March 20th, 2017

1917 as the darkest hour in history. Ten special stamps introduced by New Zealand Post


By 1917, soldiers and loved ones had begun to lose faith in the ongoing war. Those on the Western Front were living in cold, wet trenches, and those at home were doing what they could to keep the home fires burning. New Zealand would experience the deadliest day in its military history when 845 lives were lost at the Belgian town of Passchendaele.

To mark the events happened during the deadliest war New Zealand Post has introduced to collectors` attention ten special stamps that are highly recommended to our readers by Let`s appreciate the original design of each individual stamp!

Individual stamps:

$1.00 stampA mother mourns – Ellen Knight

Ellen Knight of Dannevirke, mother of ten, saw three of her boys killed during the First World War: Herbert, shot dead by a sniper at Gallipoli in 1915; George, killed at Passchendaele in 1917; and William Douglas, her eldest, felled by a shell in France in 1918.

$1.00stamp From Egypt to Jerusalem

Beginning with the Battle of Rafah in January and ending at the Battle of Jerusalem in December, 1917 saw New Zealand mounted soldiers help capture the Sinai Peninsula from Ottoman forces before pushing into Ottoman Syria.

$1.00stamp Sling Camp

George Knight would arrive at Sling Camp, Salisbury Plain, England in January 1917, one of around 4,000 troops at the camp at any given time. While training new recruits was its primary purpose, Sling also served as a recovery and reconditioning stop for soldiers returning to the front.

$2.20 stampThe Battle of Messines

Tasked with removing the Germans from Messines Ridge in Belgium to clear the way for the later assault on Passchendaele, New Zealand soldiers would initially achieve most objectives with minimal losses. German guns would recover, however, and as the New Zealanders were relieved on 9 June many would be killed on their way back from the front.

$2.70 stamp SS Port Kembla

A merchant ship carrying war supplies, the SS Port Kembla, was sunk by a German mine just 17 kilometres off Farewell Spit in September 1917. Reports suggested an engine room explosion was responsible, ensuring that New Zealanders were unaware of how close the war had come to their shores.

$1.00 stamp Technology of war

Tanks made their first failed appearance on the battlefield in September 1916, but by the time this tank was photographed during the Battle of Messines in 1917, refinements in design were beginning to have some impact. By the end of 1917 tanks were being deployed in great numbers.

$1.00 stamp Plastic surgery

During the war New Zealander Harold Gillies, pictured far right, would become a pioneer in facial reconstruction, successfully lobbying for the creation of a specialist facial plastic surgery hospital, The Queen's Hospital, which opened in Kent in 1917.

$1.00 stamp Passchendaele

The deadliest day in New Zealand's military history, 12 October 1917 saw 845 lives lost at the Belgian village of Passchendaele. Post-war the Tyne Cot Cemetery would memorialise these fallen troops close to where they perished, alongside other sites at Buttes, Polygon Wood and Messines.

$2.20 stamp Social change at home

The temperance movement, conscientious objection, mining unrest and shipping strikes all had their day during the First World War. Arguably none had a greater impact on the population at home than six o’clock closing, introduced by temperance supporters as a wartime measure to “retain productivity”.

$2.70 stamp A changing workforce

This photo shows the changing nature of New Zealand's clerical workforce during the late war years. Nearly 60,000 men had left for overseas by 1917, and the country looked to women to fill varied commercial and professional roles left empty, or to 'keep them warm' until the men returned.

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