The route to Africa

20 07 2008

Liberia, Scott C43, 1942, 39mm x 24mm

Once again we have a stamp issue commemorating the air supply route from North America via South America to western Africa in the middle of World War II. Only three countries are depicted (the United States, Brazil, and the issuing country of Liberia). An outsized 4-engine transport plane (possibly a C-108 Flying Fortress) is shown alongside the coast-hugging path southward.

I am not sure that the business of transport is considered to have enough charisma to show up much on stamps nowadays, relatives to the most popular topicals.



Understated cooperation

4 03 2008

brazil-1402Brazil, Scott 632, 1945, 37mm x 29mm
Here is another World War II commemorative masquerading as something celebrating international trade or something like that.

If one looks very closely at the destinations highlighted on this – Miami, Port [au] Prince, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Georgetown, Belém, Fortaleza, Natal [Rio Grande do Norte], Ascencion, Accra, Khartoum, and Cairo – tiny little aircraft symbols oriented west to east can be seen. This represents the route of a major troop transport mission between the U. S. and the various war fronts:

[T]he huge Parnamirim field at Natal became the focal point in the Allied air transport system that ran west then north through Belém and the Guianas, across the Caribbean to Miami, and east over the Atlantic via Ascension Island and across Africa to the China-Burma-India theater.

Who knew? And who looking at this staid issue with its modest title and no especial emphasis on the battle front would have made the connection even back then?

The jubilation stops here

28 02 2008

LiberationKorea, Scott 328, 1961, 26mm x 37mm
Here we have a multicolored stamp showing a lit torch, and nearly broken chain, with a background made up by a map of the Korean peninsula partitioned between South and North. The torch is being held up by three hands, perhaps symbolizing the alliance opposing the forces of the hated foe. Streaming from the center of the stamp out to the tight geometric frame are bright rays of glory. It is all to commemorate the end of a war – not the Korean War, in fact, but World War II, sixteen years earlier.

One date appearing on the stamp makes sense to me: 8-15 (also 4294-8-15 using the Korean calendar), the date of the Japanese surrender. The formal hand-over of control of Korea to the Allies was a little later, on September 9, 1945 in Seoul. The significance of 4-19 and 5-16 is unfortunately not known to me. (If anyone can help, please leave a comment, thanks!)

The design suggests a lot of things to me. South Korea in light blue stands in contrast to the drab, brown north. The chain between is weakened, but stretches across the armed border still, where the fierce flame of the torch and the convergence of the orange rays. It is as if the stamp is saying that the occupier from the south was pushed out in part by the ally to the North, but there was a subsequent price to be paid in the form of national partition during one of the hottest conflicts of the Cold War era.