proof of the
start of the Overland Mai! service is a cover from Iraq, inscribed 'BY
SPECIAL OVERLAND MAIL / BAGHDAD TO HAIFA' and inside the envelopes there
was a cutting from the Baghdad Times of a postal notice, published
sometime in August 1923 (date of issue not known).
was posted at Hinaidi on the 23rd August 1923 and has a
Baghdad H.Q. transit mark dated 26th August 1923. Till today
two covers are
(Collection late Zvi Alexander, Postal Museum, Israel)
OVERLAND MAIL SERVICE
It is notified for
information that a special despatch of mails for the United
Kingdom, Palestine, Egypt and other countries will be made from
Baghdad on Thursday the 30th instant for trans-mission overland
via Haifa-Port Said.
The period of transit for
a letter from Baghdad to London is expected to be 10 days.
Unregistered and registered corres-pondence for despatch to
United Kingdom or other countries by the Overland Service
will be accepted at the Baghdad Head Post Office. Latest hour
for posting registered articles will be 11 a.m. and unregistered
articles 12 noon. Thursday the 30th instant.
All articles for despatch by this service must be superscribed
in bold letters "OVERLAND MAIL
A fee of three
annas for every 20 grammes or fraction thereof in addition to
the ordinary postage and registration fee must be prepaid by
means of postage stamps affixed to the article or articles to be
transmitted by this route.
Deputy Inspector General
assumed that that trip and subsequent trips up to
October 1923 were proving trips since the contract to carry mail thru
the Syro-Iraqi Desert was believed not given to Nairn Brothers until
October 1923. Professor John Munro in his book 'THE NAIRN WAY' records
that the contract as far as Syria was concerned was signed on the 18th
newspaper clipping from the Near East Newspaper, dated 6 September 1923
(see clipping below), states that the
contract in fact has been signed in Baghdad already "the week before",
which means by end of August 1923.
Cover transported by the first Overland Mail on 30 August 1923.
Click to view large image
Letter Bill from the Iraq
Postal Administration in the G.P.O. Archive, London, confirms that the
first Overland Mail, aside for the letters carried on proving trips, has
left Baghdad on 30 August 1923, marking the official start of
the Overland Mail Baghdad-Haifa for the public. furthermore, a letter from the
Controller's Office to the Secretary of the Post Office dated 12
September 1923 confirms the arrival of the first Overland Mail in London
on 10 September 1923.
I beg to report the receipt via Port Said and
Marseilles on the 21th instant ex S.S. "KHIVA" of mails from Baghdad
for London and London Provinces, dates the 30th August 1923, and bearing
serial numbers "1" and "1" respectively.
This is the first arrival of mails London and London Provinces by the
Overland Mail, and no intimidation of the establishment of the service
appears to have reached office.
Letter Bill, which is marked "Overland Mail", is 214526
apparently has been taken by surprise about the opening of the Overland
Mail route as I found an Inter-Office Memo in the Archive of the British
Postal Museum (Philatelic Heritage), containing a newspaper clipping,
apparently from Lloyds List of the 3rd September 1923 attached to.
NEW BAGHDAD SERVICE
overland mail to England from Baghdad via Damascus and Port
Said, where it connects with the P. & O. steamer, left on
Thursday (says Reuter), carrying 3000 letters which will arrive
in London in eight days.
3rd Sept 23
this is the Nairn Service which has started. We are still
from the Iraq P.O.
This is the
Desert Motor Service, under the Irak Post Contract,
wrote to the Air Ministry. It competes successfully as
regards time with the R.A.F. service
In my collection i found inside
a cover which, after closer inspection, to my surprise, was dated 12
September 1923 with a transit postmark on reverse from Port Said dated
15 September 1923, a newspaper clipping from Baghdad Times, 10.
September 1923, shown below: This trip was an previously unreported and
unrecorded Survey Trip prior of the official start of the Overland Mail.
Monday September 10th, 1923
The next Overland Mail Baghdad-Haifa
will be closed at the Baghdad Head Post Office on Wednesday the
12th instant at 12 noon. Registered articles will be accepted up
to 11 a.m.
Registered and unregistered articles of
all classes except parcels are accepted at the usual postage and
registration fees plus an Overland fee of annas three for every
20 grammes or fraction thereof.
All articles to be superscribed
"Overland Mail Baghdad-Haifa" in bold characters on the top left
In "Reports on
Iraq Administration" for 1923-24 published by His Majesty's Stationery
Office which will be referred to as H.M.S.O. from this point onwards is
stated that Overland Mail has been operating since October 1923. The
report for 1928 states that the Nairn's contract ceased in October 1928,
proving that the route became fully functional from October 1923 and
that the Nairn's had a five year contract as from October 1923.
Interesting that this cover already shows a
Overland Mail Route
Again in the
Archive of the British Postal Museum (Philatelic Heritage) I found a newspaper clipping, apparently from
the Near East Newspaper, issued 6 September 1923.
The Irak Mail Route.
A telegram from Baghdad states that the first dispatch of mail
matter by the new motor service between Irak and Palestine left Baghdad last Thursday. I shall
be surprised to hear that this marks the inauguration of a
regular weekly service, as I was under the impression that the
Nairn Transport Company, who have the mail contract, proposed to
start on October 1, when their fleet of new cars specially
bought for the the service would have reached Palestine.
Possibly the reference is to a trial trip undertaken to
celebrate the formal signing of the contract last week in
Baghdad. Mails by this route will be subject to a surcharge of
three pence instead of the sixpence charged for the air mail
between Cairo and Baghdad. When the Haifa-Baghdad motor service
is in regular running order the mails by that route should not
take much, if any, longer than the air mail, which is more
liable to delay from weather conditions. It is not intended
however, that there should be competition between the two
routes. There are good reasons why the Royal Air Force should
wish to keep up the fortnightly connection between Cairo and
Baghdad; but it may by supposed that it does not set much store
on acting as mail carriers The motor car service via Damascus
represents a bold, but i think sound, experiment and there will
be a natural tendency on the part of the Air Force, and, no
doubt, of the British Post Office to stand to see how the scheme
works. When it is fully established the saving of three pence on
each letter will quickly deflect the mails to that route. The
Irak Post Office is to congratulated on its enterprise, for the
substitution of a weekly postal service over the fortnightly
means much to the business world, to say nothing of the saving
of time to those who have to travel to and from Irak.
Based on the text i have the strong
believe (suspicion) that this "telegram" was actually written by someone
with close (business) relation to the Nairn Transport Company,
if not Norman Nairn by him self, as it is more written as an
advertising instead of a newspaper article.