As a result of the Japanese surrender, an Occupation Force known as BCOF was formed with troops from Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and India participating. Their headquarters in Japan
were at Kure and postal services were provided by the Australian Army Postal Service.
It was not long before a vast black market developed in Japan with the sale of goods from Military Canteens and stores. Australian stamps which were freely available were used to remit amounts home where they were exchanged at Australian Post Offices for a 5% commission. This brought about the decision by the Military Authorities to overprint stamps that would only be available ļor postage from Japan and were not acceptable for exchange at post offices in Australia.
Australian stamps for overprinting were made available to the Department of the Army in Japan by an arrangement with the Postmaster General's Department. It is important to know that they were not issued under the authority of the Australian Post Office but were overprinted and authorised by the Australian Army.
There were seven values issued - the Ad orange Kangaroo, Id purple Queen Elizabeth, 3d brown George VI, 6d brown Kookaburra, I I- green Lyrebird, 2!- maroon Kangaroo redrawn die and the 5!- Queen Elizabeth in Coronation Robes on thick and thin papers.
The first three values Ad, I d and 3d were issued on October 12, 1946 but were withdrawn the following day because approval to overprint Australian stamps had never been sought nor granted.
The series were re-issued with the seven values on May 8, 1947. They were also sold on troopships running between Australia and Japan.
The stamps were overprinted by the Hiroshima Printing Ca, Japan. The Ad, I d and 3d originally issued in October appeared to be a trial overprint of the thin seriffed type. All were from an experimental proof sheet printing and it is believed only one sheet was printed before deciding not to proceed with these particular types.
They are all in The Collection, the Ad Kangaroo had a red overprint, the I d Queen also had a red overprint and a dull grey black overprint. The 3d George VI brown had a gold overprint, also red and black overprints. They are cancelled October II, 1946 Aust Army P0 241.
Proof sheets exist on plain paper of these overprints dated October 8, 1946 and the proofs are very scarce.
There were two types of overprint used and made into typeset forms. The Ad, 6d and Il- were the thin seriffed type in an overprint forme of 160, two panes of eighty, ten rows of eight.
The Id brown Queen Elizabeth is the stamp sometimes seen in a blue shade. This was created by being subjected to a chemical action and as a result the yellow pigment in the ink became fugitive. A number are known but have no special interest or value.
The Id and 3d were the thick sans-serif type and an overprint forme of 160 for the post office sheets, two panes of eighty. For the 2- value the thin type was used and the overprint was 120. two panes of sixty. For the 5/- the thin type was used and the overprint forme was eighty, upper and lower panes of forty, four rows of ten, found on two types of paper, chalk surfaced and unsurfaced with multiple crown CofA watermark.
The overprinting was certainly not of a very high standard with many typesetting errors, about 75 on the proof sheets. Later the overprints showed also considerable moving of the type, blurred overprints and many damaged letters. It was also obvious other varieties occurred from incomplete cleaning of the forme.
A comprehensive listing is available in the Australian Commonwealth Specialists Catalogue but it would be very difficult to complete.
Strict control of the issue was established and all stamps supplied to BCOF had to be accounted for.
Although on general issue to the Australian Forces in Japan only a small issue was allowed to each person per week.
The BCOF stamps were withdrawn on February 12, 1949 and unsold remainders were destroyed by burning on March 28, 1949.
The official figures of the stamps issued were:
Ad 189,670; Id 378,750; 3d 891,643; 6d 136,133; Il- 131,055; 2/- 62,651; 5/- 32,508.
Of the latter approximately 6,000 were the thin paper issue.
The By Authority imprint on the 5/- issue appeared on thick paper and thin paper. It appears only on about 150 of these thin paper imprints, so it is scarce. The John Ash imprint only appeared on thick paper. The last overprinting of the Id Queen Elizabeth was a deep blue.
Major varieties included the blue overprint of the Id, 3d and 1/- double overprints, 2/- double perforation, 5/- unsurfaced paper and approximately 75 varieties including a treble overprint. So there are plenty of challenges for the keen specialist in this series.
In the May 1949 AS Mon page 325 appears "Fraudulent 5/- BCOF imprint blocks . These fakes were made by attaching imprints taken from the sheet of the ordinary 5/- Robes Australian stamps to ordinary block of four 5/- BCOF.
Neatly joined the finished job was sufficiently good to pass casual examination but the blocks could not survive the scrutiny of the quartz lamp. Moreover, the watermark does not correctly register. The fakes originated in Victoria but were quickly detected by dealers and the ASDA As far as is known, none of the fakes are held by collectors.