Wednesday 5 August 2015

Royal Mail marches out another Commemorative Sheet for World War 1

As reported earlier a Commemorative sheet marking 200 years of Service by the Gurkhas will be issued on 20 August.  A month later, a further World War 1 commemorative sheet will be issued to coincide with Autumn Stampex, featuring Animals of the First World War.

This is a further sheet in Royal Mails series to commemorate the Centenary of WWI. It will be on sale from 17 September and is priced at £14.95.

Since ancient times, animals have proved themselves indispensable to the human race in times of war. In particular, horses – clad in armour bearing kings and emperors, military leaders and soldiers – have become the embodiment and symbol of warfare, able to adapt to changing conditions and be trained to out-manoeuvre new weapons and combat techniques.

Similarly, many other animals, such as dogs, mules, donkeys, carrier pigeons, camels, elephants, goats and birds, have played an essential role in transportation, communications, surveillance and gas detection, as well as in the boosting of morale. And never was this more true than during the First World War.

The self-adhesive sheet has 10 x 1st class Union Flag stamps each with a black and white label attached.

Column 1
Carrier pigeons played a key role in the war effort.  With a message cylinder strapped to its leg, a pigeon is about to be released from lofts in Sorrus, France, in June 1918.

Still wet from a swim across a canal, a dog delivers a message to a dog handler of the Royal Engineers Signal Service based near Nieppe Wood, France, in May 1918.

Pictured carrying injured soldiers to safety in India in 1917, camels also conveyed supplies, as well as being employed in a combat role by the Imperial Camel Corps.

Billy the dog was hospital pet at the St John Ambulance Brigade Hospital at Étaples, France. He is pictured with nurses awaiting a visit from Queen Mary in July 1917.

Animal mascots came in a variety of different species. The fox-cub mascot of No. 32 Squadron keeps a pilot company at Humières airfield, France, in 1918.

Column 2
Early in the war, cavalry was often used to protect the infantry from attack. The column of horsemen of the British Expeditionary Force arrives in Belgium before the Battle of Mons in August 1914.

Animal mascots helped to boost morale during wartime. A Lewis gunner plays with his regiment’s cat mascot in a trench near Cambrin, France, in February 1918.

To help protect their horses against the effects of poison gas, Royal Field Artillery gunners train them in gasmask drill near Mont-Saint Éloi, France, in May 1918.

On the home front, Jim was an Airedale terrier trained for coastguard duties. He gave warning of the approach of the first Zeppelin to raid the Kent coast in 1915.

Mules had to endure difficult conditions in the First World War. At the Battle of Pilckem Ridge in August 1917, the hardy animals transported shells through the mud.

UPDATE 26 August 2015.
Two special postmarks have been announced to coincide with the issue of this sheet.  
Ref 13564 can be obtained from the London Special Handstamp Centre.
Ref 13575 can be obtained from the Wales & West Special Handstamp Centre, Cardiff.

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