Royal Mail issues WWI France sheet

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Royal Mail have launched a Commemorative Sheet to mark the centenary of the Post Office Rifles arrival in France on 18th March 1915.

More than 75,000 men from the General Post Office (GPO), the forerunner of today’s Royal Mail plc, BT plc and Post Office Ltd, fought in the First World War, including 12,000 men who fought with its own regiment, the Post Office Rifles.

The sheet documents their bravery, tenacity and character during their time in the trenches on the Western Front which earned the regiment high praise and a prestigious place in British military history.

The sheet includes a backing card telling the story of the Rifles from formation and early campaigns through to their involvement as infantry in the First World War.

It also contains a reproduction of the regimental recruitment poster from May 1915.

The GPO began supporting British Forces in 1868, when the War Office agreed that a regiment of 1,000 men be formed from GPO employees.

In 1880, the Rifle Volunteers formed a 100-strong Army Post Office Corps that saw military action when hostilities in Egypt threatened British control of the Suez Canal in 1882.

The Post Office Rifles were part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) dispatched in 1885 to support General Gordon in Khartoum.

During the 1899-1902 Boer War, the 24th Middlesex contributed officers and men to oversee a comprehensive effort of wartime communications.

Though the regiment was relieved of its postal duties after the Haldane Reforms of 1908, it kept its association with the Post Office and continued to recruit postal workers into the Territorial Force under its new title 8th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Post Office Rifles).

Royal Mail is also custodian of around 250 war memorials commemorating those who gave their lives and has published a searchable database of memorials to the fallen in its care - www.royalmailmemorials.com.

The stamp sheet is on sale now and available at

www.royalmail.com/postofficerifles.

Or can be aquired by phone on 03457 641 641 .

It will also be available in 8000 Post Offices across the UK.