Royal Mail will issue a landmark series of Special Stamps each year from 2014 to 2018 to commemorate the Great War. The set will feature 30 stamps, with six being produced each year. The first set of stamps was issued in July this year. The public can register their interest in the stamps by visiting www.royalmail.com/firstworldwar
- The stamp range will provide a wide-ranging and inclusive commemoration. Themes that will be covered during the five years include:
- How artists, including writers and painters, interpreted the events
- The role of non-combatants and civilians
- The role of the Services
- The role of women
- The contribution of the Commonwealth
- Alongside the stamps programme, Royal Mail has published a searchable database of the memorials in its care www.royalmailmemorials.com. Royal Mail is also custodian of around 250 war memorials commemorating those who gave their lives. More than 75,000 men from the General Post Office (GPO) fought in the Great War, including 12,000 men who fought with its own regiment, the Post Office Rifles
The stamp series has been designed to be as wide-ranging and inclusive as possible. It will feature a collection of subjects including the contribution of the armed services, the role of the Commonwealth Countries and non-combatants and women.
The stories of the War will be told through imagery including historic Memorials, artefacts that have become synonymous with the conflict, portraits of some of the participants, art showing some of the famous and moving scenes of the conflict, and newly-commissioned artworks of poppies – the symbol of Remembrance – from leading artists such as Fiona Strickland.
The 2014 set features the following:
Poppy- Original artwork by Fiona Strickland, the Scottish born and Edinburgh based leading botanical artist. She is a member of the Royal Society of Botanical Artists and considered among the leading contemporary botanical artists.
War Poetry– Lines from the poem, ‘For the Fallen’ by Lawrence Binyon. First published in The Times on 21 September 1914, ‘For the Fallen’ is the poet’s response to the first few weeks of the War. It is familiar through its recitation at Remembrance ceremonies in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Binyon volunteered for hospital work in France during the War. Royal Mail commissioned a letter-cutter to engrave a section of the poem into stone. This was then photographed and the image used on the stamp.
War Art- ‘A Star Shell’’ by CRW Nevinson. The image is of a flare that illuminated no man’s land. Nevinson is widely regarded as one of the most important artists of the Great War, with paintings in the collection of Tate Britain and Imperial War Museums. The artwork is on display at Tate Britain.
Portrait- Private William Tickle, who enlisted on 7 September 1914, and served in the 9th Battallion, Essex Regiment. He was accepted despite being under age (15 on enlisting). He served until he was killed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. This is one of thousands of photographs donated to the Imperial War Museum shortly after the war’s end in response to pleas to send images of those who had died.
Memorial – ‘The Response’, a bronze memorial by Welsh artist Sir William Goscombe John, represents the raising of several companies of the Northumberland Fusiliers and depicts the men joining up in 1914. The memorial is located in a public park in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
Artefact– Princess Mary Gift Box. In October 1914, the Christmas Gift Fund was launched by Princess Mary, the 17-year-old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The purpose was to provide everyone wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914 with a ‘gift from the nation’. The result was the production of an embossed brass box, which contained a Christmas card and a picture of the Princess along with gifts. Servicemen at the front or at sea who were smokers received a pipe, an ounce of tobacco, cigarettes and a tinder lighter. Non-smokers received a packet of sweets and a writing case with pencil, paper and envelopes.
Royal Mail is an official First World War Centenary Partner with the Imperial War Museum.