The BCOF Issues 1946


As a result of the Japanese surrender, the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) was formed with troops from Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and India. Headquarters were in Kure, Japan, and postal services were provided by the Australian Army Postal Service.

These overprints exist as an effort to suppress the black market that had sprung up in the sale of goods from Military Canteens and stores.

The troops could sell their goods and remit the profits made in the form of Australian stamps which their relatives back home could exchange back to cash at any Australian post office. (The PO charged 5% for this service)

To prevent stamps being 'legal tender' only overprints were subsequently issued and they were only valid for postage from Japan, via, the Australian Army Postal Service (who issued these stamps to the troops in restricted quantities)


There were seven values issued - the Ad orange Kangaroo, 1d 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The first three values Ad, I d and 3d were issued on October 12, 1946 but were withdrawn the following day because approval to overprint Australian stamps had never been sought nor granted. This printing was 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. 

half red thin

1d red thin

1d black thick and bkye black


3d black thin

3d gold thin



The series were re-issued with the seven values on May 8, 1947.

The stamps were overprinted by the Hiroshima Printing Ca, Japan using a 160 on forme of electrotype. (2panes x 80 )


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.

thin type: The Ad, 6d and Il-

2/- 120on 2 x 60

5/-  80on upper and lower panes of forty, four rows of ten

two types of paper, chalk surfaced and unsurfaced with multiple crown CofA watermark.

tyick typ The Id and 3d were the thick sans-serif type

1d blue black thick



1d blue overpritns are color changelings


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 last overprinting of the Id Queen Elizabeth was a deep blue.


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.

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.

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