Akbou, Algeria, 1956

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The native Arab and Berber populations of the Maghreb evidently had little use for de Laurence products, because mail from this region is scarce. The examples that exist are mostly soldiers’ mail posted during the Algerian War (1954-1962), when thousands of French colonial troops from elsewhere in Africa poured into the region. This pictorial envelope has a blue cachet (to the right of the stamp) indicating the sender was a member of the 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Regiment of Colonial Infantry (RIC). It was free-franked in the field (“FM,” for “Franchise Militaire,” upper right) and received a “Poste aux Armées” cancel with 30 francs French postage added later to facilitate transmission through international mails. The sender wrote “par avion” in the upper left corner, but postal officials covered this up with the stamp because military mail was not entitled to free air mail service.


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