Lot 675 World War I Royal Canadian Navy postal history collection with 55 items, much of the material being written up on pages. Includes scarce boxed censor handstamps and double circle markings, cards with ship named, different “No charge to be raised” markings, card addressed to Abu Zabal, Cairo (R.N. Radio Station). Many items with messages/enclosures. Many rare items. A seldom offered group. Estimate $1,000, sold for C$900 plus buyer’s premium.
Military Mail seems to always draw strong interest, and this attractive collection garnered several bids: Lot 720 Canada Collection of Military Mail, WWI and On, in four volumes. Includes militia camps, WWI F.P.O.s, M.P.O.’s, censor mail, WWII F.P.O.s, orderly room handstamps, W-force in Newfoundland, etc. mostly to the end of WWII, but some later. Mostly fine or better. Estimate $400, sold for $725 plus buyer’s premium.
— Research, lotting and annotation by C. R. (Ron) McGuire, FRPSC, OTB, OTBLAA, Canadian military/postal historian.
This rare archive has much potential for further research by those interested in the Viner family, genealogy, British Legion, postal, military and/or social history. There are twelve lots containing many rare, unusual and seldom seen items from Captain Viner’s long and exciting military-related career. Careful perusal of the contents of each lot is suggested. It is offered in Sparks Auction #9, February 22, 2012, as lots 1449-1460. Please contact us if you have any questions about bidding on this material.
BL = British Legion
BLVPF = British Legion Volunteer Police Force
CEF = Canadian Expeditionary Force
CMR = Cape Mounted Rifles
PC = Printed Picture Postcard
RPPC = Real Photograph Picture Postcard
Unless otherwise described the items are in very good to excellent condition. Items indicated as being glued to scrapbook pages or having portions of the page still adhering, may be removed with care. Click on the Lot Number to be taken to the listing on Stamp Auction Network; click on underlined descriptions to see key items which we have scanned. Until February 15th, we can provide additional scans of other items upon request.
CONRAD CHARLES VINER
Conrad Charles Viner was born in 1880 and died in 1945. He served in the Boer War with the South African Constabulary returning after to serve with the Cape Mounted Rifles, and spent time in Liberia. His experiences in Africa permitted him to contribute to two significant books, one on the Boer War and another concerning Liberia.
After returning to Britain, Viner joined the Legion of Frontiersmen. He immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada where he homesteaded for a period before returning to Britain to serve with the Royal Field Artillery as a gas officer. After the War he was with the Occupation Force in Germany. While he returned briefly to Canada, the effects on his health of gas attacks made it necessary for him to return to Britain where he was very involved with the British Legion. Viner was on the Legion’s tour of Germany in 1935 and visit to Paris in 1939. He was one of 1200 chosen to be a member of the British Legion Volunteer Police Force that was to serve in Czechoslovakia in 1935. He was a Special Constable for Kent County for nearly twenty years until his death.
A more complete biography can be found further down this page.
There are twelve lots in Sparks Auction #9, containing many rare, unusual and seldom-seen items from Captain Viner’s long and exciting military-related career. While the print catalogue and Stamp Auction Network listings provide only short descriptions, what follows here are more detailed long lot descriptions followed by a full biography which cross-references the lots as they relate to the chronological biography.
Viner’s British passport issued on 24 Nov. 1937. It is signed on the inside cover by [Sir] Anthony Eden [1897-1977] as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. This was the first of three periods Eden held that position. He later replaced Sir Winston S. Churchill as Prime Minister from 1955-57;
Also items from Umtata, in the Eastern Cape Province, where Viner’s CMR camp was located. It was first established as a military post in 1882. On 2 March 2004 it was renamed Mthatha. It is the area where many of South Africa’s black leaders originated, including Nelson Mandela and where there are three Mandela museums. Includes:
a four page card stock CMR New Year’s Day 1909 water carnival programme with advertisements for several local businesses; a six page card stock programme [back cover missing] for a military tournament 8th Sept. 1909;
a six page programme for the Coronation Celebrations at Umtata 1911 with a Royal purple cover;
a 4-¾” x 6-½ souvenir on heavy card stock produced by The Territorial Studio, Umtata with text in three blocks: THE CMR FAREWELL TO KING EDWARD VII / FIRING A SALUTE OF 68 GUNS [for his 68th birthday] and in gold embossed letters decorated with a horseshoe and floral design WISHING YOU – HAPPY CHRISTMAS with five 1-¼” x 5-¼” photos of the CMR firing the salute;
a CMR embossed crested Band Cape Mounted Rifle programme for 25 Nov 1911;
an unused picture postcard of the Union-Castle Line Royal Mail Steamer Saxon;
a four page RMS Saxon programme of sports held on board 30 and 31 August 1911, [condition is poor], C.C. Vyner [sic] is listed as one of three clerks of the course. This is the ship that brought Viner back to Britain, with an extended stay and adventurous journeys in certain tribal regions of Liberia after his tour of duty in South Africa (See also Lot 1452).
There are also more than 150 real photographs including an album containing approximately ninety-nine excellent, candid, mainly clear but glued- in photographs, which with care can be removed from the pages. Includes approximately thirty-five 5” x 7”, 5-1/2” x 7-1/2”, or 6” x 8” candid photographs, all with descriptive captions and photographer credit data on the front including:
Thirteen by Van Hoepen of Pretoria, plus one printed taken from a publication captioned Boers on Commando;
Eight by an unidentified photographer and may be Van Hoepen’s work;
Soon after arriving home Viner joined the Legion of Frontiersmen, his Certificate of Enrolment confirms he was member number 5791. It is signed by Lt. Colonel D.P. Driscoll as Secretary. Driscoll was leader of Driscoll’s Scouts during the Boer War. There is also a photocopy of seven pages of The Legion of Frontiersmen – A Brief History.
Lot 1451 consists of a fine copy, with poor dust cover, of the first edition of Volume II of the 592-page The Milner Papers – South Africa 1899-1905, published by Cassell & Co. Ltd., London, in 1933. It was edited by Cecil Headlam. There is a handwritten and signed letter dated Oct. 31, 1933 from Headlam to Viner thanking him and acknowledging his help with the book and a small typed piece of paper expressing “with the Editor’s compliments.”
Eight different 5-1/4” x 4-1/4” photographs by T.B. McCrownsay, of Haper [Harper misspelled], Cape Palmas, Liberia mounted on card 6-1/2” x 4-1/2” with his advertising logo on back. Someone has added two descriptions, some of which are difficult to decipher, on the reverse of each photo in pencil, they are:
1 — ‘Sabo big town’ & ‘name Suere and women …’
2 — ‘Padibo idols King and chifes’ [chiefs]
3 — ‘Padibo …chiefs’ [there is much scrapbook page adhering therefore little of descriptions can be seen]
7 — ‘Padibo Town where the English lodge then they dig gold’
8 — ‘Kunebo big town with one chief and girls’ & ‘…big consul name Nyllah and girls’;
This lot contains as well a Christmas card from Dr, and Mrs. Emlyn, Jos. Naragota P.O., Northern Nigeria, December 1912. Also a good copy with loose binding of Liberia by Sir Harry Johnston, Hutchinson & Co., London, 1906. This is Volume II of two volumes and includes pages I to XVI and 521 to 1183. The well-illustrated book, with sixteen pages in colour, and three maps includes “An appendix on the flora of Liberia” by Dr. Otto Staph, F.L.S. It has Viner’s signature on the inside front cover and the index has three references to him, on pages X, 1079 and 1082. The text has several quotes from ‘Mr. Conrad Viner’s report’ and confirms he ‘visited the Buzi country in the early part of 1906 when this portion of Western Liberia was recovering from civil war.’
The pencil Viner used during the war, incised along the side ‘E, Baker & Son – Pat. 7985/10 [for 1910] – Rd. No. 566825 – STERLING SILVER.’ It has a moveable clasp for attaching to a lanyard for wearing around the neck, most useful while in the field.
two typed different Christmas 1916 greetings signed by the OC 39 Brigade RFA;
a RPPC of Viner in a crossed flags patriotic matte. He is wearing a uniform with Royal Army Medical Corps Cap Badge. He may have been temporarily assigned while convalescing in hospital during 1916, recovering from effects of gas;
RPPC  and a 2-1/2” x 1-1/2” photograph of five soldiers, one playing a banjo;
Christmas cards with various military crests, war illustrations or patriotic motifs ;
two German military maps with ‘our march to Germany’ which Viner noted and marked in pencil;
three RPPCs depicting a British or French military funeral [unused], a group of German soldiers mailed by a German soldier, a group of about fifty members of the German bicycle corps led by an officer on horseback [unused] and a printed PC of a group of German officers mailed by a German soldier;
German Red Cross issue sent by L/C F.G. Ansell, a British POW acknowledging receipt of a parcel;
Eight RPPCs of Germans troops retreating over a suspension bridge in Cologne, three have photographer credit ‘Hans Reinhardt, Coln-Klettenberg,’ but four of the others appear to be his work as well;
Six RPPCs by Reinhardt of a German military funeral;
Thirteen printed and RPPCs, 4 unused, 9 written and mailed by Viner from APO/FPOs to his wife, one of the most interesting is autographed by Bernard Mewfield with ‘France 1918’. He is wearing a Pierrot costume. On the message side Viner states ‘This chap runs our Pierrot troup.’ Mewfield was part of one of the many groups that entertained troops during the war. He went on to make several movies during the 1930s;
A note written in English and signed by Baroness Trott zes Lolz explaining why the stoves in her house that was being occupied by the British Army did not function and her ‘regret to be obliged to give you cold bedrooms.’ On the back Viner wrote ‘ This is where we have been billeted in an old German castle at Metterniche.’ Several of the postcards in this group depict the castle;
A two page German propaganda message to the French population entitled Pourquoi continuer la lutte? [Why continue the fight?]. Dated 12 October 1918, it was dropped by the Germans from aircraft to encourage French surrender. A rare example in good condition actually dropped, and saved by Viner as a souvenir.
Viner immigrated to Saskatchewan to settle a homestead about 1913, leaving to serve in WWI and returned afterwards to resume homesteading. He eventually did not stay because the ill effects from being gassed made the primitive conditions and climate difficult to endure. Lot 1456 includes:
Six RPPCs, one used, two depicting work horses in winter; a threshing scene; the Skating Rink – Govan, Sask.; a billiard hall, barber shop and dry cleaners, probably Govan; the used card is by Jessop, captioned Semans Sask., date lined Semans, Sask. – 26 Feb 1915 with an undecipherable postmark;
An unused RPPC of two young unidentified soldiers, not Viner, with blind embossed credit for photographer Townsend – Regina ;
A United States Mail Steamer St. Louis Programme of Entertainment dated 18 Nov. 1915. Viner is listed performing solo singing selected tunes. This is the ship Viner returned to Britain aboard. Good condition, some staining;
BRITISH LEGION RELATED AND REGIMENTAL REUNION MATERIAL
Viner was a member of the British Legion from at least 1924 and was very involved with the organization and it activities, the most important of which was being one of the 1200 chosen for the British Legion Volunteer Police Force [BLVPF] in 1938. (See also Lot 1458.)
A printed letter [with staining and glued to the back of a scrap book cover] beginning “I am very pleased to see so many of my Old Comrades here today” from King George VI dated 27 June 1937 on embossed crested Buckingham Palace letterhead, the envelope in which it was sent to Viner. The envelope [with some foxing] is franked with a half penny George VI stamp for mailing printed matter in an unsealed envelope. We believe the letter refers to a visit by BL members, including Viner, to the palace. While the letter does not specifically refer to the BL, only the Brotherhood of Ex-Service Men, the King does refer to being to himself as ‘Patron,’ which he was of the BL, as well as other Veteran’s groups. We also believe the letters were sent to these organizations in bulk and forwarded on to members that were in attendance at the event held during the King and Queen’s Coronation year.
The Brighton Branch of the BL organized a visit to Germany from 25 September to 3 October 1935. Viner was among the group to go and fraternize with their former enemy veterans. He returned to Germany in June 1936 for a private visit. On the way to Germany the BL visited war sites in Belgium where many had fought. Items include:
War Sites of the 1914-1918 Campaign Belgian Army – Booklet No. 1, a 54-page booklet with map;
Unused PCs of Belgian war memorials , brass or bronze 1-1/4” medallion souvenir of the 1935 International Exhibition held in Brussels, there is a lion and text on one side and a native woman and Congo on the other, probably a souvenir of the Congo Pavilion.
an aluminum 2” medallion well illustrated on both sides concerning Monasterivm Westpha;
a brass 1-7/8” x 1-14/16” upright rectangle pin-back with swastika, buildings, Munster town crest and dates 23 – 29 September 1935, the period a festival was held there;
a metal pin-back with the vignettes of two German soldiers, text ‘Deutsch-Englisches Frontkampffertreffen-Sept. 1935’, this is the emblem/logo that appears on the sixteen-page ‘programm’ [in English] and a thirty-page copy of Der Heimfehrer, the German Veterans Association magazine [in German] for 1 December 1935 which records the visit with text and many photographs; both booklets are in the lot;
‘Eastertide in Germany’, a twenty-page, card covered booklet in English;
a handwritten and signed letter to Viner from Major-General T.M.S. Pitt on his ‘Pett Place, Charing, Kent’ letterhead [Pitt led the delegation of about 250 BL members from area branches to welcome the Germans at Dover];
souvenir pamphlets/booklets from sites visited ;
a pre-printed letter dated 8 August 1939 on BL Haig House, London letterhead [Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig was one of the founders of the BL in 1921] signed by the BL Chairman Major Sir Francis Fetherston-Godley, OBE, DL, thanking members for their attendance on the recent visit to Paris and with complimentary remarks about their conduct on the visit;
a copy of a letter to Fetherston-Godfrey from ‘Halifax’ at the Foreign Office dated 10 Aug. 1939 responding to a copy of the previous letter that was sent to him. Halifax states in part ‘how glad I am to hear of the great success of the visit’;
newspaper clippings with reports of the visit [6 of various lengths] plus a picture of the laying of a wreath at Versailles.
A copy of the September 1939 British Legion Journal with well-illustrated coverage of the visit;
Miscellaneous items concerning non-BL reunions include menus for Old Comrades 1st Division of Artillery annual Dinners on 21 April 1923, 25 April 1925 with five autographs in pencil, including Major General Sir Webb Gillman, KCMG, CB, DSO, and 24 April 1926. They are all on card stock, two with the Division’s crest.
BRITISH LEGION VOLUNTEER POLICE FORCE RELATED MATERIAL
At the critical time of Adolf Hitler’s 1938 expansionist moves towards Czechoslovakia, Viner was one of 1200 chosen from over 10,000 British Veterans who volunteered for this early version of a ‘Peacekeeping Force,’ and one of forty from Kent County. This may be the most complete collection of material in existence from a member of this Force, which ultimately did not reach Czechoslovakia, as it was thwarted by international events. Lot 1458 includes:
special cap badge and lapel pin, only issued to Force members. For reasons unknown the cap badge features the Queen’s Crown while the pin has the correct, King’ Crown;
a 3-3/8” x 5-¼” photograph mounted on 6-½” x 9” card depicts Viner in his BLVPF uniform. It is dedicated to his daughter Noel and signed Father. His cap badge, BL lapel pin, [he probably used his BLVPF pin on his great coat] and the arm band showing BL of BL 1 on his left arm;
a printed Peace and Friendship Go With You from Queen Elizabeth on a card
3-½” x 4-½” with the BL Women’s Section crest on top. The Queen was its President;
Front page of the Kent Messenger with photos of members of the BLVPF from the area. Viner is identified as The Officer Commanding the Kent Contingent;
printed criteria that the volunteers were to meet and specific requirements, for example: “In addition to [the 40 volunteers from Kent, an additional] 14 motor-cyclists were required,” some staining and edges ragged;
printed BLVPF – Terms of Service, some staining and edges ragged;
printed No.1 – The Legion Police Observer – on board H.M.T.S. Naldera [one of the two ships assigned to transport the Force, the other was the H.M.T.S. Dunera], 13 October. 1938, two pages of very interesting content, some staining and edges ragged;
a second copy of the two pages described above and in similar condition;
a copy of the November 1938 The British Legion Journal with The Full Story of the Legion Volunteer Police Force including many illustrations and the Legion President’s talk with Hitler;
a lovely Christmas card, designed by Lt. Col. B. Granville Baker [and described on page 167 of the November BL Journal] that was sent to Viner by W. L. Marsh, member of BLVPF;
a Christmas card from Colonel Peter Layard, the Commanding Officer of the BLVPF No. 1 Division to whom Viner was Second in Command;
the box with a typed sticker Kent – Conrad Viner stuck on the box top. Its contents were an emblem as indicated by the very interesting typed note that was also enclosed. We believe that the ‘emblem’ may have been the BLVPF cap badge. When found the box also contained Major Raymond Gildea Robertson’s calling card and 2-3/4” piece of ribbon for a Special Constabulary Long Service Medal issued to those serving for at least nine years. Viner would have been entitled to this medal because he served with the Kent County Division as a Special Constable from 1926 to just before his death in 1943 [See Viner’s Certificate of Service in Lot 1449];
Scrapbook with names of officers of No. 1 Company – No.1 Division typed on the Berth Numbers’ assignment sheet [glued to the inside front cover];
Viner’s First Class – Berthing Card, confirming he was on B Deck – Cabin 421 [not glued in];
printed letter with blind embossed crest of the Foreign Office dated 14 October 1938 with original signature of Halifax with interesting content, [glued in];
printed notice dated 15 October 1938 from F.W.C. Fetherston-Godley, Chairman British Legion, Commander British Legion Volunteer Police with very interesting content about the BLVPF’s “non-employment as a force” [glued in];
an original handwritten three-stanza poem ‘To Kent’s Best,’ dated Oct. 7th 1938 and signed by the poetess, Mabel O. Link on her embossed notepaper [glued in];
with 20 pages of newspaper clippings of various length with many illustrations.
July 1901 The Ladies’ Home Journal, 32 pages, large size 11-¼” x 16-¼” format with many articles, illustrations and advertisements of interest to women, as well as men, most notable is an article by prominent period architect, Frank Lloyd Wright entitled “A Small House with ‘Lots of Room in It’.” There are four illustrations of the outside  and inside , four floor plans and two schemes for placing it on a 100 square foot lot. It was estimated to cost $5835.00, if it existed today it would probably sell for five million plus!
The Times of India Centenary Annual 1939, 10” x 13”, ½” thick magazine with unnumbered pages covering the history of India since 1839 with articles and illustrations, the most notable of which are seven, tipped-in, 7” x 10” colour prints of reproductions of paintings by W.S. Bylityilis , W.E. Gladstone Solomon , P.G. Sirur  and unidentified artists . There were eight prints, but one is missing.
Biography of Conrad Charles Viner
[Links to illustrations are underlined. Related Sparks Auction Lot Numbers are in bold and parentheses; click to be taken to the listing on StampAuctionNetwork.com for bidding.]
Parents Frederick Hutt and Rosalie Viner [nee Back], who were married on 15 November 1876. Frederick was the third son of William Viner of Cirencoster. Rosalie was the forth daughter of Alfred Back of Stratford St., Manchester, Suffolk.
In the collection there are eight candid 4” x 5-1/4” photographs mounted on 4-1/4” x 6-1/2” card with ‘Haper’ (error for Harper) photographer, T.G. McCrownsay’s monogram printed on the backs. Someone has documented the views in pencil on the reverse (Lot 1452).
• Cape Mounted Rifles Five years. He enrolled on 21 Aug. 1906, was regimental number 4561 and completed his service on 10 Aug. 1911. This is confirmed by his Discharge Certificate signed by Colonel R.C. Grant, Acting Commandant General, Cape Colonial Forces. Viner’s discharge was at his own request, time expired. This lovely parchment double-sided document states that his sobriety was good, he was efficient, and his general character was good. His height was 5 ft 9-1/4 inches (an inch-and-a-half less than when he joined the CEF in 1915), with brown hair, tan complexion, and “grayish blue” eyes. Col. Grant also signed the reverse side of the document, but this time as Commanding Cape Mounted Riflemen. The CMR’s Head Quarters is given as King William’s Town, South Africa. Viner is known to have served in the Umtata area during his time with the CMRs, confirmed by several items.
There is a RPPC of a woman holding a child, identified as Hilda and Rosemary (Viner’s sister), posted with a Hampstead S.O. double circle postmark on Oct 31 1907 to him at Kopstad, East Grigualand, South Africa with a faint Nov 24 1907 receiver postmark. (Lot 1450)
Viner returned to England aboard the R.M.S. Saxon. There is a four page Programme of Sports for 30th & 31st, 1911. Viner’s name is written in pencil as winning the three-legged race and on the team that won the tug of war. Before departing he requested a letter, which is on the Office of the Gunnery Instructor, C.M.R. and dated 19th August 1911, confirming “…that No. 4561 Rifleman C.C. Viner is a passed Gunner on the following: -15. pr. [pound] B.L. Gun, -2.5 R.M.L. Gun, -Maxim Machine Gun.”
• Legion of Frontiersmen Viner served from 12 Feb. 1912 until he immigrated to Canada in 1913. This is confirmed by a Certificate of Enrolment stating he was a Member, Class A. His Legion Badge number was 5791 and was enclosed with the certificate. Unfortunately, this badge is not in the collection nor are Viner’s military service medals. The certificate is signed by Lt. Colonel D.P. Driscoll as Secretary, Legion of Frontiersmen. More important however, is that Driscoll was commanding Officer of Driscoll’s Scouts which fought in the Boer War. He joined the Legion in 1907 and in 1914 organized the Legion Home Command. The group consisted of eleven hundred Frontiersmen and became the 25th [Frontiersmen] Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. There is a photocopy of seven pages of The Legion of Frontiersmen – A Brief History.
• 68th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force With the outbreak of World War I he joined the 68th Battalion of the CEF and returned to England in November 1915. Viner served in France and Germany and remained with the Army of Occupation until 1919, leaving with the rank of Captain.
It appears that Viner transferred to the British army and was initially with the Royal Field Artillery. Later he was a Lieutenant, serving as a Gas Officer, with the 1st Divisional Artillery from June 1916 until August 1918. He contributed to a SECRET report entitled Effect on the Enemy of our Gas Attacks between 24th June and 15th July 1916. There is the original hand written nine-page [8-1/2” x 14”] report prepared by Captain S.J.M. Auld of the D.A.D.G.S. dated August 24th 1916 in excellent condition. An original two-page report, entitled Effect of our Gas on the Enemy for November 1917 is also included. There is as well an original two-page report, entitled Use of British Projectors on the French Front. In addition, the 1917 Cover for Documents contains approximately forty internal documents [sixty-five pages on various size sheets] concerning the effects of British gas attacks, programme of the XIX Corps Gas School, diagrams, reports on German gas shells, use of respirators, use of chlorine to counter-act mustard gas, etc. Undoubtedly a unique group of confidential documents on this terrible form of warfare. There is also a photocopy of the documents which permit studying them without using the originals, some of which are fragile, however, the general condition is good to excellent. (Lot 1454)
Viner’s daughter, Noel recalled her father was exposed to German gas attacks, with long term ill effects. The damage to his lungs forced him to reluctantly cease homesteading in Saskatchewan and return home to England after only about a year in Canada.
There is also a superb, clear sepia real photograph postcard depicting three Viner brothers, Conrad and George Noel [Rex], looking as though they may be twins, wearing British Army Officer uniforms and the third, Gordon, in a what is believed to be a Royal Navy officer’s uniform. Military buffs may be able to identify their cap badges and ranks from these photos. They had another brother, Cuthburt who was an Anglican Minister and is believed not to have served in the war. Noel and Gordon were killed in action, while Conrad survived that terrible war, which was predicted by H.G. Wells in the title of his book published in late 1914, to be The War that Will End War; if only it had!
Viner’s original [indicated by a hand stamp] Qualification Certificate, Form No. 36 from the Canadian Soldier Settlement Board issued at Saskatoon, Sask., Aug. 4 1919 confirms he was in the Imperial Forces, entitled to benefits under the Soldiers Settlement Act and that he had farming and other qualifications necessary to become a settler on the land and engage in Mixed Farming. Condition is excellent.
A letter from the manager of the Govan, Saskatchewan Royal Bank of Canada dated 19 July 1920 is addressed to Viner at The Bungalow, Maidenhead, Berks. England. This indicates he returned to England by that date.
There are twenty-five sepia photographs and RPPCs of a homestead, exteriors and interiors, and farming summer, fall and winter scenes. One shows a man at the top of a teepee structure which is identified as ‘looking out for the mail’, a RPPC of the Skating Rink – Govan, Sask., a used RPPC view of Semans, Sask. by Jessop, a RPPC of a Billiard Hall & Barber Shop and Frank Gandy’s Cleaning, Pressing and Repairing shop, unfortunately with no town location, but probably either Govan or Semans and could be determined with research in period directories. (Lot 1456)
Like many of his comrades, Viner joined the British Legion when it was first formed in 1921 and was very involved with their many activities as well as Regimental reunions. He was endeavoring to have BL branches established in the Charing area as early as 1924, confirmed by a newspaper clipping. He was part of the Legion visit to Germany in 1935 and the German veterans return visit shortly after. There are many items concerning this historic trip to meet and celebrate with former enemies. (Lot 1457)
Viner was chosen to be part of the 1200-man British Legion Volunteer Police Force to be sent to Czechoslovakia [Adolf Hitler’s Sudetenland] in October 1938 to preserve order during the plebiscites which were expected to be held. He was the Second in Command of the Kent Contingent, No, 4 Company, No. 1 Division under Colonel Layard; there is a Christmas card from him to Viner in the collection. Viner’s picture along with others involved are featured on the front page of the Kent Messenger of 8 Oct 1938. The paper’s text states Viner was a Captain. However, the document he received indicating the deck and berth assignments aboard the H.M.T.S. Naldera for he and other officers, lists him as Major. This is probably correct as he would likely have been promoted, even temporarily, for this assignment. Viner and the other men were chosen from a group of 10,000 veterans who initially volunteered, and had to meet strict criteria. He would have easily qualified because of his vast military experience and ability to speak German. (Lot 1458)
In August 1939 Viner was part of a group of Legion members who returned to Paris to visit the sites they fought in during the First World War, ironically the Second World War erupted the next month. There are many items concerning this trip. (Lot 1457)
A certificate issued by the Kent County Special Constabulary, Ashford Division on 10th June 1943, confirms Viner served in the constabulary from 11th May 1926 to 9th June 1943 at Charing. It confirms ‘during that time he performed, without pay and in a satisfactory manner, all the duties required of him in his capacity as a special constable’ and that Viner lived in England from 11th May 1926. There is his copy of An A B C for Special Constables and Police War Reserves, June 1941, Third Edition, an indispensible 139-page, card covered booklet. Charing was on several of the German bomber flight routes and a man of Viner’s expertise would be invaluable for capturing and interrogating enemy airmen forced to land.
There is also a copy of The Battle of Britain August – October 1940, a 35-page, well-illustrated booklet published by the Ministry of Information and The Times Review of the War – 1944, an eight-page supplement with the 2 January 1945 edition. (Lot 1449)
Barbara was the daughter of John Littleton Symons, listed on the certificate as a Merchant and was born in Bandora, India on 1 November 1893, coincidentally the same date, as Conrad, thirteen years later. She was a trained nurse working with the British Army in India and it is believed was transferred to the Western Front in 1916-17. Viner met her while he was recovering for the effects of a gas attack.
There are several examples of Viner’s correspondence with Barbara that confirms their pet name for him was Bill. One of the most significant is a notation on one of two WWI German field maps that he ‘captured’ and sent to Barbara stating, “Our march to Germany is marked in pencil on the two maps which are German maps,” and signed “yours Bill.” After the Armistice, Viner served with the British Army Occupation Force until about March 1919, indicated by several PCs he sent his wife, also signed ‘B’ and ‘Bill’ (Lot 1453).
Barbara’s uncle was Major General Sir William Penn-Symons KCB (1843-1899). He had an impressive military record but died from wounds during the Battle of Talana Hill (also known as the Battle of Dundee), in Northern Natal on 20 October 1899.
It is known that Conrad and Barbara had two daughters, Vivien and Noel Christobel, Noel was named after father’s brother, George Noel [Rex], killed in World War I. Burkes lists her as Mrs. Noel Christabel Vincent Viner. She was married 21 December 1964 to Alister, 4th Baron Strathedon and Campbell, CBE. This was his second marriage and she was the former wife of George Vincent. She became Noel, Baroness Strathedon and Campbell. Alister died on 12 December 1981 and was succeeded by his brother, Gavin.
Noel Christobel was born 10 December 1918 and passed away on 14 April 2008. Her funeral was held 18 April at Woodvale Crematorium [South Chapel] Brighton.
From an early age Viner was involved with entertaining. This is confirmed by the earliest document, a hand printed three-page programme of a concert at Endymion Hall dated December 18th 1888. He is listed as Master Conrad Viner performing Solo Selections. There is also a Miss Viner, [his sister?] performing a solo entitled Rondo. Condition is excellent and affixed to a page. The page also has two sepia photographs, one of two young ladies [his sister and a friend?] wearing period bathing costumes, standing in water near the shore. The other depicts four adults in their Sunday best in a canoe. The final item is a facsimile bank cheque drawn on the ‘Blissville, Bank of Blessings, Unlimited -Incorporated with the Bank of Love’ for ‘Ten Thousand Joys’. ‘Lettie’ has signed and made it payable to ‘C. Viner’ for ‘this Xmas’ and dated it ’25 – 1912.’ It has a facsimile of the red oval excise tax stamp normally embossed on real British cheques with the text, ‘Best Wishes’, two hands and a floral design. It has tears and is stained but an interesting Bank-related item.
There are two other three-page programmes printed by an early form of the mimeograph process from hand printed originals. While undated they appear to be circa 1880s. Viner is not listed as performing as an individual but may be in some of the groups who were involved with the Flagstaff CMR Dramatic Club. Condition of the programmes is very good, they are affixed to a period page.
A United States Mail Steamer line ship, the St. Louis – Program of Entertainment – dated November 18, 1915 has ‘Mr. Viner’ listed as performing a solo of selected tunes. It is believed this is the ship he returned to England from Canada aboard to take part in WWI. (Lot 1456)
Viner’s interest in amateur dramatics continued until at least 1936 confirmed by a three-page programme for Four Plays In Aid of the Charing Tennis Club. Viner played parts in two of the plays held on 28th and 29th of April 1936. There is a newspaper photograph of the Charing Amateurs, including Viner, who played Captain Jennings, in a scene from one of the plays, Shall We Join the Ladies. (Lot 1457)