Saturday, 19 February 2011

Centenary-Post Blog-Post

There is a little bit of dispute about the exact date, but it does seem that it is 100 years ago this month since the first airmails were ever sent, and by the end of 1911, they were quite a common occurrence round the world

early airmail

Apparently on February 18th French pilot Henri Pequet carried 6,500 letters a distance of about 5 miles from Allahabad to Naini [both in India] The letters were marked "First Aerial Post, V.P. Exhibition Allahabad 1911." They were then put on a train for the remainder of their journey!

I very rarely send airmails any more. In my youth, I used to write on those flimsy blue sheets and send aerogrammes to friends serving as missionaries overseas. I had to plan carefully so that I could get all I wanted to say in the limited space.


But nowadays we blog and email and I honestly cannot remember the last time I sent a ‘proper’ airmail letter to anyone. The ‘aerogramme’ – one sheet which could be folded and then sealed by means of gummed strips round the edges – was popularised in wartime, as a way of sending lightweight post between members of the British Forces overseas and their families back home.

When the British Forces are deployed on operations they are entitled to free aerogrammers (colloquially known as "blueys" because of their colour) to and from their families and friends. This service has been in place for a considerable time. More recently BFPO, has pioneered an electronic form of the bluey known as ' e-bluey '.

The e-bluey is a Hybrid mail system that allows service personnel, relatives and friends to maintain a personal and private contact with each other while serving on operations or exercise for more than 60 days duration. Probably the most important factor is that the system is two way. This means those service personnel with access to the Internet can send e-blueys back home.You can find out more here.


Last weekend, I was preaching at another church, and mentioned Afghanistan in my prayers, and prayed for peace there, and also prayed for those serving in the forces and for their families. Afterwards, one of the members thanked me - and told me how much the ‘e-blueys’ she receives from her son mean to her [he is serving in the British Army in Afghanistan]

If people are abroad as soldiers serving the Queen, or as missionaries serving the King Of Kings, I am sure they appreciate every reminder that people at home are remembering them, whether that message comes via airmail or email.

“It doesn't cost much to keep in touch”


  1. It is interesting that the first aerograms to be sent were in Inida. I still use aerograms sometimes to write to Nana or Aunty Helen as they are half the price of an overseas stamp. Obviously mostly I send emails though, much quicker and cheaper!

  2. Yes Elizabeth - thanks for the reminder that that there are those we love very much [particularly older folk] who do not have the internet facilities we easily take for granted. And those two lovely ladies are always very pleased and proud when they receive such a personal greeting from you in India [I know, because they take real delight in sharing your news with us all]

  3. When I was overseas, my mom typed me a single-spaced full-page letter everyday the mail went out. Sure helped. Can't really remember what on earth she found to talk about, but it was always a piece of home, and I enjoyed them so much. ~Liz

  4. The original one page blueys were very important to Chris and me during his six months trips away.
    I also used to write him many paged letters every other day;when the mail was dropped onto the ship (by helicopter)Chris always had a stack of letters.
    The privacy of e blueys is fabulous;our mail was censored when Chris was in the Falklands and the Gulf. On the rare occasions Chris was able to use the ship's radio to make a phone call the conversation could be heard on the ship's TVs and radios..not so private!!
    News from home is so very important to people serving away from home.
    Jane x

  5. Angela, you find the most interesting topics to write about! I remember those "one-sheet" letters. I do still send "air mail" cards, letters, and parcels. I have a dear friend who lives in Long Crendon, Bucks, and we exchange cards, letters, and presents at Christmas and Easter. She doesn't have internet. We do call now and then too. :-) I hope the "ground mail system" never goes away!
    Thanks for this interesting post!
    Have a nice Sunday.


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