Australian Defence Canteen Orders



'Pushing the Envelope' 

Dave Elsmore



Canteen Orders are akin to the Postal Note as they carry a poundage or fee paid at the time of purchase. Canteen Orders come under the same discipline as Postal Notes [see article on home page 'Judging Postal Notes''] They are rare to very rare as survival of these notes depended on the Soldier not 'cashing' them at an Australian Defence Canteen. The letter prefix before the number denotes the state of issue i.e. the note above was issued in Victoria hence V 524181. South Australian letter prefix was a single S.

A notice in the 'Courier Mail' Brisbane on 3 August 1940 reads:

Orders for Gifts to Army

"Canteen orders on Australian Defence Canteens service are available to relatives, friends and the general public, for the benefit of men of the forces in Palestine and in Australia.

They are issued by all money order Post Offices and are similar to Postal Notes.  With all the protection of a cross cheque.  They will not be available for the troops in the United Kingdom until Australia canteens are established there.

Canteen Orders are available throughout Australia in denominations of 5/- 10/- and 20/- They enable the recipient to choose his own gift that is, he can select what he wants therefore duplication is prevented, delay is avoided and postage is saved. 

A canteen order can be used for the payment of goods only.  It is necessary for the soldier, when presenting his canteen order for making his purchase, to produce his pay book for identification purposes, thus ensuring the rightful owner receives the gift.  The name and number of the soldier together with the name and address of the donor appear on the order. 

Goods sold in overseas canteens by the Australian Defence Service are not subject to any duties, sales tax, excise, or any other imposts; therefore soldiers are able to obtain far better value than is possible when gifts are purchased in Australia and posted to members of the A.I.F.  All canteens carry a wide range of products.

Profits made from the sale of goods in canteens are returned to the troops in the form of contribution to the regimental funds or by the provision of additional amenities, but when gifts are sent through the post, this kindly action does not enable the men to enjoy the additional benefit which would accrue to them through the use of canteen orders.  The system is suitable for members of group organizations to contribute to a common fund for the purchase of canteen orders.  These orders can be forwarded to commanding officers of units for distribution of gifts among the soldiers or the provision of sporting equipment, entertainments, additional fresh fruit, or edibles for the common mess".

Fig 1

The issue date  of the 2/- [fig 1] and 3/-. is unknown my studies continue.

Poundage fees:

2/-   Poundage 1d

  3/-   Poundage 1d

5/-   Poundage 2d

10/- Poundage 3d

20/- Poundage 3d

10/- & 20/- notes are unseen.

Known contributors:

Australian Comforts Funds

Australian Red Cross


copyright 1997 on

All Graphics. Dave Elsmore

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