Guernsey Post’s fourth stamp issue commemorating the centenary of WW1 explores Guernsey’s links to The Great War in the Air (issue date: 8 November), which is part of the Bureau’s Stories from the Great War series.
When the conflict began, aircraft were considered simply as a tool for reconnaissance, but by 1918, generals viewed them as a key part of their strategies. As remains the case, flying was an expensive pastime and airmen tended to come from wealthy backgrounds. Several of them were educated at Guernsey’s Elizabeth College.
Guernsey airmen included Wilfred Picton-Warlow (44p) who served in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), and who was lost at sea while flying home on leave; Charles Collet (59p), one of the best Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) airmen of his day, who was also killed in a flying accident; and Frederick Fieldhouse Smith, RFC (90p), whose plane was shot down by the Red Baron’s protégé, German Ace Karl Allmenröder.
Guernseyman and Old Elizabethan Adrian Le Patourel-Jones (73p) was also a member of the RFC though not an airman. He worked as a Station Adjutant in an Administration section, where he was responsible for discipline, record keeping and reporting to RFC headquarters.
As the air services expanded, support teams became increasingly important and their work on the ground was essential to the war effort. Guernseymen had a part to play here too as shown by the Crespin family (60p) – a father and two sons who all served in the RNAS as mechanics. All three were transferred to the RAF when it was formed in April 1918, merging the RFC and the RNAS.
Airships and seaplanes first visited Guernsey in 1916 and the following year, a French seaplane base (80p) was established on the island. The station had two directives: to locate and destroy German U-boats and minefields and to help ensure the safe passage of allied ships. It was awarded the Croix de Guerre at the end of the War.
Bridget Yabsley, head of philatelic at Guernsey Post said: – “This year, we are issuing the fourth edition of stamps commemorating the Channel Islands in the Great War. The research that we have undertaken for the series has been hugely assisted by the work of The Channel Islands Great War Study Group, whose aim is to improve the understanding and knowledge of the impact it had on the Channel Islands and people living there.”
The six stamps and related products, including a prestige booklet, are available to pre-order from 23 October by visiting www.guernseystamps.com or contacting Guernsey Philatelic Bureau on +44 (0) 1481 716486.