At the last meeting we welcomed Paul Woodness who gave an interesting insight into the Postal History of the Dodecanese Islands. He started off by explaining the history of the islands going back to the period 1309 to 1522 when they were ruled by the Knights of St. John. When the Knights moved to Malta control ceded to the Ottoman Empire until they were seized by Italy in 1912 who remained in control until 1943.
Prior to the Italian invasion the islands had a very limited postal service with various countries establishing their own post offices. These included Austria, France, Russia, Egypt and Turkey. A number of covers were shown from this period including an interesting plague cover of 1887 which was issued from an “Office Sanitaire” which was set up to deal with plague mail.
Once the Italians had taken over, post offices were set up across the islands using Italian stamps overprinted “EGEO” and then later overprinted with the name of the individual island. Although Dodecanese indicates 12 islands we were shown material from 14 islands but this included Stampalia and Castelrosso which were both under the control of Rhodes which is by far the largest island. The rest of the first half of the display focussed on Rhodes including POW Mail from the Second World War. In 1943 Germany gained control until 1945 when the British assumed responsibility. A number of covers were shown with British stamps overprinted “MEF”. In 1947 Greece assumed control and this has remained so to this day.
In the second half covers were shown from the various periods for Calimno, Caso, Cos, Karki, Leros, Lipso, Nisiros, Patmos, Piscopi, Scarpanto and Simi.
As for Rhodes, Italian stamps were used overprinted with the names of these islands. Numerous covers were shown including some rare items with very clear postmarks from village post offices. As the time taken to collect mail from the villages was protracted most mail was walked to the main town in each island for immediate despatch which is why village postmarks are so rare.
This was a very interesting evening with a wonderful display of material from a little known area of Europe.
The next meeting on Tuesday May 26th at 7:30pm will be the AGM in the Hanwell Fields Community Centre. Additionally, members will display on a topic other than philately.
For more information contact J. Davies 01295 255831.