10 September 2014

UNTAC German Field Post and Field Hospital

During the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) operation from 1992 to 1993, Germany was one of the contingents which ran their own field post service in Cambodia.

The two covers shown above are UNTAC mail, they feature the German field hospital handstamped cachet in blue ink and printed wordmark of UNTAC in black ink.  The contents show that both letters were written by the same United Nations Military Observers (UNMO) member to Vzlt Oswald Klier in Vienna, Austria.

The first cover postmarked 11th September 1993 was sent in Phnom Penh via German field post.  A 1DM stamp paying basic international airmail postage is tied by the "Feldpost 7415" postmark.

The second cover was sent via the Cambodian postal service, machine canceled 24th March 1993 in Chbar Ampeou, south of Phnom Penh.  A total of 530r postage was charged as Cambodia was experiencing runaway inflation.

The UNTAC mission was for the first time after WWII that Germany accepted invitation by the UN Secretary-General to take part in UN peace keeping operation.  However German laws did not allow the Bundeswehr armed forces to join with UNTAC forces, so non-combat aid was provided instead: 150 corpsmen and 350 tonnes of equipment were sent to Phnom Penh for setting up a field hospital.  This German run hospital was located in the Phnom Penh University campus (now the Royal University of Phnom Penh) and a German field post office was established in the hospital compound.

Airmail and registration was available for letters and parcels at the field post office which ran from 28th November 1992 to 31st October 1993. 

28th November 1992, the earliest day of use of Feldpost 7415.

In the beginning the hospital was exclusively for UN peacekeepers, but later it opened its door to the general public to provide free medical treatment for those who were too poor to afford local medical services.  During its operation period, more than 10,000 Cambodians were treated.

The hospital opened in May,1992 and closed in October 1993.  When the UNTAC mission ended, UNTAC and the German government decided to donate all the equipment and materials to the local hospitals because it was found that Cambodia had a great domestic need for them.

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