US Military Post Offices in New Zealand

The location of US ships, army divisions, etc. was not publically known and mail was sent via Fleet Post Offices or Army Post Offices. Numbers were allocated and the associated location often changed as units were moved around.

Various Naval and Army Post Offices were based in New Zealand during different parts of the war.

Trans-Pacific air mail by US Navy

to 18th Marines

At first sight, this cover appears to have nothing to do with New Zealand. It is a registered cover franked with 24c from New Orleans where it is addressed to a Lt. Commander in the 18th Marines at the Fleet Post Office in San Francisco.

It has a registration backstamp in New Orleans on 31 May 1943, a San Francisco registration backstamp on 1 June and a further US Navy backstamp on 1 June. It then has a U.S. Navy 132 backstamp on 12 June and a U.S. Navy 133 backstamp on 15 June.

The location of US naval ships and overseas stations were not known to the public and so mail was addressed to the Fleet Post Office who would then route it to its destination.

There were two Fleet Post Offices, the other being in New York. The San Francisco office dealt with mail for all ships and stations in the Pacific and was opened on 1 May 1942.

to 18th Marines

At that time, the 18th Marines were based in New Zealand and a list of Navy Post Office Numbers shows that Navy 132 was Auckland and Navy 133 was Wellington.

After being flown from New Orleans to San Francisco on 31 May - 1 June, this cover was then flown by the US Navy Air Transport Service (NATS) from San Francisco to Auckland where it was backstamped on 12 June and then to Wellington on 15 June. The planes used were Martin Mariner and Coronardo flying boats and the route was via Hawaii - Palmyra - Canton Island - Wallis Island (Samoa) - Fiji - New Caledonia [1, 2].

Another cover to Lt Commander Oakley, also from his wife, is shown here (fourth cover from the top).

US Army Post Offices (APO)

US Army Post Office APO 715

From October 1942 until March 1945 the US Army Post Office Number APO 715 was in Auckland. The Auckland base was for US hospitals, training camps and reserve units [1].

This cover is postmarked on 10 October 1942 and the postmark is: U.S. Army Postal Service A.P.O..


When sending a letter, the sender had to write their name and APO number on the outside. This cover was sent by a Captain from APO 715, i.e. Auckland and is addressed to Wisconsin.

It has a handstamp stating that it was passed by the Base Army Examiner. It would be sent to the USA by an American military flight likely provided by the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Service (SCAT) part of the US Army Air Force. It would not pass through the New Zealand postal services.

APO 43

This cover is postmarked on 30 June 1944 and is addressed to Rhode Island. There is a signed Passed by Army Examiner handstamp in the bottom left and a 43 under the U.S. Army Postal Service in the postmark.

The sender's address in the top left is given as 172nd Inf. A.P.O. 43.

The 172nd Infantry was one of the regiments making up the US Army 43rd Infantry Division which was based in Auckland between 19 February and 19 July 1944 before moving to Aitape in New Guinea.

To New Zealand from APO 25

APO 25 was associated with the US Army 25th Infantry Division which was based in Auckland from January to mid February 1944.

This cover is addressed to North Auckland and is postmarked on 5 June 1944. By this time the Division had moved to New Caledonia, but the letter is perhaps addressed to someone the sender had met during their brief stay in New Zealand.

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[1] Airmails of New Zealand, volume 3, R.M. Startup, 1997.
[2] Pacific Air Mails, R.M. Startup, The Mail Coach, vol 14, pp 175-184, April 1978.