Censored Scout Mail
Keith Larson

Censorship is the vetting of mail for possible sensitive information by official agencies authorized to perform this task.  This review can include opening, reading and marking over of mail primarily during war time or periods of unrest though occasionally during other times.  Both military and civilian mail was censored in various countries.  Mail that was censored can usually be identified by the application of sealing tape and handstamps to the cover.

Most censored mail with Scout stamps that can be found have dates from the period of World War II and immediately afterwards, due to the fact that World War I was over before the first official Scout topical stamp issue by a state.  This specification is necessary to distinguish this category of topical philatelic material from Scout-run Field Post Offices of both WWI and WWII and other civil wars that have distinguishing Scout postal cancels and that may also have been censored.

Pre-Scouting Period. 1900  The Second Anglo-Boer War was the setting for the first Scout-related censored mail.  Colonel R.S.S. Baden-Powell, commander of the Frontier Forces, took over control of the civil Post Office operation in Mafeking.  The printing of local stamps... "Mafeking Blues" bear the portraits of Cadet Sgt.-Major Warner Goodyear of the Cadet Bicycle Post and Colonel Baden-Powell.  In 1901, 10 out-of-Mafeking usage covers (Kaffir runner covers), each franked wholly or in part by B-P heads, were reported.  Only four of these covers are known today.  The covers are all addressed to Bulawayo, Rhodesia, and have the 2-line violet "PASSED / PRESS CENSOR" handstamp, which was applied by a censor at the military post office (in a train car parked on a railroad siding adjacent to the military camp just outside Bulawayo) before the letters were turned over to the civil post office.

World War I Period. 1915-1920  Scouts participated in the field post operations of many armies during the Great War.  Distinctive postmarks are identified with these operations.  Some of these covers were likely passed through censor offices as the mail moved from combat areas with military post service in occupied areas to the civil post at home.

World War II Period. 1938-1945  Candidate civil and military censor covers include international use between allied countries, and to addresses in opposing axis countries.  Mail to opposing countries traveled through neutral countries.  Censorship at both the country of origin and country of destination was not uncommon.  Scouts were sometimes employed to assist in the Censor's Office, such as at Leave SOSSI SiteMalta Some topical covers can be found that were addressed to a known Scout address or contain Scout-related content.  Such was the case of a 1943 cover with enclosed letter & photo from 14 year old Australian Boy Scout Jack Stubbs.  It was sent from Sydney, New South Wales 09-29-43 and written to Mrs. MacCormick in Deer Lodge, Montana (USA).  The letter tells about meeting her son who gave some talks at their Scout meetings.  This 1942 cover was sent by Alphonse St. Cloud, President & Founder of the Scout Movement in Haiti, to the Chief Executive of the Boy Scouts of America.  Haitian & U.S. Censor tapes are applied.

Haiti Cover
Haiti - Airmail - Dual Censored, 1942

There were several Scout topical stamp issues that were valid for postage during this time.  Collectors should look among the following issues for possible Scout-stamp-on-censored-covers.

This New Zealand censored FDC of the NZ Health Stamp series [Scott Nos. B24-B25] depicts Princess' Margaret and Elizabeth in Girl Guide uniforms and was sent to Texas, USA in 1944.

New Zealand Cover
New Zealand - Airmail - Censored, 1944

This is the reverse of this NZ cover with PC90 DDA/11 Censor tape at right (left side as viewed from the front).

New Zealand Cover
New Zealand - Airmail - Censored, 1944

Post- World War II Period. 1946-1952  Candidate civil censor covers include domestic use between occupied zones, to occupied countries and international use.  Censorship was expected to occur on all mail to Communist controlled countries and regions during the Cold War.

This U.S. letter from Portland, Oregon to Vienna, Austria is franked with multiple commemorative stamps including Juliette Low.  The Austrian purple circular military censor hand stamp is "Osterreichishe Zensurstelle /126/Z.1" with sealing tape.

US Cover
United States - Air Mail - Censored, 1948

Here is an excellent censored Austrian cover with a combination of costume definitives and commemoratives including the World Jamboree commemorative stamp.  The envelope is a bit rough at the edges because the paper is the poor quality post-war stock.  The civil censor #219 mark is hand stamped.

Austrian Cover
Austria - Airmail - Censored, 1951

This is an Austrian aerogram from Vienna with the World Jamboree issue for international postage.  The civil censor #631 is hand stamped.

Austrian Aerogram
Austria - Aerogram - Censored, 1951

With the restoration of the Scouting movement and renewed international exchanges between members after the conclusion of World War II, it is quite possible for many more examples to exist of censored Scout stamp covers.  If you have any censored Scout stamp covers in your collection, please contact the SOSSI webmaster so they can be added to this online reference.

Leave SOSSI Site Other Online Censor Mail Articles: