New Zealand Post's fifth issue in its commemorative stamp and coin programme looks at the final year of the First World War with 1918 Back from the Brink.
By 1918, the war that had meant to be over and done with by Christmas 1914 was beginning to drain those at home and fighting overseas. Nerves were frayed on both sides: those at home jumping at the dreaded knock of the telegraph boy, while those on the Western front were running on little more than rations and empty rumours.
The stalemate of the trench warfare was yet to be broken despite the use of technology such as tanks and planes. The only glimmer of light for the allied forces was that America had finally come to the party and was gathering its forces. The Germans were being forced back and losing men they could no longer replace; increasingly things were looking up.
On 11 November 1918 the end of the war was firmly in hand. The Germans signed the Armistice - although formally it was cease fire, everybody knew that the war was finally over. All that remained was to get the weary and fatigued men home, a huge undertaking when many of the 56,000 men were already wounded or mentally traumatised. New Zealand had lost a total 16,700 people during the war, the highest number per capita of the dominions of the British Empire.
The Arthur Gordon Story
The central figure in this year's issue is Arthur Gordon, a heroic solider who lost both of his legs while running a message back to headquarters. On Arthur's return home he learnt to live as normal life as possible with his new prosthetic limbs. Despite his disability, Arthur never let his circumstances get him down, instead he became an advocate for disabled servicemen and made it his goal to procure better treatment for his fellow servicemen.
The full 1918 Back from the Brink story is told in a special commemorative booklet, which includes 12 unique miniature stamp sheets. All five booklets from New Zealand Post's WW1 programme are also available to pre-order as a complete set.
The WW1 stamps and coins are available from 4 April 2018 at all New Zealand PostShops. Pre-orders are available online at nzpost.co.nz/ww1