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Europe/Great Britain : 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

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Guthrum
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16 Mar 2016
09:29:05am
Yes, good old Royal Mail! The 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two was commemorated in 2005 by many stamp-issuing entities: Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg the year before (when they were liberated), Guernsey, Slovenia, Russia, Belarus (again), the Isle of Man, Russia (again), Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Armenia, Ukraine (again), Gibraltar, Belgium, Moldova, Guernsey (again), Jersey, and that's just 'European' places - west of the Caspian - on or before May 9th.

Great Britain? Nah. We made some small contribution to that conflict, true, but typically we don't go about trumpeting the fact on postage stamps - we leave that to our offshore islands. VE Day went by without so much as a whisper from Royal Mail.

Perhaps someone mentioned the fact. Perhaps questions were asked. Whatever the case, what should happen a couple of months later but that Royal Mail issued a miniature sheet, baldly labelled 'End of the War'. Not that they could be bothered to commission a design - far too much trouble. No, they cobbled up an old issue from 1995 and surrounded it with everyday Machins. So hugely unimpressive that the fellows at Stampworld don't even bother to list it in their catalogue. Nor do the chaps at Colnect.

5th July - that was the date of issue. What happened sixty years earlier on 5th July? Why, the Liberation of the Philippines (it says on Wikipedia)! Not a passage of arms best known for British involvement, true. Maybe Royal Mail were not after all thinking of their American, Mexican and Filipino cousins who actually did the liberating.

Maybe they just issued this shabbily-concocted minisheet on any old date because they forgot that some Britons still held VE Day and VJ Day in some regard. That Royal Mail, eh? They've never let us down!

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Re-used stamp, re-used background photo, 5 Machins. Classy.

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
16 Mar 2016
09:33:11am
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

and only the soldiers are obscured

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youpiao
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16 Mar 2016
01:52:13pm
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

Wow. Just . . . wow.

T
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Winedrinker
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19 Mar 2016
07:30:10pm
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

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Yes, as Chris West points out in his fine book, A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps, it was a full year after VE day before a stamp was printed: the 2 1/2d and 3d of 1946. "They came out to commemorate the first anniversary of VE day rather than hot on the heels of victory itself, and their emphasis was on reconstruction rather than celebration, portraying themes of agriculture, housing, industry and trade."

Restraint to a fault. And no mention of soldiers.

Good book by the way. Cheers.
Eric

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Guthrum
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20 Mar 2016
07:05:50am
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

Quote:

" They came out to commemorate the first anniversary of VE day..."


Well, not quite. The stamps were issued on the Tuesday after the London Victory Parade, staged on Saturday 8th June, a date so universally well-known among men of all nations that it was considered quite unnecessary to explain it when it featured on the Omnibus Commonwealth issue.

Thus Britain commemorated the war four weeks after the first anniversary of VE Day, and managed to get the stamps out three days after that. Well done.

Below: Just some of the nations who may not have been able to make it up to London that Saturday.

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Winedrinker
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20 Mar 2016
08:33:23am
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

Enjoyed your post Guthrum, good info. Perhaps the too long delay for a victory stamp was on account of post-war depleted finances -- but even so.





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Guthrum
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20 Mar 2016
04:50:10pm
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

My guess is that they were banking on better weather in June than in May.

A year earlier, on May 29th 1945, a question had been raised in the House. The Postmaster-General (Harry Crookshank, Con.) was asked if he would be issuing a Victory stamp to celebrate the unconditional surrender of Germany.

He replied: The Post Office has introduced a special Victory stamp cancelling die in honour of the victory in Europe, and I do not propose to do anything more at the present juncture.

This was of course the 'Victory bells' cancellation, illustrated below.

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You can read almost anything into such a curt reply: it seems to have been the standard British approach to postage stamps until at least the era of Tony Benn. At another wild guess, I'd suggest that the furore over the vastly unpopular £1 PUC stamp of 1929 may still have been on Postmasters' minds sixteen years later.

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Winedrinker
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20 Mar 2016
05:26:42pm
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

Oh I do love the Victory Bell cancellation. Wonderful! (insert irony here) I actually do like it, but it should have been more --- like a stamp.

As an American who has traveled to Britain on business trips I am well aware of a certain English curtness. The look a woman gave me at customs when I was fumbling for my paperwork - withering with a tired disdain, as if she were dealing with an idiot monkey. And the look I got from a man at a toll road in Scotland when I rolled up to his toll booth to pay my toll, and couldn't find the button in my Vauxhall to roll down the window. I was gesturing with mild panic as if to say "just give me a second, I am sure I'll find the button in a second." (Damn European car with buttons in all the wrong places.) Again, the look of sadness and exhaustion on his face.

That said, some of the finest people I have ever met are British and Scottish. So I'm not picking on anyone.

Thanks again for the vastly entertaining response.
Eric

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Winedrinker
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20 Mar 2016
11:56:48pm
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

Ok Guthrum, you inspired me to drop a few bucks on eBay for several Victory Bell cancellation covers. And I don't even collect covers. Well, I guess I do now.

Eric

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Guthrum
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21 Mar 2016
07:22:42am
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

Our reluctance to commemorate this conflict in stamp issues necessitates the inclusion of non-stamp (but postally-related) items in the collection!

In 1995, as if to atone for the lamentably poor pair of stamps released to mark the 50th Anniversary of the end of the war, Royal Mail released four booklets of Machins. The attitude seemed not dissimilar to PMG Crookshank's rejection of the very idea fifty years earlier: we don't do stamps in this country, but we might go as far as a cancel, or a booklet.

Actually, the booklet designs were imaginative, and the subjects thoughtfully chosen. The message: we can do it if we want to. We just don't want to.

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Winedrinker
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21 Mar 2016
08:15:49am
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

Those booklet designs are amazing. Heroic spies, and Spitfires. Thank you for sharing.

And of course the famous story of the British Post Office "borrowing" the design for the 1936 King Edward VIII stamps from 17-year old Hubert Brown, who had submitted his renditions earlier, and that looked a WHOLE lot like the stamps issued. The Post Office said that they designed the stamps. Years later, when Hubert was an old man, the Post Office went to his house and apologized.

The wheels of justice grinding quite slow in this case.

Cheers!
Eric

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Anglophile
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RPSL, APS, EPA; US, GB, Ireland, British Europe, Italy, Mauritius Classics
21 Mar 2016
12:59:22pm
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

I have two explanations for the 2005 issue.

1. Gloating over past military victories has become untenable since the Gulf War. All war now is viewed as a political failing of the aggressor, regardless of the objective evil perpetrated by the defender, to be approached weakly and with embarrassment rather than confidently prosecuted for the purpose of dispatching an enemy of civilized society. In post-Blair Britain, we simply don't trumpet our military triumphs, regardless of how essential they were to a past generation.

2. All Royal Mail issues now are driven by modern marketing analysis, and a case could not be made for greater investment in this issue based on anticipated sales.

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Guthrum
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21 Mar 2016
05:31:59pm
re: 2005: GB commemorates the end of WW2 in typical fashion

Chris, it's quite possible, or even likely, that your second point (sales) has some influence on the choice of stamp issues - but what we desperately need, as I have many times said, is some tangible evidence of this: what guidelines are issued to the selection committees, how they vary, or even what has been revealed in interviews, etc.

As to your first point, I'm afraid I find it unconvincing; I have already posted some of the reasons on this thread. The history of British stamp issuing since 1945 has served to underline the fact that the war must hardly ever be mentioned on stamps, and when it is, only in the blandest terms. There have been exceptions, such as the 1965 Battle of Britain issue, but even that caused a certain amount of debate when it came out (chaps didn't like German aircraft markings on British stamps, what!). We have, of course, never trumpeted military triumphs - that is not the British way. But it need not have absolved us from marking the war in other ways. The fact that Sir Nicholas Winton has been recognised on a stamp had as much to do with his great age at the time of his death as his pre-war deeds. I doubt Royal Mail committees had ever heard of him. I doubt, as a further example, that they have ever heard of Frank Foley.

It's not a recent phenomenon; we have had stamps remembering Dunkirk and the Battle of the Atlantic in the past couple of years. I applaud the recent appearances of Odette Hallowes and Noor Inayat Khan, and references (though no portrait) to Alan Turing. But these stamps have all had the same, grey photographic look, they display no imagination or interpretation in design, and I do not think we will see too many more of them in the future.




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