Stamps commemorating the four Liberty ships that called at Tristan in May 1943 having suffered radio and cargo damage due to severe storms.

Visiting US Liberty Ships (1943)

Issue date: 6th April 2023

Visiting US Liberty Ships (1943), First day cover
Visiting US Liberty Ships (1943), First day cover
202305 Mint Stamps (4 x 85p + £1.15 se-tenant pairs) £8.00
202306 First Day Cover (with 2 x 85p + £1.15 se-tenant pairs) £5.20
202307 First Day Cover (with 2 x 85p + £1.15 se-tenant pairs) £5.20

During the Second World War, Tristan was commissioned by the Royal Navy as a top-secret naval station code-named Job 9 and later renamed HMS Atlantic Isle. Its role was to monitor U Boats (which were required to maintain radio contact) and shipping in the South Atlantic Ocean.

In early May 1943, the island was assaulted by an easterly gale lasting four days. A week later four American liberty ships, all eastward bound, put to the island one after the other. They had suffered damage to their cargos and radio equipment.

Liberty ships were a class of cargo ship built in the United States during WWII. They have been described as the ships that won the war.

In 1939 the German Navy launched submarine warfare in the North Atlantic Ocean to enforce a naval blockade against Great Britain. The submarines sank great numbers of merchant ships approaching the British Isles.

If the United States entered the war cargo ships would be needed to ferry supplies to allies and the United States decided to modify the English design being used for the Lend-Lease ships as they could be mass produced and relatively cheaply meet the United States WWII maritime transport needs.

The new emergency cargo ships came to be known as the Liberty ships. Between 1939 and 1940 only 82 vessels were constructed but the Ship Warrants Act in 1941 gave the Maritime Commission power to allot ship construction priorities. The Maritime Commission established 18 new shipyards to work on these identical merchant ships and between 1941 - 1945 2710 Liberty ships were built (an average of three ships every two days). By 1944, the average time to build a Liberty ship was less than forty-two days. During the course of the war Liberty ships carried around two-thirds of all United States cargo.

Description of the Stamps

The Liberty ships were usually named after famous Americans, starting with the signatories of the Declaration of Independence. Those that visited Tristan in 1943 all have fascinating stories:

Visiting US Liberty Ships (1943), 85p + £1.15Clara Barton (Clarissa Harlowe Barton 1821 - 1912) is one of the most honoured women in American history. Barton was a pioneering American nurse who risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field during the American Civil War. Nursing education was not very formalised at that time and she did not attend nursing school, so she provided self-taught nursing care. She founded the American Red Cross in 1881, aged 59, and led it for the next 23 years. Barton is especially noteworthy for doing humanitarian work and civil rights advocacy at a time before women had the right to vote. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1973.

Visiting US Liberty Ships (1943), 85p + £1.15Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) was a lawyer who served as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939. He attended Harvard Law School, graduating at the age of 20 with what is widely rumoured to be the highest-grade average in the law school's history. He gained a reputation as a formidable defender and advocate for everyday Americans through his many crusading cases, which included exposing corruption in the Ballinger-Pinchot Affair, fighting railroad trusts, and defending laws restricting women's working hours. Brandeis championed open inquiry and civic engagement. During his tenure on the high court (1916-1941), Justice Brandeis established the legal concept of a right to privacy, fiercely defended civil liberties, and helped define the modern understanding of free speech.

Visiting US Liberty Ships (1943), 85p + £1.15William Moultrie (1730-1805) was a South Carolina planter and politician who became a general in the American War of Independence (the last man appointed by Congress to that rank). After independence, Moultrie advanced as a politician. He was the Governor of South Carolina 1785-1787 and again 1792-1794.


Visiting US Liberty Ships (1943), 85p + £1.15James McHenry (1753 - 1816) was a Scotch-Irish American military surgeon, statesman, and a Founding Father of the United States. He was elected by the legislature to the Maryland Senate on September 17, 1781, and as delegate to Congress on December 2, 1784. McHenry initiated the recommendation for congress to form the Navy. In 1787, he was a Maryland delegate to and secretary of the Constitutional Convention, which drafted the United States Constitution. He served as United States Secretary of War from 1796 to 1800. Upon his death his wife wrote "… He was not a great man, but participated in great events and great men loved him, while all men appreciated his goodness and purity of soul."

First Day Cover - USS Roger Griswold - Roger Griswold (1762 - 1812) was a lawyer, politician and judge from Connecticut, who served as a member of the US House of Representatives, and in other offices.

Technical Specifications from Pobjoy Mint Ltd.

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