It has been a wonderful response from different places of the state including Darjeeling District regarding my findings on the Postal History of Sikkim. I am happy that my readers found information that they have less heard. Continuing to the previous article I here share about the Postal System of the British Expedition of 1888 that played an important in turning over of Sikkim of what it is today.
Geoffrey Flack in “Sikkim Field Force 1888-89; Precursor to the Younghusband Expedition” published in Postal Himal (No.78, 2nd Quarter 1994) writes ……. on March 20th 1888 Brigadier General T Graham was send with a force of 2000 men to retake the lands of Sikkim that was invaded by the Tibetans. The Tibetans offered little resistance, crossed the Jalepla and attacked Gnatong, The British men forced the Tibetans to drive them to the frontiers.
Brigadier General T Graham requested for the extension of the telegraph line towards the Tibetan side of Jalepla that was later sanctioned making the entry of Arthur Edmund Sandbach to the land of Sikkim. Sandbach was a Royal Engineer to the Bengal Sappers and Miners. Arrival of Sandbach to Sikkim plays an important role in the early development of postal systems in Sikkim. It was due to his letters send from the frontiers of Sikkim and Tibet during his 11 months staying with the British Field Force that had surfaced new addition of the long forgotten postal history of Sikkim.
Sandbach and his unit arrives at Sikkim and immediately makes into Tibet frontier, camping at a place called “Byutan”, an unknown place name till now east of Jalepla frontier near Bhutan border on November 9th, 1888. Sandbach and his unit stays at Tibet for three weeks before returning to Gnatong on December 3rd, 1888. Along with the telegraphs, EXPERIMENTAL P.O. C-7 of the British Forces was also with the Sandbach’s unit at Tibet.
EXPERIMENTAL P.O. C-7 was established at Gnatong and it might had travelled with Sandbach’s unit to the Tibetan frontier cannot be denied. The website Invaluable.com states the description of an auctioned Post Card as “1889 (3 Dec.) 1/4a. brown stationery card from Private John Sullivan of the Connaught Rangers at Sikkim to Bombay, cancelled with a good strike of the "experimental po/c-7" c.d.s. and with Market Bombay arrival c.d.s. alongside; the contents requesting the addressee to send a catalogue to the writer at Sikkim; most unusual. The card with a couple of small faults though a rare item of mail from this obscure military operation.”
Sandbach’s correspondence provides a great deal of information about the postal history of Sikkim Field Force. Another remarkably cancellation received from the Sandbach’s correspondence used inside Sikkim are the ‘EXPERIMENTAL P.O. C-3’ and ‘EXPERIMENTAL P.O C-22’.
‘EXPERIMENTAL P.O C-3’ is the rarest of the cancellation of the Sikkim Field Force of 1888-89. Only 3 covers had been found dated October 3rd and 5th, 1888 used most probably at Rangpo where Sandbach had stayed on his visit. Ten covers from ‘EXPERIMENTAL P.O C-22’ had been found cancelled at Rhenock Ridge. The covers was used between December 16th, 1888 to late May 1889.