Stories from the Great War Part 4


Guernsey – This fourth issue of stamps commemorating the centenary of WWI explores Guernsey’s links to the Great War in the Air. Just over a decade before war broke out, Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane in a flight that lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. Few could have predicted the rate of technological advancement that would follow or the impact that these machines would have on the progress of the First World War. In 1914, the total number of aircraft in military service was small. Britain had just over 100 combat aircraft and few trained.

Then, as now, flying was an expensive pastime so these men tended to come from wealthy backgrounds. When Kitchener’s call went up in late summer 1914, Guernseymen eargerly stepped forward to fight for their country. At the outset of the conflict, aircraft were viewed just as a tool for reconnaissance, but by 1918, generals viewed them as a key part of their strategies. Several of the airmen were educated at Guernsey’s Elizabeth College, a private school founded in 1563 under the orders of Queen Elizabeth I and this issue looks at some of these courageous individuals. The cost to the airmen was high. Between 1914 and 1918,more than 14,000 British pilots lost their lives.