Friday, 1 April 2016

Philatelic Friday 1: WWI Centenary Gibraltar Part 1

I've decided to start a new series on this blog which will delve into my stamp collection on a weekly basis. And to start it all off I'm looking into the part of my collection that has really grabbed by attention recently and which is going to grow over the next few years as various nations and stamp issuing territories honour their part in World War I.

The decision of course is which location to kick off. I decided that this set from Gibraltar is a good place to kick off.

Designed by Westminster collection this set of 6 stamps was issued on 19th February 2014. The stamps are all 42.58mm x 28.45mm and while largely using black and white photography are printing in four colours (mainly to account for the poppy)

The 12p stamp in the famous Lord Kitchener "Your Country Needs You" recruitment poster. Of course the fact that Kitchener was killed of West Coast of the Orkney Islands on board HMS Hampshire may have some draw as to why I chose this first stamp in the collection to focus on with my political connections to both locations coming in the year before the celebration of WWI started.

The 40p stamp shows a scene that was repeated around the Empire of Army and Navy recruitment stations where young men flocked to sign up for the "great adventure" fully expecting to be home by Christmas. The soldier with the record player is probably either playing speeches from the leaders or patriotic music.

On the 50p stamp we see a scene of one young man fully kitted up saying goodbye to his family. This was a scene that was witnessed all across the land. From researching my own family history and especially with the friends brigades it would often be a scene that would be repeated up and down the streets in the same area at many doors as all the young men headed to the same camp in the same location at the same time. It is highly likely that my Grandfather's cousin James McGonigle Glenn who in 1911 was on the Census Barracked in Aldershot would be one of the first from the Fountain area of Londonderry to have had a weekends leave before heading to the front, long before the new recruits followed behind.

The 64p stamp shows the Quartermaster measuring up the new recruits so that they could look as smart as the professional soldiers who had years of training and preparation before them. All of them of course would soon enough be undistinguishable from each other side by side in the trenches.

On the 68p stamp we see the few short weeks of training that these new recruits were to receive at home before being dispatched to the front line. It was enough to learn discipline, use of weapons and basic tactics.

Finally on the £1 stamp we see smiling faces as the men are finally on their way. Heading by train to a coastal port from where they will sail to continental Europe and the front.

Off course these stamps appear on a first day cover which shows the cancellation that the Gibraltar Post Office is using for their WWI Centenary collection. At the centre is a poppy surrounded by the words "Centenary of World War I 1914-1918". On the left of the cover is an image of the men in the trenches, with the mud and the smiles no longer visible. Below is a red band which features a coloured version of the poppy used on the cancellation.

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