29¢ Turning the Tide
World War II Sheet
Issue Date: May 31, 1993
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
World War II was the most significant event of the 20th century. The U.S. Postal Service began planning for the war’s 50th anniversary in 1985. It wanted to honor key events of the war effort as well as the various endeavors that contributed to the Allied victory. But how to do that without producing a thousand stamps?
The solution was a series of sheetlets, one for each year of the war, that consisted of a large center map framed by five stamps on the top and five on the bottom. Five years of commemorating World War II yielded five sheets and a total of 50 stamps – enough for an honorable tribute and enough to accomplish Postal Service goals.
The world maps are masterpieces of thumbnail summaries. They call attention to the major military and political developments of the year and include events not featured on the individual stamps. Color coded for easy identification of friend and foe, they’re “a year in summary” at a glance. Entitled “1943: Turning the Tide,” U.S. #2765 is the third sheet in the series of five.
Throughout World War II Britain’s survival depended on shipments of food, war materials, and other supplies from the United States. As Germany tried to destroy these shipments, Britain struggled to keep its shipping lanes open.
The greatest threat to these precious shipments came from the “Unterseeboote”, German submarines more commonly referred to as “U-boats.” During the early years of the war, these submarines became the terror of the seas as they prowled the Atlantic, torpedoing any Allied ships they spotted.
At first the Germans seemed to be winning the Battle of the Atlantic. Each month they sank thousands of tons of Allied shipping. Gradually, the Allied forces overcame the threat of U-boats. Using a convoy system of cargo ships which sailed in large groups escorted by war ships, shipments of guns, tanks, and planes were successfully received by the British.
In addition, improvements made to radar and sonar allowed Allied forces to locate German submarines, which were then bombed when they surfaced. By 1943, the Allies were sinking the U-boats faster than Germany could replace them, and the crisis in the Atlantic had passed.