A set of eight stamps and a miniature sheet, released on May 8, marks the 75th anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Royal Mail says the issue is built on three concepts: celebration, homecoming and remembrance.

The eight counter-sheet stamps capture the sense of relief and celebration shared by service personnel and civilians after six long years of conflict. Originally photographed in black and white, each scene has been given extra vibrancy by being colourised by Royston Leonard.

An entirely different tone is set by the miniature sheet, which focuses on remembrance through sombre modern images of cemeteries and monuments to the fallen, both in battle and in the Holocaust.

World War II officially came to an end in Europe on the morning of May 7, 1945, when representatives of Germany signed a document of unconditional surrender. Public celebrations began spontaneously, and the following day was declared a public holiday, as ‘VE Day’.

The war in the Pacific did not end until Japan surrendered on August 14, prompting more celebrations for ‘VJ Day’ on August 15, the first of two more public holidays.

Designed by Hat-Trick Design, it was printed in litho by International Security Printers. The counter sheets of 60, divided into two panes of 30, offer vertically se-tenant pairs.

 

2nd class SERVICEMAN WELCOMED HOME

A serviceman enjoys a flag-waving reception as he returns home to Oreston, a village on the outskirts of Plymouth in Devon, from his wartime airbase in Lincolnshire.

2nd class NURSES CELEBRATE

Squeezing inside or clinging precariously to the outside of an ambulance, jubilant nurses celebrate VE Day in Liverpool.

1st class JUBILANT PUBLIC

Waving flags, carrying banners and wearing rosettes, ecstatic crowds celebrate VE Day in London’s Piccadilly.

1st class EVACUEES RETURN HOME

Evacuees alight at St Pancras Station in London, returning home to their families after a wartime stay in Leicester.

£1.42 TROOPS PARADE

British and Commonwealth troops march along Oxford Street in London during a parade for the Victory Over Japan exhibition, which opened a week after VJ Day.

£1.42 DEMOBILISED SERVICEMEN

‘Demob-happy’ soldiers and sailors leave a demobilisation centre carrying their civilian clothes in boxes, keen to return to their everyday lives.

£1.63 ALLIED POWs LIBERATED

Prisoners of war from various Allied nations cheer their rescuers as they are liberated from Aomori Camp near Yokohama in Japan following VJ Day.

£1.63 NAVY PERSONNEL CELEBRATE

A member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service proposes a toast to Royal Navy servicemen and revellers during the VE Day celebrations in Glasgow.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

1st class YAD VASHEM, JERUSALEM

Israel’s official Holocaust memorial was established in 1953. The Hall of Names holds the names of millions of victims of the Nazi genocide, with some 600 portraits displayed on the cone-shaped ceiling.

1st class RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL

Located in Surrey, and also known as the Air Forces Memorial, this commemorates more than 20,000 airmen and women who were lost during operations from bases in the UK and Europe during the war, and who have no known grave.

£1.63 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL

Unveiled in 1924 to commemorate more than 7,000 sailors who died World War I and have no known grave, this was extended in the 1950s to include around 16,000 sailors who perished during World War II.

£1.63 RANGOON MEMORIAL, MYANMAR

Established in 1958 within the Taukkyan War Cemetery, this site commemorates almost 27,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who fell during the campaign against Japanese forces in Burma (Myanmar) and have no known grave.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack explores the events leading up to and immediately following the end of the war.

A press sheet of 14 uncut miniature sheets is available, along with stamp cards, first day covers and a choice of coin covers.

 

PRICES

Set of 8 stamps   £8.92

Miniature sheet   £4.78

Presentation pack   £14.60

Press sheet   £73.61

Stamp cards   £5.85

First day cover (stamps)   £11.35

First day cover (mini sheet)   £6.40

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   5/5

Major anniversaries such as this should always be marked, and this may be the last one before the events of 1939-45 pass from living memory into history

QUALITY OF DESIGN   3/5

Colourising the monochrome images in such a sympathetic way has made them easier for modern eyes to relate to

WOW FACTOR   2/5

The sheet stamps’ focus on social celebration presents a sharp contrast with the world’s current crisis