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(prior to closure in october 2017)


Pensions matters

OSPA’s original objects concerned the protection of the pensions of Colonial Service/HMOCS officers and their families.  In response to OSPA’s representations successive British Governments enacted legislation and made administrative arrangements to safeguard the pensions, chiefly through creating the Supplementary Pension for Overseas Service (SPOS) which most eligible pensioners now receive. OSPA continued to speak upon these matters whenever necessary.  Please see 'Pensions Issues' from dropdown menu.

Understanding the Colonial Service

OSPA's main interest in recent years was to spread a better understanding of what the Colonial Service/HMOCS was, who its members were, what they did in the former colonial territories, why and how they did it, and to what effect.  More generally, what was their life like?  The same applies to the other overseas territories which were not administered by the Colonial Service/HMOCS.  We believed that this information ought to be available on public record, in libraries, archives and world-wide on the web, so that people today and in years to come may know of and have access to our first-hand evidence of what went on during the colonial phase of the 20th century, especially after 1945.

Activities and Functions


  • Served as the focal point for HMOCS (and other) officers and widows who belonged to an organised body of colleagues having unique shared experiences and background, understanding the special nature of service in the colonial territories, and capable of representing their common interests and expressing their views when necessary.
  • Acted as a guardian, as far as resources permit, of the good name and reputation of HMOCS and its antecedents.
  • Promoted wider knowledge of all aspects of Colonial Service life and times, through publications, seminars and contacts with academic institutions, libraries, museums etc.

  • Served as an enquiry point about the Colonial Service, with members willing to respond to requests for information or comment.

  • Published the Overseas Pensioner, the biannual journal issued free to members, covering general Colonial Service topics, with memoirs, articles, book reviews, letters, pensions news, social reunions and meetings, obituary notices.

  • Provided (to members only) address lists of OSPA members by service territory, UK town or county of residence or country of residence overseas.  

  • Recorded details of other territorial and functional groups, societies, reunion clubs etc., which welcomed Overseas Service members.


  • Liaised with the Overseas Pensions Department of the Department for International Development (DFID), and with the Crown Agents Bank (Pension Services), which between them authorise or pay the pensions to almost all members.  As the recognised body representing the pensioners, OSPA was ready to help in case of change or difficulty relating to either of these paying agencies.
  • Had membership of the Public Service Pensioners’ Council (PSPC), covering about 30 pensioners’ associations representing some 2 million pensioners.  The Council sought to protect the interests of British Public Service pensioners generally (see the PSPC website via the links page for further details of its activities).  
  • Supported the efforts by the International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP) to end the British Government's policy of denying annual increases to the UK State Retirement Pension for people (including Overseas Service pensioners) who have chosen to live in certain countries overseas like Australia and South Africa.  The British All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions has also been engaged with this problem.
  • Negotiated with HMG on current pensions issues, such as those relating to Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, and the former Central African Federation, which have their own different pension arrangements.
  • Gave advice and assistance to members about many matters relating to pensions and associated retirement problems including the British State Retirement Pension and back-payment of National Insurance contributions out of time, Colonial Widows’ and Orphans Pensions, “Over 80” pension for UK residents, UK Income Tax, entitlement to Foreign Pensions Allowance.


  • Arranged social gatherings of members at an annual Reunion in London and smaller groups in some other areas, while also encouraging territorial and professional groups to maintain their own meetings and other get-togethers.