|BCSHEET22S||End of World War I stamp sheet - Lest We Forget, signed by Group Captain Bill Randle||£60.00||Sold Out|
Issue Date: 10/11/2008
Issue Name: Lest We Forget Stamp Sheet
Producer: Buckingham Covers
Final Stamp Sheet of 2008. This stamp sheet features Royal Mail's poppy stamp and labels featuring planes from World War I. This sheet coincides with the RAF's 90th Anniversary, which is why it follows the aircraft theme. This is a limited edition of 1918.
A limited number have been personally signed by hero of World War Two, Group Captain Bill Randle DSM. People often ask Bill about his escape from Northern France, "Did you walk all the way?" "Good God, no," replies Bill, "I only walked to Lyon, I was then helped by the resistance to the Pyrenees and then I walked to Spain." Quite, but think how long it takes to get to Lyon on the motorway, then imagine a teenager walking 400 miles through German occupied France, escaping through the Comet Line!
That sums up this extremely modest man. He won his medal for bravery as a staff sergeant, which is why he is a DSM, the award for the men. Once he was promoted to an officer, he was invited to upgrade to a DSC, the award for officers. He declined. A famous name also in the cover world, Bill's RAF covers are legendary. He has raised over £6 million for service charities through his own cover series. If you are interested in collecting these, we can't recommend them highly enough. Give us a call on 01303 278 137 to find out more. Bill was also the keeper of the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon and is the author of many books, including his autobiography, Blue Skies Dark Nights and a trilogy set in the First World War, making his signature on this sheet especially relevent.
What are stamp sheets?
A stamp sheet is around A4 size and contains 10 first class stamps (the Poppy stamps in this stamp sheet being an example) contained in a special design. The stamps are valid for postage, but you don't want to be ripping this up! Most people collect sheets in an album although some of them frame them for the wall.
Want to keep your sheets safe? Click here to see our stamp sheet albums
Total number of sheets printed: 1918
Bill Randle made his first flight as a passenger in an Avro 504k of Alan Cobham's Flying Circus from a field on Woodbury Common in Devon. That trip confirmed in him an already held ambition to become a pilot. Like thousands of others, the Second World War provided Bill with an opportunity, and 1941 he gained his wings as one of the first graduates from the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma under a training programme known as the Arnold Scheme. On his return to England with a total of 145 hours and 33 minutes flying time, all on single-engined trainers, he was surprised to learn that he had been posted to 12 Operational Training Unit (out) at Chipping Warden, to become a bomber pilot.
By May 1942, Bill was a sergeant pilot with No 150 Squadron, Bomber Command, based at Snaith in Yorkshire, and had already established something of a reputation as a survivor and escaper, having walked away from no fewer than 3 crashes in Vickers Wellingtons, the last of which began with a propeller falling off over East Anglia and ended with a devastating wheels-up landing, in dense fog, on the village green at Dittington, near Peterborough, with the 'Wimpy' careering through a small barn and a house before exploding. “My log book records the only casualties as one cow, about 15 chickens and one very frightened lady, who awoke in bed after we smashed through her kitchen, bringing her down from the bedroom above,” recalls Bill. In the course of his career Bill was eventually to survive no fewer than 8 Wellington crashes, for which his colleagues jokingly awarded him an 'Iron Cross, Second Class' in the hope that “this officer will thus be encouraged to strive even harder in the cause of our beloved Luftwaffe”!
Together with his crew of 2 Canadians, a Scotsman and a seventeen year-old Cockney gunner, Bill Randle flew regularly over Nazi Germany, until on 16 September 1942, his Wellington III BJ877 Z-Zebra was hit by a solitary anti-aircraft shell at 23,000 feet over Zwolle, on the Dutch coast, while en route to Essen on his 27th operation of the war. Unaware that his aircraft was badly damaged, he flew into the Ruhr, where he dropped his 4,000lb blockbuster on the target and stayed with the bomber stream, only to be hit again while turning over Aachen. After about 20 minutes, Bill began to lose control and with the Wellington flying a large erratic circle even closer to the Ruhr barrage, Bill and his crew bailed out at 16,000 feet. All landed safely in Belgian countryside, though Bill sustained minor eye and hand injuries while bailing out. Like all Bomber Command aircrew they had been well briefed in escape and evasion tactics (Bill had not one, but two escape kits on him!) and were well aware of the wonderful help available to Allied aircrew from Resistance workers in Europe.