A sponsored official Royal Mail postmark will commemorate the 50th anniversary of a serious and notorious crime. The crime was the so-called Great Train Robbery which took place in 1963. The crime involved the theft of 2.6 million pounds (equivalent to £41 million pounds in present times) from a train and was committed at Bridgego Railway Bridge at Ledburn in Buckinghamshire. Extraordinarily, the postmark commemorates a crime against Royal Mail itself since the train which was involved was the Glasgow to London Travelling Post Office (TPO). The robbers stopped the train in the early hours of the morning of 8 August 1963 and assaulted the train driver and then moved the train so that it could be unloaded. The gang unloaded all but 7 of 128 sacks of money which were being carried on the train and divided the spoils between the 17 main participants in the crime, each receiving about £150000 plus smaller amounts going to others who had some involvement in the crime. Eleven people were eventually arrested and sentenced to prison terms although it was later acknowledged that not all of them were actually guilty of involvement in the crime. Two of the criminals escaped from prison. Perhaps because of the large amount of money stolen, the criminals gained an inappropriate glamour and films were made about them.
So, 50 years later, the crime has merited a philatelic commemoration by Royal Mail itself in the form of a commemorative postmark. The circular cancellation bears the geographical location of Cheddington Leighton Buzzard and the inscription "50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery" with the actual anniversary date of the crime "08 08 2013." At the centre of the cancellation is a depiction of a fingerprint. What can one say about the appropriateness of such a commemoration? What will Royal Mail next produce a postmark for? The murders of Dr. Crippin? A series of 6 to commemorate the 6 victims of Jack The Ripper? Honestly, philately has gone mad and now a once respectable stamp-producing administration has been reduced to making money from the glamourisation of crime - one in which it was the victim and where innocent men were injured.