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Tuesday, 22 March 1966

Mr FAIRHALL (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Defence) - As I understand it, there was a proposal by the Hobart Subbranch of the Returned Servicemen's League to make a collection of wartime mail and from the post marks thereon to trace the movement and location of defence forces abroad. Unfortunately, the departmental files do not retain either wrappers or envelopes and therefore no postmarks would be available. Furthermore, I would be a little appalled at the amount of work that might be involved for the Department of Defence in trying to relate one to the other to achieve what might well be a rather indifferent result. In fact, during the war mail was so dealt with as to hide the location and identity of the various units. Most of the mail collected from Air Force and Army units went to the nearest base post office and therefore the postmarks would not really identify locations. I understand that the situation is even worse in respect of the Navy because mail, having been collected, was not stamped until arrival at the next port of call. For all these reasons, I do not think that a project of this kind would really produce a useful result.

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