In the lead-up to Remembrance Day, Australia Post will commemorate the valour and sacrifice made by countless animals during Australia's involvement in war with the release a new stamp issue.
Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt said: "For over a century, in times of conflict we have relied on animals for transport, logistics, communications and companionship. This stamp issue is the second in a five-year program of military-themed stamps. We trust all Australians and especially animal lovers will take the time to reflect on the extraordinary animals which have served our nation."
Designed by Lisa Christensen of the Australia Post Design Studio, the issue comprises five domestic base rate (70c) stamps featuring:
- Mules and donkeys have been vital pack animals in situations of war. The most famous are Simpson's donkeys, who carried first aid and wounded soldiers during the Gallipoli campaign in World War I. The featured photograph used in the stamp design shows a mule and soldier of the 26th Australian Infantry Brigade in Syria in 1942. Photograph: Australian War Memorial.
- Dogs have also been indispensable, being used to carry messages, ammunition and medical equipment as well as locate wounded men and enemy soldiers. The featured photograph used in the stamp design was taken in Afghanistan in 2008 and shows a soldier with his explosive ordnance detection dog.
- Horses were used by mounted troops known as the Australian Light Horse, first serving in the second Boer War (1899–1902). Millions of horses, including thousands sent from Australia, died on the Western Front during World War I. The featured photograph used in the stamp design was taken in 1914, and shows the original First Light Horse Regiment at Roseberry Park Camp, near Merriwa, NSW, before departure from Australia. Photograph: Australian War Memorial.
- Pigeons were used by the Allies during both World Wars, although the Australian Corps of Signals Pigeon Service was not established until World War II. Pigeons were extremely useful when communication was very difficult and limited. The featured photograph used in the stamp design was taken in 1943 and shows a soldier of the 5th Australian Pigeon Section, Advanced Land Headquarters Signals, releasing a pigeon after attaching a message in an aluminium container to its leg. Photograph: Australian War Memorial.
- Camels served in the Imperial Camel Corps in the Middle East during World War I in their thousands. The featured photograph used in the stamp design was taken in Egypt during World War I and shows a mounted Light Horseman on a fully equipped camel. Photograph: Australian War Memorial.
Two special prestige covers are included in this stamp issue: one features Sarbi the dog and includes a cloth poppy badge. The other cover features Simpson and his donkey in a limited edition of 3,500. Other products include a miniature sheet, first day cover, stamp pack, postcard pack containing six prepaid postcards, postal and numismatic cover (limited edition of 10,500) booklet of 10 x 70 cent self-adhesive stamps, set of five maxicards and five designed gutter strips of 10 x 70 cent stamps.
A Century of Service: Animals in War stamp issue is available from 27 October 2015 at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at auspost.com.au/stamps while stocks last.