MEF Christmas Airgraphs

Merry Christmas! Exactly a year ago today we looked at a Christmas airgraph here, tonight we have two more examples, however these are visually more elaborate than the last one. Whilst the last example was sent to a soldier overseas form England, these examples are sent the other way form a serviceman in the Middle East back to the UK. The first is from Christmas 1943 and was sent by Private Rowland Mann of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps to a relative (his brother) in Hunslet, Leeds:skmbt_c36416111715000_0001As can be seen the design is fairly simple with the army’s crest in the centre and a simple pre-printed message wishing the recipient greeting and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

The following year’s design is more striking with the silhouette of a camel and this year he has added a message to the airgraph:skmbt_c36416111715000_0001-copyThe amount of space saved is graphically illustrated by this contemporary poster which indicates that 1600 letters weigh 50lbs, 1600 airgraphs 5oz:

captureAlphabetilately has more information on the airgraph system:

The original forms were 11 x 8¼ inches. These were microfilmed onto 100-foot rolls of 16-millimetre film, which was sufficient for approximately 1600 forms. The film plus aluminium container weighed 5½ ounces and measured 4 x 4 x 1 inches. The equivalent quantity of ordinary letters would have weighed approximately 35 pounds and filled two mailbags.

Two copies of each film were made, one to be sent, the other to be held until it was certain that all letters on the film had been delivered.

Films and forms were official documents, classified as confidential and were normally destroyed as confidential waste but one or two reels of film have surfaced over the years.

The end product of the service, a letter delivered to the addressee, was a photographic print, 5⅛ x 4¼ inches, approximately one quarter the size of the original, in a crude brown envelope measuring about 3¾ by 4¾ inches.

For more information on the entire operation please look here.

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