Royal Reels: Gambling


This cover was addressed to No 1157. L.A.C. Palmer, T.P., R.A.A.F. Detachment, Australian Coronation Contingent, Australia House, London W.C. 2, England, and the two mauve 9d ‘Kangaroo on Map of Australia’ stamps were postmarked with an ASHFIELD/ 1 AM/ 7 MAY/ 1937/ N.S.W with a slogan roller cancel. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The addressee was Thomas Perceval Palmer, identified in the WW2 Nominal Roll as being in the Royal Australian Air Force, by his service number 1157. He was born on 7 February 1892 at Springsure, Queensland. He enlisted on 28 January 1927, and the Locality on Enlistment was Auchenflower, Queensland, but the Place of Enlistment was given as Laverton, Victoria. His next of kin was Florence Palmer, and his date of discharge was 19 June 1947, when his rank was a Warrant Officer. His Posting at Discharge was the Eastern Area Headquarters. There were no WW2 honours nor gallantry listings, and he had not been a prisoner of war. The rank of Warrant Officer is higher than the rank of L.A.C. (Leading Aircraftsman) on the 1937 cover. No further information has been found on Thomas Palmer.

In late 1936 the Australian Government agreed to send a contingent of servicemen to England to represent Australia at the coronation of King George VI on 12 May 1937. The naval detachment of the Australian Coronation Contingent was to be 25 in number and led by a Commissioned Warrant Officer. 14 were to be permanent service ratings and the remaining 10 drawn from the Royal Australian Fleet Reserve, Royal Australian Naval Reserve and RAN Auxiliary Services. They embarked in the SS Oronsay in February 1937. Apart from their royal ceremonial duties, the contingent attended a number of official functions in England and Scotland. Their final engagements were in France, and the contingent embarked in the RMS Orama at Toulon for passage to Sydney. This was the only site found on the internet with worthwhile information. A picture of the Naval Contingent is shown in Figure 2.

The coronation of King George VI on 12 May 1937 met with the usual pomp and ceremony. Australia sent a contingent of 18 Official representatives and several of their wives to London to view the ceremony, and these included Prime Minister William Lyons, Lord Casey and Frederick Shedden. In addition to the contingent of 150 Australian troops (including 75 veterans of World War 1) under the command of Sir Henry Chauvel, there were a contingent of Boy Scouts, and members of the Coronation Choir. The Australian troops contingent mounted the first Australian Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace.

KGVI was born on 14 December 1905, and died on 6 February 1952. He succeeded to the throne when his brother Edward VIII abdicated. He had a pronounced stutter that made public speaking difficult. To combat this problem, he started work with an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue, who gave him tongue twisters to practice on, and the treatment was ultimately successful. You may want to try one of these: “She sifted seven thick stalked thistles through a strong thick sieve”.

Categories: Armed Forces