Contact the BFPO Enquiries Team
As far back as 1799 a need for a Postal Service for troops in the field was considered to be essential. It was not, however, until 1808 during the Peninsular War that the First Army Post Office was put into operation. In 1840 another Army Post Office was put into operation during the first Chinese War. On the 22 Jul 1882 Queen Victoria authorised the formation of the Post Office Corps which was formed from the 24th Battalion Middlesex Volunteers for service in the Egyptian and Sudanese campaigns. The Post Office Corps was then followed by a second Army Postal Corps called The Royal Engineers Telegraph Reserve. In 1889 both Reserve Corps were reorganised into 2 supplementary companies to give an efficient Postal and Telegraph Service during the South African War. Nineteen Hundred and Eight saw a further reorganisation of the 2 reserve companies when they amalgamated into the Royal Engineers (Postal Section) - RE (PS).
The RE (PS) served during the First World War in France, Belgium, the Dardanelles, Egypt, Palestine, East Africa, Greece, Italy and North Russia. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of RE (PS) personnel was unlimited. As well as by conventional means mail was transported by mule, sleigh, trawler, mine-sweeper in fact any form of transport available at the time.
The Home Postal Depot was formed in London in 1914 to fulfil 2 functions. Firstly it served as a central sorting and distribution point for all Forces mails and, secondly, for the training of RE (PS) personnel.
During 1918 experiments were carried out using modified aircraft for transporting troops mail by air. Tests proved successful and the first regular airmail service from Folkestone to Cologne was set up in Mar 1919 to provide British troops in Germany with a fast mail service. This was the world’s first scheduled airmail service. Due to the success of the Army airmail service the system was adopted by civil Post Offices worldwide.
From 1918 until 1929 a nucleus of the RE (PS) remained in the Army of the Rhine until it was withdrawn in 1929, whilst a detachment also operated in North Russia during the period 1918-1919.
The Second World War saw the RE (PS) serving on all fronts worldwide and detached with forward troops. During that war it was held by a famous Commander, that his troops could march 3 or 4 days without food on the strength of one letter.
RE (PS) personnel landed with the 6th Airborne Division by parachute and glider during the opening of the second front, and postal personnel were amongst the sea assault troops with the 5th and 6th Beach Brigades.
Field Post Offices were established on the beach-head within hours of arrival. 1950-
With the inclusion of British troops as part of the United Nations Forces in the Korean War in 1950, RE (PS) played its part in the support role of 2 British Brigades and with a line of communications Unit in Japan.
In the early 50s the formation of NATO, SHAPE, HQ ALFCE and HQ AFFCE saw the reintroduction of Postal units into France. The withdrawal of British troops from Egypt meant the transfer of the Middle East Command to Cyprus and the establishment of the units in Aden and Tripoli. It soon became apparent that the RE (PS) provided a higher standard of service than their civilian counterparts, with the consequent demand for BFPOs to serve in all overseas Commands. An experiment was tried in 1953 whereby the Army Postal Service undertook the responsibility for the transmission of classified mail in BAOR. Gradually the transmission of classified mails worldwide was transferred to the RE (PCS). Following the consolidation of the Service in the 50s the RE (PS), by now RE (Post and Courier Communications) RE (PCC), became organic to every field formation. 1960-
In 1962 the Home Postal Depot moved its location from Acton, to Inglis Barracks in Mill Hill, North West London, and accepted responsibility for Royal Naval Mails and HM Ships mail from the Civil Post Office. Thus the RE (PCC) became a British Forces tri Service Organisation, (having previously accepted responsibility for RAF mails), and an international military service with its units in NATO.
The UK Forces Courier Service was rationalised in 1974 and a Courier Wing was introduced within the Home PCC Depot RE. This Wing accepted the transmission of all classified document carriage within UK in addition of the existing worldwide service.
A further reorganisation took place in 1979 to form the Royal Engineers Post and Courier Services, RE (PCS), into 4 PC Regiments and the Depot at Mill Hill renamed the Postal and Courier Depot RE (PCD RE). In 1983 HM The Queen visited the Postal and Courier Depot as part of the Centenary celebrations of the Postal and Courier Service. The RE (PCS) also received the Freedom of the London Borough of Barnet on behalf of the Corps of Royal Engineers.
In Jul 1992 the BFPO was established as the first executive agency of the Ministry of Defence, under the title of the Defence Postal and Courier Services Agency (DPCSA), and was asked to provide a sharper business focus, whilst maintaining a consistent quality of service and value for money.
On the 1st Jul 1999, the Agency was re-launched as the British Forces Post Office, which formed part of the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO).
In 2007, the MoD restructuring saw the withdrawl of Agency status for most of its agencies and the DLO merged with the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA), to form the new Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation.
In November 2007, the BFPO relocated and took up residence in its’ brand new, state of the art headquarters at RAF Northolt, which is being developed as a core MoD site.
The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) provides mail and Post Office counter services to Forces personnel, their dependants and authorised civilians whilst serving outside Great Britain, and a secure service for protectively marked material for the MOD, other Government departments and Defence related Organisations in the United Kingdom (UK). A service for official mail is also provided through a network of Defence Mail Centres (DMCs) and Ministry of Defence locations within the UK via a comprehensive network overseas.
We recruit for a wide range of posts from Mail Sorters and Defence Couriers to Administrative Staff and Managers. As well as our Headquarters at RAF Northolt in North West London, we also recruit for our DMCs which are situated in Aldershot, Andover, Bath, Catterick, Central London, Colchester, Donnington, Glasgow, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Wyton.
We advertise vacancies in local job centres, the internet and the local and national press.
The Defence Courier Service (DCS) is a department of the BFPO. BFPO is based at RAF Northolt in NW London. DCS is split into three areas; the HQ, London Courier Terminal (located with the HQ) and Brize Norton Courier Terminal at RAF Brize Norton.
The role of DCS is to provide a secure, discreet and efficient means of carrying Tri Service, Defence Industry and Other Government Departments' classified material worldwide in peace and conflict, this is done through a combination of road and air service schedules. Customer satisfaction is very important to us and we can be contacted on the help lines shown below. Each year we distribute a customer survey. In addition, we are always keen to receive constructive feedback on our service from customers at any time during the year. Where practical, within the restrictions of the security rules we will endeavour to change our service to meet our customers needs.
We produce a Customer user guide to assist our customers who need to despatch or receive protectively marked material via our service. The detailed preparation of items are referenced in the Joint Service Publication (JSP) 440 and JSP 367. If you are one of our customers then there may be an opportunity for you to visit us and meet the team.
Should you have any difficulties in despatching or receiving protectively marked material, please do not hesitate to contact our team on Locall Tel: 08457 69 79 78.
Our Motto is "Swift and Secure"