Issue Date: 21/06/2016
Issue Name: Great War 2016 Centenary Stamps from the Miniature Sheet
Producer: Buckingham Covers
The Royal Mail miniature sheet for the 2016 Great War issue focuses on the Post Office's services during World War 1. In the same year as Royal Mail celebrate 500 years they wanted to use 2016's Great War Centenary as an oppportunity to highlight the importance of the postal services during the conflict. Our first day cover shows a small part of the postal service in action during the First World War and includes a lovely London EC1 wreath design postmark.
Stamps taken from the Miniature Sheet
1st Class - The Post Office Rifles
The Post Office Rifles originated in the 1860s as a volunteer rifle corps. By the outbreak of the First World War, the regiment was organised as 8th Battalion, London Regiment. Two more battalions were raised during the war and 12,000 men served in them. 1,800 of them were killed and 4,500 wounded.
The Rifles took part in many battle, including Loos and the Somme, its members received 145 gallantry awards, including the Victoria Cross for Sergeant Albert Knight, a pre-war postal clerk from birmingham who was decorated for his bravery.
£1.33 - Delivering the Mail on the Home Front
Whether delivering call-up letter that conscripted men into military service, carrying vital correspondence that organised war production or distributing ration books, the postal service constituted an essential part of Britain's war effort. During the war, the POst Office released 75,000 men for military service and took on thousands of temporary staff, many of them women, in their place. The war took its toll and many areas saw reduced deliveries and the governmant's needs to raise revenue meant the end of the famous Penny POst rate in June 1918.
£1.33 - Home Depot at Regent's Park, London
A reliable postal service was vital to keeping up the moral of Britain's soldiers and sailors. In December 1914, to handle the volume of military mail, the General Post office built a vast sorting office in Regent's Park, London. Covering five acres and emplying 2,500 staff, most of which were female, the Home Depot received and dispatched staggering quantities of material. During 1917, 19,000 mail bags were crossing the English Channel every day, with half a million making the journey in the run-up to Christmas. At its peak, the Home Depot was handling up to 12 million letters and a million parcels every week.
1st Class - Writing a Letter from the Western Front
With only rare opportunities for home leave, letters were an essential link between servicemen and their loed ones at home, Higher standards of literacy, compared to previou generations, meant that most soldiers could read and write. Often written in pencil, on whatever paper could be found, letters gave soldiers an opportunity to imagine themselves in conversation with loved ones back home. Around two billion letters went to and from servicemen during the war. A ecntury later, those letter surviving in archives, libraries and private collections provide fascinating insights into individuals' experiences of the war.
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Tony Jordan is a British television writer who wrote the TV drama 'The Passing Bells', a five part drama broadcast on BBC1 in 2014. The series is set during World War I and shows events through the eyes of two very ordinary teenagers, one from England and one from Germany, who enlist in the war, which they expect will be over within months.