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Andrew Upton

Army Form W3078/"Green Envelope" - contents?

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Andrew Upton

Does anyone know if Army Form W.3078. (aka the "green envelope", which could be used for more private correspondance during the war) actually came with any particular sort of paper/form inside to be written upon included, or if the soldier was expected to provide whatever paper he normally had available? The envelopes themselves still turn up quite frequently, but unsuprisingly the original letters have invariably been removed.

 

(form number typo corrected in light of Chris' post below)

Edited by Andrew Upton

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tocemma

Andrew,

They were just empty envelopes in both wars as far as I'm aware. I have a few with contents and the writing paper is different in each. I don't think the 'privilege' extended to free stationery.

I've seen quite a few over the years complete with contents. A surprising number of these contain information about casualty numbers and details of location. I've always been of the opinion that the supervision of the system was a bit hit and miss, depending on unit and location I suppose.

If you're reproducing these it might be an idea to do the 'Examined' paper seal with red lettering that was used to reseal opened letters.

There are a number of variations of course due to the amount produced, including the Hindi version!

Regards

Tocemma

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tocemma

Ps just had a quick look at the ones I have...early on an all green envelope with black print, thought the layout and style of the text varies.

Later an 'economy' version with the green 'cross' and text in green on plain off white envelope (possibly recycled paper)

This latter type was also used during WW2.

'Opened by' and 'Examined by' Censor no xxxx labels seem to have been printed in either red or black on white gum backed labels.

Tocemma

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Chris Henschke

The Active Service Envelope (nicknamed 'green envelopes') was Army Form W 3078, not 8078. The early versions were green and later were produced as a buff envelope with a green cross.

In December 1915 the new envelope with the words “Crown Copyright Reserved” replaced the earlier style green envelope. (General Routine Order 699 Special Green Envelopes, dated 21 December, 1915.) The old envelopes were not to be used and any stocks which ‘may remain are to be destroyed.’

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IPT

Just a few additional notes from my amateur internet gleanings;

As I understand it, soldiers only received one green envelope per week and so often put multiple letters inside. I also found one contemporary reference to a green envelope which contained a note written on a field service postcard. Therefore, it seems unlikely that paper was provided.

With regard to censorship, it was very much based on an element of trust and the signing of the declaration on the envelope. Only a sample were checked by a censor (200,000 were sent per year). The main point being that your private business would not be read by a nosy subaltern from your own unit.

Anyone unlucky enough to be caught abusing the system could be punished for "whilst on active service conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline", and receive field punishment for up to 60 days, depending on the seriousness. As this was a privilege that could be revoked, I expect they could also receive a good hiding from their comrades.

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Andrew Upton

They were just empty envelopes in both wars as far as I'm aware. I have a few with contents and the writing paper is different in each. I don't think the 'privilege' extended to free stationery.

I've seen quite a few over the years complete with contents. A surprising number of these contain information about casualty numbers and details of location. I've always been of the opinion that the supervision of the system was a bit hit and miss, depending on unit and location I suppose.

If you're reproducing these it might be an idea to do the 'Examined' paper seal with red lettering that was used to reseal opened letters.

There are a number of variations of course due to the amount produced, including the Hindi version!

...

Ps just had a quick look at the ones I have...early on an all green envelope with black print, thought the layout and style of the text varies.

Later an 'economy' version with the green 'cross' and text in green on plain off white envelope (possibly recycled paper)

This latter type was also used during WW2.

'Opened by' and 'Examined by' Censor no xxxx labels seem to have been printed in either red or black on white gum backed labels.

Tocemma

Thanks Paul, hard to keep a secret on here! :thumbsup: Yes I am working on a copy at the moment, the earlier style in black print on green card. I suspected the sender provided the contents, but wanted to make certain first.

The Active Service Envelope (nicknamed 'green envelopes') was Army Form W 3078, not 8078. The early versions were green and later were produced as a buff envelope with a green cross.

In December 1915 the new envelope with the words “Crown Copyright Reserved” replaced the earlier style green envelope. (General Routine Order 699 Special Green Envelopes, dated 21 December, 1915.) The old envelopes were not to be used and any stocks which ‘may remain are to be destroyed.’

Interesting for two reasons - the main original I'm working from appears very clearly (printers error, dodgy stamp, or otherwise) marked other than 3078. The first digit shows more as an S than a 3, however it clearly appears on the other as stated, so the correct number is duly noted. Also, it and the other is of the type described as being post-December 1915, yet one has a post mark of what appears to be October 28th 1915, the other November 14th 1915. Scans of both below:

http://postimg.org/image/63h7np9sx/ba1deef0/

IMG_Copy.jpg

http://postimg.org/image/xstl69y8x/

Green_envelope_2.jpg

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Peter Zieminski

Hi Andrew

I have three original examples one as per your illustration dated the 4th October 1915, one of the buff types with the green cross dated 15th September 1918 and another green envelope but smaller (5"x4") dated the 14th April 1915 with - all are marked as A.F. W3078 albeit the printing on the buff envelope is smudged and could easily be read as 8078.

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Andrew Upton

...and another green envelope but smaller (5"x4") dated the 14th April 1915...

Presumably the sort that Chris mentioned becoming obsolete - I would be interested to see a picture of that one.

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David  B

The 5"x 4" envelope may have lasted longer than people realize as my envelope is of that size and is post dated 28 October 1915. Unfortunately my family only kept the one envelope but stuffed three letters into it, presumably

believing the contents to be more important that the cover. The envelope was censored by the base censor as these letters were not examined by the regiment, accordingly to the printed note on the front of the envelope.

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Peter Zieminski

Hi Andrew

Here they are ...

SmallAFW3078-Front_zps0d647796.jpg

SmallAFW3078-Rear_zps28de28c7.jpg

As you can see even on this one the 3 can easily be mistaken for an 8

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Chris Henschke

I should have posted the wording of the order rather rely on my memory. So here it is.

Special Green Envelopes. It is notified for information that the special green envelope issued for uncensored correspondence A.F.W. 3078 has been abolished. A similar green envelope rather larger and with the words “Crown Copyright Reserved” printed in the top right hand corner has been established in its place. The old envelope A.F.W. 3078 is on no account to be used, and any stocks which may remain are to be destroyed. (Authority G.R.O. No. 699, dated 21/12/15)

The type Peter posted is, to the best of my knowledge the first type. This was replaced with the copyright one, in December 1915. Then the more familiar buff envelope with the green cross used into the Second World War. The first imprint of this I have seen is April, 1917. Here is a comparison of the two GREEN envelopes. It was designed to be large enough to contain several letters. These letters could be enclosed and forwarded to a private address in the British Empire for despatch, but postage stamps would have to be affixed to them there before they were distributed.

As to frequency of issue, IPT is correct. According to SS 393, Censorship Orders and Regulations for Troops in the Field, dated November 1916;

'These envelopes are issued at the rate of one per man per week upon War Establishments or ascertained average strength of units. The issue is made automatically by the Army Printing and Stationery Services.'

post-671-0-10915000-1383817571_thumb.jpg

post-671-0-71891400-1383817595_thumb.jpg

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Andrew Upton

Hi Andrew

Here they are ...

Thanks Peter.

I should have posted the wording of the order rather rely on my memory. So here it is.

Special Green Envelopes. It is notified for information that the special green envelope issued for uncensored correspondence A.F.W. 3078 has been abolished. A similar green envelope rather larger and with the words “Crown Copyright Reserved” printed in the top right hand corner has been established in its place. The old envelope A.F.W. 3078 is on no account to be used, and any stocks which may remain are to be destroyed. (Authority G.R.O. No. 699, dated 21/12/15)

The type Peter posted is, to the best of my knowledge the first type. This was replaced with the copyright one, in December 1915. Then the more familiar buff envelope with the green cross used into the Second World War. The first imprint of this I have seen is April, 1917. Here is a comparison of the two GREEN envelopes. It was designed to be large enough to contain several letters. These letters could be enclosed and forwarded to a private address in the British Empire for despatch, but postage stamps would have to be affixed to them there before they were distributed.

Ah, I see now - the old style became obsolete in December 1915, but the newer style had already been introduced and was in use, hence examples dated before then. Makes perfect sense. But what a confusingly written GRO - the first line implies the AF W3078 per se was now obsolete, not merely the older pattern of it.

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Ian S Small

I have several from World War 2 including two including letters from a soldier to his wife in a pub in Glasgow. I recently came across one which appears to have been produced by some sort of photographic process onto a plain white envelope. It is thus printed in black on the face only and rather off centre. It was posted from India in August 1944 with a pair of 4 Anna George VI portrait stamps. The postmark only says 367 There are two of the circular Unit Censor marks, wit the number G-497 but the type with the word India omitted. The cover has no contents and was sent by Gnr L J Kitchen to a Mrs Ray in Weston-Super-Mare. Any comments about what seems to be a makeshift late use of such a cover?

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bigjohn

Slightly off topic.

I was under the impression that mail from the far east was photographed and the films were sent back to conserve on space and weight on aircraft bringing the mail back , on arrival they were printed off and sent on to the recipient.

 That been said I remember letters from my dad who was in India and ceylon, (after escaping from Singapore) that were on bluies with Indian postage stamps on in a trunk at my grandmother's cirka. 1964 .

John 

Edited by bigjohn

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