06 June 2019
It was the biggest land, sea and air operation in the history of warfare and now, 75 years on, Royal Mail pays tribute to the men who took part in Operation Overlord – the military campaign that would become known to history as D-Day.
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Allied invasion of France on 6 June 1944. The top secret operation had been months in the planning and its success depended upon the bravery and co-operation of land, sea and air forces, working together with the element of surprise to deliver a devastating blow to the enemy.
For weeks, members of the public had watched as troops and military hardware were moved to the south of England. When the decisive move to invade would be made was known only to a select few. Working from their base at Southwick House in the quiet village of Southwick near Portsmouth, D-Day commanders planned what would turn out to be the biggest ever land, sea and air operation in the history of worldwide warfare.
The long road to victory
The build up to the campaign, its unfolding and operation are charted on the six special stamps, each of which features a D-Day archive photograph. We begin with the first of two first class values, this one showing the men of No. 4 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade being briefed by their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant R Dawson, just before embarking for Normandy. Although each division was briefed on its role in the operation, they were not necessarily aware of what other troops would be doing, because of the secret nature of the operation.
The second stamp is an action shot of HMS Warspite at sea with guns blazing. The warship was part of Bombardment Force ‘D’, shelling German gun batteries in support of the landings on Sword on D-Day. We move airborne for stamp three (£1.35) showing paratroopers of the British 6th Airborne Division synchronising their watches prior to take off at about 23:00 on 5 June 1944, ready for the coordinated action as dawn broke on 6 June.
On the second £1.35 value we see commandos of HQ 4th Special Service Brigade leaving their landing craft and wading ashore on Juno, where they would face rough seas and a determined defence. Finally, the £1.60 stamps show an American A-20 Havoc light bomber with D-Day ‘invasion stripes’ providing air support following the D-Day landings and troops from the East Yorkshire Regiment taking cover as an enemy shell explodes nearby on 19 July 1944 – representing the hard fight that followed the heroism of D-Day.
D-Day stamp details
Issue date: 6 June 2019
Design: Baxter and Bailey
Printer: International Security Printers
Perforations: 14.5 x 14
Phosphor: Bars as appropriate
Stamp size: 60mm x 30mm
1stNo. 4 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade
£1.35 Paratroopers of the British 6th Airborne Division
£1.35 Commandos of HQ 4th Special Service
£1.60 A-20 Havoc light bomber with D-Day ‘invasion strip
£1.60 East Yorkshire Regiment troops