Registered Postal Cover
(Linen Reinforced Paper)
5 1/4 Inches by 3 1/4 inches
(13.3cm x 8.3cm)
Originally Postmarked at Strangeways, Manchester, England
16 March 1903
This postal cover is interesting in that it is from a letter sent from England to a soldier serving in India as opposed to the more commonly found covers sent home to Britain.
No. 6609 Lance corporal Thomas Copeland was born in Liverpool in 1884 the son of Harris and Maria Copeland. His service papers list his parent by name as next of kin but states their address as “not known in U.S. America.” Was Copeland born in Liverpool to American (one or both) parents and had returned home or were his parents British subjects who had emigrated to the U.S.? Either way, it is rather odd that he did not know exactly where they were at the time of his enlistment in the 1st Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment at Warrington on 23 July 1902. He stood five feet, four and three-quarters of an inch tall, and stated he was of the Jewish faith.
Copeland was posted as a Private at the regimental depot and remained in England until the regiment deployed to India on 28 October 1902. He remained in India for not quite five years when he was invalided home on 2 March 1907. His unspecified illness (the medical sheet is missing from his service papers) was debilitating enough that he was finally discharged as “medically unfit for further service” on 16 April 1907.
Copeland seemed to have had the makings of a good soldier being awarded a good conduct badge on 22 July 1904 and being appointed Lance Corporal on 18 April 1905. He also earned a 3rd class education certificate on 12 September 1904. At the time of his discharge, his character was listed as “Very good. A steady and sober man.” He saw no active service in the field while in India.
The now lost letter this cover once contained must have been of some importance since it was sent via registered mail from Strangeways, Manchester on 16 March 1904. No return address was included on the cover.
I have been unable to turn up much more regarding Thomas Copland. Before his enlistment with the regulars, he briefly served in the 3rd Battalion (Militia) of the South Lancashire Regiment. His militia attestation papers give little in the way of additional information other than listing his residence at the time of 22 Scotland Road, Liverpool - a working-class neighborhood. I have found no definitive information regarding Copeland or his parents either before or after his enlistment - including searches of U.S. records.