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.
Marines Assault Tarawa
As the Allied forces slowly gained control in Europe and northern Africa, they turned their attention to winning the Battle of the Pacific. Using a strategy developed by Admiral Chester A. Nimitz, the Allies hopped from island to island across the Central Pacific towards the Philippines.
Rather than capture every island held by the Japanese, the Allies by-passed Japanese strongholds and invaded those islands that were weakly held. Each captured island then became a base from which to strike the next target. This strategy, known as island hopping or leapfrogging saved both time and lives.
In November of 1943, the Allies decided to put their revolutionary strategy to the test. Admiral Nimitz selected the Gilbert Islands as the first main objective in his island-hopping campaign. Early in the morning of November 20, the Marines invaded Tarawa - an atoll of the island of Kiribati.
Although they were met by heavy fire from the Japanese, they persevered, inching slowly forward. Finally, after four days of brutal fighting, the Allies were able to capture the tiny island. Learning from the mistakes made at Tarawa, the Allies leaped north to the Marshall Islands.