Royal Mail today presents the final set of Special Stamps in a five-part commemorative programme marking each centenary of the First World War.
Each year of the war has been explored though stamps covering six key themes: Poppy, Poetry, Portrait, Art, Memorials and Artefacts.
The stamps form a beautiful and poignant collection which fittingly commemorates this world-changing conflict.
The imagery on the stamps features historic memorials and artefacts that have become synonymous with the conflict, portraits of some of the participants, art showing some now famous and moving scenes, poems composed during the war and newly-commissioned artworks of poppies – the symbol of Remembrance.
Walter Tull’s great nieces and nephews commented: “We are honoured that this Royal Mail stamp is commemorating our great uncle Walter Tull, who died tragically 100 years ago during the First World War.
“While it is a time, for us as a family, to remember respectfully the death of our great uncle in such a terrible war, like so many others, we are also proud of his accomplishments.
“Walter’s life and achievements have been acknowledged and celebrated in a variety of ways for over 20 years. Many of these activities and projects concern challenging and overcoming inequality and discrimination.
“While this year of centenary may provide a particular spotlight on Walter's story and life, we hope that Walter’s example will continue to encourage and promote projects that support inclusion and equality.”
Philip Parker, Royal Mail, said: The First World War series has been one of our most ambitious stamp projects. Every year stamps have been issued to mark centenaries of the War, and the resulting 30-stamp tapestry is a moving tribute to those who served and participated.”
The stamps and commemorative products can be pre-ordered now from www.royalmail.com/firstworldwar and are available on general sale from 7,000 Post Offices nationwide from 13 September 2018.
100 POPPIES, ZAFER AND BARBARA BARAN
The poppy has been one of the enduring symbols of the First World War and has come to be associated with remembrance. To mark the centenary of the end of the war, Zafer and Barbara Baran photographed one hundred poppy flowers, layering the images together to create 100 Poppies. Each of the poppies was freshly cut and carefully lit before being photographed, to capture the flower’s delicate luminosity. In the final artwork, the light gently filters through the overlapping petals, giving this composite image a ghostly, fleeting appearance and suggesting movement.
‘ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH’, WILFRED OWEN
In ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, British Army officer and poet Wilfred Owen mourns the waste of young lives, cut short by wailing shells and the rattle of rifle fire. Killed in action in 1918, a week before the armistice, Owen has become one of Britain’s most celebrated war poets. In this woodblock print, illustrator Andrew Davidson has hand-carved the opening lines of Owen’s poem. Using an illuminated letter style that evokes the shattered tree-scapes of war artist Paul Nash, the design reflects the rawness and power of Owen’s words.
SECOND LIEUTENANT WALTER TULL
Second Lieutenant Walter Tull was born in Folkestone in 1888 and orphaned after the death of his English mother and his Barbadian father. He became known as a professional footballer. After war broke out, he served in the Footballers’ Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and fought on the Somme. Commissioned in May 1917, Tull became the first mixed-race Army officer to command troops in a regular unit. After fighting in Italy, he returned to the Western Front. On 25 March 1918, he was killed in action. Having no known grave, Tull is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
WE ARE MAKING A NEW WORLD, PAUL NASH
In 1914, Paul Nash enlisted as a private in the Artists’ Rifles and was later commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment. Invalided home in May 1917 following an accident, he returned to the front in November 1917 as an official artist. He was appalled by the sight of the Ypres Salient. In We Are Making A New World – titled with bitter irony – Nash depicts a bleak and hopeless sunrise over a copse of shattered trees. The ground is pitted with waterlogged shell holes. Nash was deeply moved by the destruction of trees, seeing in their degradation a metaphor for human suffering.
THE GRAVE OF THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR, WESTMINSTER ABBEY, LONDON
On Armistice Day, 11 November 1920, an Unknown Warrior was buried at Westminster Abbey, after being chosen at random from several unidentifiable sets of remains and solemnly conveyed from France. Enormous crowds gathered in silence to witness the procession through London, and King George V unveiled the Cenotaph at Whitehall before following behind the coffin to the Abbey. For a nation reeling from the enormous loss of life, the burial of the Unknown Warrior provided a focal point for grief.
LIEUTENANT FRANCIS HOPGOOD’S GOGGLES
Lieutenant Francis Hopgood joined the Royal Flying Corps in March 1918, transferring from the Artists’ Rifles. On 10 April – a few days after the Royal Flying Corps had been incorporated into the new Royal Air Force – Hopgood was shot down. Crash-landing behind German lines, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war. Clear sight was vital to a pilot’s ability to survive aerial combat. Hopgood’s goggles are fitted with custom prescription lenses in Triplex safety glass, which survived his crash-landing without breaking into pieces.