Stamps commemorating 50 years since the award of the Sword of Peace to RFA Ennerdale for its part in an emergency search operation at Gough Island.

The Sword of Peace

Issue date: 8th December 2020

The Sword of Peace, £1.50, SAS Simon van der Stel The Sword of Peace, £2.50, RFA Ennerdale
202017 Mint Stamps (£1.50, £2.50) £4.00
202018 First Day Cover (with £1.50, £2.50 stamps) £5.00

The Sword of Peace


The Sword of Peace is a prestigious award conveying a very positive message. It was established by the British sword maker Wilkinson Sword in 1966 with the company presenting ceremonial swords to units of the Royal Navy (including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary), British Army, and Royal Air Force that had made the most outstanding contributions to good and friendly relations with communities at home or overseas. After Wilkinson stopped the production of swords in 2005, Firmin & Sons began sponsoring the award.

As part of the Naval Service, Royal Fleet Auxiliaries have received a number of these awards and Tristan is proud to be associated with the very first Royal Fleet Auxiliary to receive this award.

In 1969, RFA Ennerdale, a Dale-class mobile reserve tanker launched in 1962, was diverted from her normal tasking to refuel the South African destroyer SAS Simon van der Stel which was en route to Gough Island, in the South Atlantic, to search for two missing South African meteorologists from the weather station there who had gone on a hike hours before the island was hit by a violent and unexpected storm. The SAS Simon van der Stel's journey took almost two weeks as she endured high seas and foul winds.

Once the South African ship had reached Gough Island, RFA Ennerdale steamed to Tristan da Cunha to collect a 12-man volunteer search party to assist in the search. Although the South African Navy had had many men ashore, searching Gough's unforgiving terrain, before the return of the Ennerdale, they had not managed to locate the missing men. The Tristanians moved off in a different direction from that taken by the original search party and quickly located the bodies of the two meteorologists by noon of the same day. They had died of exposure several days before. The island volunteers sailed to Cape Town with the SAS Simon van der Stel, returning to Tristan on the MV R.S.A. She sailed on to Gough Island collecting the two bodies to take back to Cape Town thus ending a tragic operation.

The Sword of Peace was presented to RFA Ennerdale in 1970, shortly before the ship was lost on an uncharted reef in the Seychelles.

At the time, the SAS Simon van der Stel was the only helicopter equipped vessel in the South African Navy. Prior to its sale to South Africa along with its Wessex Helicopter, the Simon van der Stel saw active service in the Royal Navy as HMS Whelp.

As a new Fleet Destroyer, HMS Whelp sailed to the Indian ocean to join the British Pacific Fleet in 1944 with her newly appointed First Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (now Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh). She was to be the last warship that he served on and was present at the Japanese surrender of Hong Kong (arriving with Admiral Fraser onboard) and at Tokyo for the formal Japanese surrender.

£1.50 - SAS Simon van der Stel

£2.50 - RFA Ennerdale

FDC - The meteorological base on Gough Island is shown together with a special 1969 commemorative cover signed by all 12 members of the Tristan Volunteer Search Team.

Technical Specifications from Pobjoy Mint Ltd.

Designer:Andrew Robinson
Printer:Cartor Stamp size:42 x 28mm
Process:Lithography Perforation:13¼ x 13½ per 2cms
Production Co-ordination:Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd Sheet format:10