Royal Mail concludes its poignant five-year series commemorating the centenary of the Great War on September 13, with the First World War 1918 set.

Like each of the preceding issues, it focuses on one year of the world-changing conflict, with one stamp exploring each of six themes: poppies, poetry, portraits, art, memorials and artefacts.

They concentrate less on how the war changed the course of history, and more on its impact on individual lives, millions of which were ended or transformed.

Designed by Hat-Trick Design, the stamps were printed in litho by International Security Printers.

 

1st class

100 Poppies by Zafer & Barbara Baran

To mark the centenary of the end of the war, artists Zafer and Barbara Baran photographed 100 freshly-cut poppies in carefully arranged lighting and layered the images. The result is a composite image with a ghostly light filtering through the overlapping petals.

1st class

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

The rawness and power of the opening lines of Anthem For Doomed Youth, by one of Britain’s most celebrated war poets, Wilfred Owen, is reflected by a woodblock print evoking the shattered treescapes painted by war artist Paul Nash. Owen was killed in action just one week before the Armistice of November 1918.

1st class

Second Lieutenant Walter Tull

Born in 1888 to an English mother and a Barbadian father, Walter Tull had to give up his career as a professional footballer when war broke out, becoming the first mixed-race officer to command a regular unit in the British Army. He survived the Battle of the Somme in 1916, but was killed in action in March 1918, and has no known grave.

£1.55

We Are Making A New World by Paul Nash

An artist by profession, Paul Nash fought with the Hampshire Regiment until he was injured in 1917, and later returned to the Western Front as an official war artist. The ironically titled We Are Making A New World depicts the sunrise over a bleak landscape of shattered trees and shell holes near Ypres, Belgium, in 1918.

£1.55

The Grave of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey

For a nation trying to recover from the enormous loss of life in the Great War, a focal point of grief was the formal burial, on November 11, 1920, of a soldier chosen at random from unidentifiable remains on the Western Front. A huge crowd paid its respects in London, and King George V followed the coffin to Westminster Abbey.

£1.55

Lieutenant Francis Hopgood’s goggles

Clear eyesight was essential to the pioneer pilots serving with the new Royal Air Force, established in April 1918. Preserved in the Museum of Army Flying are the custom-made goggles, complete with prescription lenses in Triplex safety glass, worn by Lieutenant Francis Hopgood, who was one of the first RAF pilots shot down behind enemy lines. He survived as a prisoner of war.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

Besides the standard first day cover, there is a coin cover featuring the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice £2 coin. Limited-edition silver proof and gold proof versions are also available at premium prices.

 

PRICES

Set of 6 stamps   £6.66

Presentation pack   £7.20

Stamp cards   £2.70

First day cover   £8.41

Coin cover   £17.50

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   5/5

This five-set series has been conceived and produced with sensitivity and class, and adds up to suitable memorial

QUALITY OF DESIGN  4/5

In a disparate range of evocative images, each design rewards closer inspection and contemplation

WOW FACTOR   2/5

In the majority of cases it is not the image itself which stirs the emotions, but the back story