The 70th Anniversary of D-Day is being commemorated with a striking and emotive set of six stamps, commemorative sheet and limited edition folder, produced in support of the Royal British Legion and The Normandy Veterans Association. The issue, presented by Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, is released today (8th May) and will be carried to Normandy by war veteran Hector Duff as he makes an emotional return to mark the Anniversary of June 6th, 1944.
In the text that accompanies the stamps, Manxman Hector provides a very detailed and personal account of his memories of Operation Overlord, and the unexpected resistance as the allies tried to push into France and force the Germans back into their own country. Hector, 94, landed on Gold Beach. Last year he was presented with the British Empire Medal in recognition for his tireless work in bringing war history alive to school children in the Isle of Man. Hector is returning to Normandy next month for the 70th Anniversary.
Hector's story of events, chronicled by Colonel Charles Wilson of the Isle of Man Cadet Force, describes how he looked at D-Day as a crossroads between the long war already fought and the final push at the end of World War II (WWII). His account builds a clear picture of the events that unfolded on the day, from the rough Channel crossing in the Landing Craft to the realisation of the hundreds and hundreds of vessels surrounding them and his discomfort at the heavy firing and number dead and wounded already on the beach and in the water.
Hector said: "Isle of Man Stamps and Coins has created a moving stamp issue commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. The black and white images used are poignant and truly representative of D-Day. They bring back memories to me of the day itself and the hard ones that followed before victory was secured."
The allied invasion of the Normandy beaches on 6th June 1944 was the largest amphibious assault ever and one of the most heroic, audacious and significant battles of WWII. Known as Operation Overlord, the invasion involved nine army divisions in the initial attack with the support of over 7,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft. More than 75,000 British and Canadian troops, and 57,000 US troops landed on the beaches, with a further 24,000 landing by air. The beaches known by their Overlord code-names, Sword, Gold and Juno in the East, the site of the British and Canadian landings, and Omaha and Utah to the West, where American forces were concentrated.
The set of six stamps in the issue feature original black and white prints of photos from the infamous beach landings and images of war weary French nationals being liberated. In addition, a commemorative sheet that incorporates stamps from the 50th, 60th and 70th D-Day Anniversaries has been included and a limited edition folder is also available, from which £2.50 of each sale will go to The Normandy Veterans Association, for the new memorial to be located in the National Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire, in remembrance of those who fought on the beaches of Northern France in 1944. The Isle of Man Treasury has further commemorated the last international commemoration of Operation Overlord with a specially minted Crown.
Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, said: "We are delighted with the stamps. D-Day was a major turning point in WWII and Hector's account is true of many veterans that survived the day and the events that followed. His recollection depicts D-Day as it happened and is a fitting tribute to those that fell and the veterans who survived."