Royal Mail’s Glorious F Up – D Day In Dutch New Guinea

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Oh dear, this is a rather glorious screw up from the Royal Mail – they’ve used a picture of the American landings in Dutch New Guinea as an illustration for the Allied landings in Normandy on D Day. Sure, American troops went ashore in France, US Marines among them, coming off very much the same sort of ship, in the same uniforms – close enough – and so on but really, we should expect better than that.

Royal Mail has been widely criticised for planning to release a stamp marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day using an image of US troops landing in what was Dutch New Guinea, almost 8,500 miles from the Normandy beaches. The stamps, priced at £1.25 each, were due to be released in 2019 as part of a ‘Best of British’ collection. Captioned ‘Allied soldiers and medics wade ashore’, the image was supposed to depict the amphibious landings on the coast of northern France on June 6, 1944. However, after being previewed on social media, many observers pointed out the geographic error. It first appeared in the July 1944 edition of ‘All Hands’ magazine and clearly states it shows troops carrying stretchers from a landing craft at Sarmi, Dutch New Guinea – now part of Indonesia – on May 17, 1944.

Not good – but then it’s worth recalling that to err is human and no organisation staffed with such is ever going to be error free.

Given the pointing out of the error already it’s most unlikely that the stamp will go into general release now. Which means – this being the only real impact of the story – that any proofs or pre-releases now floating about are likely to become very valuable over the years. There’s a thriving market in stamps with mistakes on them – even one where they printed the plane upside down as memory recalls.