Royal Mail criticised for D-Day stamp mix-up

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Royal Mail handout image of one of a set of 11 stamps being issued in 2019 to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.Image source, PA

Royal Mail has withdrawn a stamp design marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day - after BBC News pointed out it showed US troops landing in what was Dutch New Guinea, nearly 8,500 miles from France.

The stamp was due to be released next year in a "Best of British" collection.

Captioned "Allied soldiers and medics wade ashore", it was said to depict the Normandy landings but was actually taken in what is modern-day Indonesia.

People who saw the error in a social media preview called it "embarrassing".

The image appears on the American National WWII Museum website, attributed to the US Coast Guard, and is said to show troops carrying stretchers from a landing craft at Sarmi, Dutch New Guinea on 17 May 1944.

The D-Day landings did not take place until 6 June that year, when British, US and Canadian forces landed on the beaches of northern France.

The landings were the first stage of Operation Overlord - the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe - and were intended to end World War Two.

Royal Mail had revealed a preview of its 2019 Special Stamp programme, showcasing the "Best of British" on Thursday.

Others depicted a red kite to celebrate the UK's birds of prey and commemorated the bicentenary of the birth of Queen Victoria.

The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings was to be marked by a set of 11 stamps, in what the Royal Mail called "a timely commemoration of all those who participated" using "images from the day itself".

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Paul Woodadge, 49, a D-Day historian and former tour guide living in Normandy, who is originally from Essex, said: "It's quite shocking really."

Speaking before Royal Mail announced it was withdrawing the stamp, he said: "It's going to be the 75th anniversary of D-Day - the last one where there's any veterans around who will remember it.

"These stamps are the kind of thing people will buy for their fathers and grandfathers."

A Twitter account for World War Two tours of Jersey tweeted Royal Mail to point out that the featured ship, LCI-30, did not participate in the Normandy landings.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A good alternative? Paul Woodadge suggested this image of Royal Marines at Normandy's Juno Beach would suit a special stamp

Writing on Facebook, Peter Simpson said the stamp was "offensive and disrespectful of those that lost their lives on D-Day".

Late on Thursday, a Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "We work very hard to ensure that our Special Stamp programme appropriately commemorates anniversaries and events that are relevant to UK heritage and life.

"We would like to offer our sincere apologies that our preview release for our 2019 Special Stamp programme included a stamp design which had been incorrectly associated with the D-Day landings.

"We can confirm that this image will not be part of the final set, which will be issued in June 2019."