Debate over Anzac stamps
Poppies for Gallipoli disputed
The decision to include the poppy, New Zealand’s symbol of Anzac remembrance, on a stamp issue 50 years ago turned out to be contentious.
The stamps were issued on April 14, 1965, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Anzac Day.
A large red poppy was placed on the 5d (4 cents) stamp, but not the 4d stamp, as a compromise agreed with the Gallipoli Veterans’ Association.
The association had said the poppy related to action at Flanders, not Gallipoli.
In the original design, both the special Anzac issues of 4d and 5d stamps featured a poppy.
A jetty and huts were shown on the foreshore, but were removed because they did not appear until a fortnight after the Gallipoli landing.
A small stylised poppy was added next to the ‘‘ 1915’’ date on both stamps when the designs were revised.
During World War I, New Zealand troops first saw action on April 25, 1915, when they landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.
Their object was to capture Constantinople ( now Istanbul). That disastrous but heroic campaign failed, leaving 2721 New Zealanders dead and 4752 wounded.
The campaign became the symbol of Australian and New Zealand war losses, with April 25 observed in both countries as Anzac Day, a time to remember those who died serving their countries in war.
Poppies have been associated with this remembrance in New Zealand since the Returned Soldiers’ Association ( now the Returned and Services’ Association) introduced them in 1922.
Their sale takes place on Poppy Day, which this year will be on April 17.
Money raised from their sale originally went to support returned soldiers in need, and the French war widows and orphans who made the fabric flowers.
The 1965 Anzac stamps were not New Zealand’s first to commemorate Anzac Day. That honour went to a 1936 issue for the 21st anniversary of Anzac Day.
Both those stamps had a soldier in a 1915 uniform against a background of Anzac Cove.
In 1958 the RSA suggested that the 50th anniversary of Anzac Day be commemorated by a special postage stamp issue in 1965. Fourteen artists were invited to submit essays depicting the landing at Gallipoli. Ten took up the challenge and submitted design roughs to a panel.
The panel awarded the commission to Maurice Conly of Christchurch.
Both stamps were used mainly on mail posted to New Zealand addresses. The 4d was for standard letters and the 5d on internal air mail letters.
Because Anzac Day fell on a Sunday in 1965, special arrangements were made for the Chief Post Offices in the main centres to date-stamp first-day covers bearing the Anzac stamps as April 25.
A violet ink date-stamp was used, which included the words ‘‘Anzac Day’’.
Of the 1965 stamps, only the 5d version has the red poppy, but both contain a stylised poppy.