YMCA covers from Lebanon during WW2 let’s be curious

“The military Postal Section was a highly organized department that worked with remarkable smoothness and promptness so that the men in the fighting-line had little to complain about in the delivery of letters sent to them by their friends or delays in their own letters home.”

While browsing different philatelic auction sites, my attention was drawn to 3 different military covers, offered among hundreds of items from Lebanon.



Cover A) 29 June1941 YMCA cover from LEBANON to Egypt with s/r. AUS FPO 32 p/m. and triangle censor 3466 handstamp. Located: Tyre. (Lebanon) Also EXAMINED BY BASE CENSOR label tied by triangle 3100 censor h/s. Australian Forces.



Cover B) Envelope sent from “vaguemestre d’étape 14” of “Postes aux Armées FFL” (in Homs) dated 8 December 1942 and heading for Egypt. Beirut military transit cancel on reverse(FFL 1). Arrival french military cancel in Cairo (BCM4). Double censored by French and British authorities.

Postage stamped Lebanese rather than FFL stamps is explained by the fact that the FFL issue was not recognized by the UPU and had therefore no franking power outside the areas under FFL control.



Cover C) Flown cover from Beirut (BCM1) with a couple of 2Fr Levant stamps to Algeria after re-opening of air flights Levant -Alger (LAM-14/04/43).  Air mail fee: 2Fr. This stamps was valid since mail remained in the Free French network territory.

These covers are recognized with the famous YMCA logo on front cover. In French Levant, YMCA was one of the three official welfare organizations; the Red Cross and the “Foyer du Soldat” were the other two.

Why is the British cover (Cover A) stampless while the French mails (Cover B and C) required the use of stamps for the same destination during the same period?

For the British army post, free transmission of mail applied only to troops on service overseas. However, concessions were made and Field Service Regulations laid down that “private correspondence of civilians employed by or accompanying the army was permitted to be sent through the Army Postal Service and such personnel were forbidden to use the French civil post.”

It all goes back to June 1915, when permission was given to construction workers employed by Army Contractors to send mail by the A.P.O. Similarly, “Personnel employed by the Red Cross Society, St. Johns Ambulance and St. Andrews Ambulance Society were granted the same facilities, as were the YMCA and kindred associations.”
As for the French “poste aux Armées”, postal franchise was given to French soldiers and seamen in time of war to communicate with their families in the metropol. But French military authorities denied civilians to access to their military post office.


To illustrate that, this is a letter request from the Director of Foyer du soldat/ YMCA to the army headquarters, in Beirut (June 1921), to continue to receive mail through the “Poste aux Armées” as civilian post operation was irregular, and argued the fact that Ministry of War recognized the association as part of the army body.


Old Post card depicting the “Foyer du soldat” home in Beirut, Marechal Foch street.

Less than a month later, Tresor et Postes department answered back:


“I cannot respond favorably to your request. By internal memo I reminded staff under my orders to comply strictly, per the memo of January 12, 1921, which prohibits civilians regardless of their function and their nationality to make use of military post for sending and receipt of their mail…  On the other hand, Madam Bleyfus seems to ignore that even for the military the franchise exists only for single letters not exceeding 20 gr… “

Another similar correspondence to the responsible of “l’union des combattants”, a public utility association since 1920 whose aim is the recognition of the right to compensation for veterans, and more generally the recognition of the Nation to them:


“In the name of General Weygand,

High commissioner of France in Syria and Lebanon,

Chief in command of the Army in the Levant,


The Act of May 30, 1871 has expressly reserved the benefit of the franchise to incoming mail or to the address of the military. Civilians attached to the military in various capacities (doctors, pharmacists, voluntary nurses, Secretaries etc.) cannot benefit of the franchise. And this without any exception and is applicable as anywhere else. …………….”

This didn’t really explain the difference in postage rates and mail processing. The assumption to consider these covers mailed by civilians from YMCA borrowing the military circuit was a faulty one; rather it was the YMCA was putting its writing tents, huts and reception centers at the soldiers’ disposal, giving free writing paper and envelopes to any soldier who asked for them.

As evidenced by the obliteration on the stamps or cover, all three covers are military mail. As stated above, the French would even have prohibited the use of military post by civilians, even civilians depending of the French forces’ personnel.


– Cover A is an English mail that benefit from the military concession because it is correspondence between an English military stationed abroad and its base, Cairo, English rear base; By the way, Barclays military branch is where their money was.

-Cover B is also posted through military mail but requires fees because it left the French circuit for Egypt under British Mandate and lost its right to the military concession. 20 piasters was the correct postal rate by surface mail.

-Cover C remains in the French network but the sender had to pay the airline fee (4 francs).

8 Fadi Maassarani



The fake Pan Arab block with black printing doubled

Lately on the Facebook page “THE ARABIAN PHILATELY” an American friend, has posted certainly for provocation, an image of a block issued by the Lebanese Post in 1957 for the second Pan Arab games with an “apparent” black print doubled. Nevertheless one of the two black prints is definitely added later, precisely the one higher up. I specify that for the block’s subjects was used the originals designs made for the four stamps values, two postage and two airmail, issued on 12 September 1957 (Michel).

Responding to the author of the post, I would like to point out that you do not make expert opinions via internet for the simple fact that it lacks direct view with “the piece in the hand”.

But returning back about our block, it is so trashy that even using only images posted on Facebook we are capable to demonstrate its fraudulent origin, even without considering the tonality of the black color and the possible traces of pressure exerted on the cardboard.


1) The block in question with the “apparent” black print doubled, one of which slightly rotated.


2) We start analysis from the cream-colored cardboard, which had to be actually part of a bigger sheet containing minimum four blocks separate later by cutting.



3) The result after the color prints of stamps through four steps in the printing press.


4) The black print design (this is a simulation performed by eliminating the stamps) of the four block, each distinguished by a letter because, each of the four compositions has its own characteristics, regarding the distances between the different parts of the composition (for example between the rings and the frames etc.).



5) The final fifth step of printing for the normal block.


6) The “extra” printing emoticon.


7) The result would have been obtained, simulating the passage’s lack of the figure 4.


8) The “extremely rare” result obtained after the “printing” of the figure 6.


9) Overlaying and rotating the top black printing and moving it down so as to overlap on the lower part of the two prints (green arrow), it is noted that in the top does not match and the additional printing added is highest of about one millimeter and a half, as shown by the red arrows.

The ways to obtain the fake “extra” black printing are limited to three:
a) the easiest is through the laser printer, by manipulating the black image and copying it. Inexpensive to produce but marketable only for very naive collectors.
b) production using the photocopier, by placing the paper in the machine and copying the press mold in black (difficult and expensive method since the cardboard of the block would tend to get stuck in the machine). Nevertheless the product obtained is characterized by the visible thickness of printing and by its color.
c) considering what it says post’s author in Facebook, the most credible used for our case was an old forgery black matrix, obtained with photo zinc-graphy. The image is “almost” equal to the original and the oversized defect is due to the fact that the black part of the design, excerpt by photographic reproduction, is not perfectly in scale 1:1 with the original, as already said producing a greatest difference of a millimeter and a half. Is a print typo process, by a zinc plate, a type of printing most common up to 1990s and is no longer used because of the high degree of pollution produced.

But at the last minute, as in a thrilling film, appearing elements which highlight other possibilities: two blocks, one normal and one with the black printing doubled.

By the colored arrows the result is now visible to all, especially for our dear friends in Facebook.

lente  Bernardo Longo

The Graf Zeppelin didn’t fly over Lebanon!

LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin (Deutsches Luftschiff Zeppelin #127; Registration: D-LZ 127) was a German-built and -operated, passenger-carrying, hydrogen-filled, rigid airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. When it entered commercial service in 1928, it became the first commercial passenger transatlantic flight service in the world. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was a count (Graf) in the German nobility. Almost every zeppelin flight carried mail, sometimes in large quantities; the covers usually received special postmarks,
The “Graf Zeppelin” made two visits to the Middle East during its career. The first took place over four days in April 1929, without landing but during which mail was dropped to the large German colony at Jaffa in Palestine (bundle of 5000 letters). Second visit was in 1931.
Below is a German map of the 1929 route (in which the Zeppelin did not land):



On 17.11.2001, the Palestinian authority issued a serie of stamps commemorating “The First Airship over the Holy Land”: the “Orient Flight” (Orientfahrt) of German airship Zeppelin LZ-127 took place between 25.03.29 and 28.03.1929 and Palestine (Haifa, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley, Lake Kinnereth) was overflown in nighttime on 26.03.1929. The stamp depicts the Zeppelin and the map route.


Special postmark found on covers flown on the Orient Flight.

items, frequently seen on the known sites of online selling or other philatelic sites:

a) Heading for Lebanon:



1929 Orient Flight cover addressed to Beirut, Lebanon, franked with 2M Eagle, tied byFriedrichshafen cds, with appropriate cachets, 26March, Er Ramle “c” drop and Beirut (29 Mar) arrival pmks


Another 1929 Orient Flight cover addressed to Beirut with same destination.


Incoming commercial Zeppelin air mail from Germany. The cover, franked 2 Mark, was sent from Friedrichshafen on 24/3/1929 by the Graf Zeppelin “ORIENTFHART” flight, arrived in Beirut on 29/3/1929 (on reverse).


Lebanon, incoming Zeppelin air mail from Germany. The post card, franked 1 Mark, was sent from Friedrichshafen on 24/3/1929 by the Graf Zeppelin “ORIENTFHART” flight, arrived in Beirut on 29/3/1929.

b) Heading for Syria



1929, Zeppelin post LZ 127 flight 1929 Cover Germany To Aleppo Syria via Ramle; Jaffa; Beyrouth. Zeppelin post from Friedrichshafen Germany (official stamp date 24.3.1929 Michel #29) to Aleppo Syria, 1929. LZ 127 flight. Franked by 2M as follows: 20pf, 40pf (damaged), 80pf (Michel #392, #395, #397) and 60pf (Michel #362). “Mit luftpost” (With Airmail) label And Confirmation stamp. Ramle Drop. On the front ER RAMLE 26.3.1929 postmark, on the back JAFFA 27.3.1929, BEYROUTH 29.3.1929 AND Arrival at ALEP 30.3.1929.



Syria, incoming Zeppelin air mail from Germany. The post card, franked 1 Mark (20 pf+80pf), was sent from Friedrichshafen on 24/3/1929 by the Graf Zeppelin “ORIENTFHART” flight. No arrival postmark but probably same routing as previous item.


Zeppelin Postcard heading for Hama, franked 1Mark ( Cooper collection ) . Notice a different red cancel :Mediterranean flight. It belongs to the second Mediterranean cruise that took place in April 29 and flew over France, Spain, Portugal and Tangier.


Leaflet distributed among the population in Palestine to warn of the arrival of the Zeppelin and the reward in case of recovered mail (1929).



Another 1929 incoming Zeppelin airmail to Lebanon from the 1. Amerikafahrt 1929 flight that left Friedrichshafen on first of August heading to New-York after a nearly disaster first attempt in May that interrupted the flight. The cover is franked on 31/07/29, arrived in New York on 05/08/29, forwarded to Beirut on 22/08/29 and handled in Ghazir on 24/08/29 to the director of the Armenian blind school.

Fadi Maassarani