Isle of Man Post Office is pleased to present a miniature sheet which commemorates the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, an event that till this day sparks lively discussion. The sheet is due for release 17th February 2016.
The Battle of Jutland was the First World War's largest naval engagement, a battle fought between the "Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and Admiral Reinhard Sheer's High Seas Fleet". Jutland was the largest meeting of dreadnoughts in history. It was the only encounter between the main British and German fleets during WW1 and in a struggle that lasted less than 12 hours, 249 ships and 100,000 men fought each other to maintain maritime dominance, with the Germans attempting to lift the naval economic blockade that was slowly but surely draining Germany's lifeblood.
In the accompanying text, Nick Jellicoe, son of the second Earl who served as First Lord of the Admiralty and grandson of Sir John Jellicoe who was Commander of the Grand Fleet for 2 1/2 years between 1914 and 1916, provides an account of the events which took place on 31 May and 1 June 1916.
"The really damaging British fire took place after Admiral Scheer's ships had twice been trapped within an arc when Jellicoe's massive firepower wreaked havoc. The Germans only escaped after launching a courageous but near-suicidal torpedo attack away from which Jellicoe wisely turned his ships to avoid carnage. From around 6pm, two hours after the opening shots, visibility was appalling. Only two or three ships could be seen by anyone. And then, in the darkness of night the Germans broke through the Grand Fleet's blocking line and limped home.
During the attack, unstable cordite stacked outside protective British battle-cruiser magazines made it easier to fire more quickly but single sparks destroyed whole ships. The Germans didn't make the same mistake and their ships were designed to take more punishment."
The battle saw a great loss of life with significantly more British casualties for Britain compared to Germany; 14 British and 11 German ships were sunk. Both sides claimed victory. Jutland has been described as a tactical victory for the German High Seas Fleet but a strategic victory for the British Grand Fleet. The Germans had inflicted heavier losses on the numerically superior Grand Fleet and escaped near destruction but had failed to break the British blockade or control of the North Sea and had not altered the balance of power in any meaningful way.
This action packed miniature sheet features stamp designs by Francesca Jellicoe, daughter of Nick Jellicoe, and is divided into two parts, each showcasing a painting of HMS Iron Duke, the flagship of the Grand Fleet during the First World War, including Jutland. On the left is William Whyillie's painting of HMS Iron Duke opening fire at Jutland on a stamp depicting Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and Admiral Scheer. To the right, is William Stӧwer's painting of a German torpedo boat with portraits of Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty and Vice Admiral Franz Hipper on a stamp.
Commenting on the sheet, Nick Jellicoe said: "It is a fitting tribute to the men of both the Royal Navy and the German High Seas Fleet to have such a fine commemorative miniature stamp sheet issued in their memory.
The Battle of Jutland was a fundamental though still little understood turning point in the conduct of the First World War. Not the resounding Trafalgar the nation had expected, nor the indecisive engagement many thought but rather a strategic victory that eventually forced a fundamental change in German conduct of the naval war.
The immediate impact of declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare very nearly severed Britain's vital trade links but ultimately it led to America's entry into the war, mutiny in the German fleet and the outburst of revolutionary unrest. Admiral Jellicoe, as Churchill said, "the only man on either side who could have lost the war in an afternoon" bore this onerous burden of responsibility while quietly laying the groundwork for Britain's ultimate victory."
Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps & Coins said: "We are pleased to present this miniature sheet commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Jutland. The battle was the only major encounter between the main British and German fleets during WW1 making it a significant event. Fittingly, Nick Jellicoe, grandson of Sir John Jellicoe, has produced the accompanying text which tells the story of the battle and Francesca, his daughter, helped design the stamps."
To view the Battle of Jutland miniature sheet and to pre-order please click here