I have seen other World War 2 illustrated comical Australian mail, but nothing to approach this one.  The front of this red 2½d KG VI Letter Card has a roller cancellation of ADELAIDE/ 11-AM/ 19 APR/ 1943/ SOUTH AUST.  It sold for THREEPENCE, had a red OPENED BY CENSOR label, a purple boxed A/ 10, a purple boxed ‘4 Passed by Censor.  It was addressed to Lieutenant Chris Weske, Naval Base, U.S.A and was re-addressed in red crayon to Clearfield Utah, in blue crayon to Naval Supply Depot, San Diego Office, and with a purple handstamp FORWARDED MAY 19, 1943,  FLEET RECORDS’OFFICE, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA’ (Figure 1).

The reverse had an incomplete purple double circle U.S. NAVY (     )/ APR 29/ (    ) postmark and a black SAN DIEGO/ MAY 22/ 1 PM/ 1943/ CALIF postmark as well as a roller cancel BUY/ WAR SAVINGS/ BONDS AND STAMPS.  In spite of the red printed admonition about the affixing of an additional 1d postage stamp, this was not applied (Figure 2).

All of the above markings did not prepare me for what was revealed inside, and I was somewhat surprised that it was not prohibited for transmission by the censor, on account of the Adelaide postmarking on the front, the banner around the Easter Egg inscribed ‘Depend on Hendon’, and  the ‘SHELLS FROM HENDON’ , where Hendon was artfully spelled out in ammunition shells.  The egg was inscribed ‘AMMO’ and ‘FOOD FOR AXIS’, and the egg was supported by 2 rabbits in dresses.  One shell was suspending three happy men, of the army, navy and air force.

The poem is a bit of doggerel as follows: “EGGING YOU ON!  Some people try to tell you (and this is rather funny),  the eggs you buy at Easter, come from a hare bunny.  We guess they’re only kidding, but this you can depend on– , That “googy” eggs come from a hen, and shells, they come from Hendon.  The hen lays eggs, and really, you couldn’t call it lazy,  But why put shells around them?  The poor old hen is crazy!  Her “googy” shells are wasted – not like the ones we send on,  Because the Axis troops are fed on shells that come from Hendon.  –Vic B.

Greetings were sent to Chris from (RFC?) Marr, from 25 Augusta Street, Maylands, South Australia, and the item was addressed as the Hendon Ammunition Factory, “Somewhere in South Australia.”  Easter, 1943.  The three Axis leaders are shown lower right, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Emperor Hirohito.   It was issued by the “Hendon Howl” with ‘All Proceeds for Charity’ (Figure 3).

The Hendon Howl was produced by the Hendon Small Arms Ammunition Factory as a periodical (No. 1 to No. 17) of their Social Club from May 1942 until the Christmas Edition in December 1944.  Prior to the onset of WW2 in 1939 the only government small arms munition factory was at Footscray, Victoria, established in 1888.   As early as August 1939 a decision was made to build a second small arms factory capable of making 100,000,000 rounds of ammunition a year, at Hendon, now a northwest suburb of Adelaide.  The main responsibility for building the high priority metal-working machinery needed to equip the factory was placed with two firms, John Heine & Son and W.G. Goetz & Sons (both with surprisingly Germanic sounding names) as well as a number of smaller firms.   The factory at Hendon was operational by November 1940 and that at Finsbury S.A. by February 1941.  The Government Ammunition Factories were eventually set up in all six States, as shown in Figure 4.

Categories: Armed Forces