Last Modified: November 08, 2004

Prisoner of War Aerogrammes of Australia


Alfred Roggenkämper


What is an aerogramme? An aerogramme is a form with an imprinted stamp, and which is both writing paper and envelope. After appropriate folding it is about the size of an envelope. On the front is also a reference to air mail transport and a space for the address of the recipient. On the back is space for the address of the sender and usually a reference that enclosures are forbidden. The presence of an enclosure will result in the aerogramme being sent by surface transport.

As a result of World War 2, in Australia were 1,651 German, 18,432 Italian and 5,637 Japanese prisoners of war. The highest number was reached in 1945 when there were 24,158 prisoners of the aforementioned nationalities.

The number of letters to the homeland was limited and varied depending upon nationality of the Prisoner and the year. In the years 1941-42 the following number of letters were allowed:
For Germans: Officers, 3 letters and 4 postcards per month.
                    other ranks, 2 letters and 4 postcards per month.
For Italians: Officers and other ranks, 2 letters or 2 postcards or 1 letter and 1 postcard per week.
For Japanese: The same number as for Germans.

Beginning in 1941, Germans and Italians were additionally permitted 3 Christmas Greetings Cards. Prisoner of War mail was generally postage free. Starting about March 1943 it was possible to send letters via air mail When sent via air mail, the air mail fee had to be paid by the sender The air mail fee 6 pence for a postcard and up to 1 Shilling for a 1/2 ounce letter. Later, about the middle of 1944, the Japanese were also permitted to send mail via air. The air mail fee amounted to Japan was 4 pence for a postcard and 5 pence for a letter up to 1/2-ounce. Starting in 1946, Italian Prisoners were allowed to send airmail letters to Italy just like the general public. However, only one letter or one card per week was permitted. The release and return of the Prisoners of war took place from September 1946 to January 1947.

The Prisoner of War Aerogramme was issued in March 1943 by the Army Ministry, with permission of the Australian post office, and printed by private businesses. Exactly when those first aerogrammes were made available to the prisoners is not known. Their issue date is not mentioned by the Australian philatelic press.


1. Prisoner of War - Formulars as forerunners of the aerogrammes
2. Prisoner of War - Aerogrammes
3. Australian aerogrammes by Italian Prisoners

Literature References

Air Mail Stationery, by M. Hodson, 1950. Air Letter Sheets, by American air Mail Society, 1955. Handbuch der Milit„r- Luftpost 1793 - 1954, von Alfred Clement, 1955. Kriegsgefangenenpost deutscher Soldaten 1939-45, W.Stephan, 1969. Kesslers Catalogue of Aerograms, Volume 1 - 111, 1961 and 1965. World's air Mail Catalogue, Francois Giodinas, 1967 and 1974. The Postal History of Intemees and Prisoners in Australia during WW II by P. Collas.

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