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Posts by Matthew Sotheran

Before Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword there was Dieppe

Now home to around 30,500,the picturesque port of Dieppe on the Normandy coast of France was once the site of what’s perhaps the most conflicting military operation of WWII.

Some hail it as an essential lesson, to help future troops and pave the way for victory on D-Day. Whilst others see it as the most ill-fated and disastrous military effort of The War.

A test of Hitler’s “Fortress Europe”

The year is 1942, and on the morning of 19th August, alongside 1,000 British troops and 50 American Rangers, 5,000 Canadian troops began their assault on the small French port town of Dieppe. This was Canada’s first army offensive in Europe, and the results left many thinking it could well be their last.

Ultimately, the raid was strategically designed to test the Allies’ ability to launch amphibious assaults against Adolf Hitler’s “Fortress Europe”. This would inform future plans to bring about an end to the conflict.

Map of Dieppe Raid Blog Image 1 1024x643 - Before Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword there was Dieppe
The Canadian assaulted Dieppe at four designated sections
(Image courtesy of The Canadian Encyclopaedia: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/dieppe-raid )

The co-ordinated air, land and sea assault was codenamed Operation Jubilee. Allied forces landed on the shores of Dieppe with the intention of occupying the town for a brief period of time in which they would gain intelligence and entice the Luftwaffe – German Air Force – in to open battle to wear them down.

But from the beginning, nothing went as planned. Less than six hours in the commanders called a retreat.

High costs

The troops arriving via the sea unexpectedly encountered a German fleet, and the ensuing battle at sea robbed the Allies of their element of surprise. This was what they were hoping would give them the upper hand. Out of the four beaches targeted, none of the attacks were classed as successful, resulting in severe loss of life and assets. With the element of surprise lost, the Allies and their armoured support were late to arrive at their designated attack points meaning many were slaughtered with little preparation to defend themselves.

Dieppe Raid equipment on beach Blog image 2 - Before Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword there was Dieppe
Tanks and vehicles abandoned on the beach after the raid
(Image courtesy of ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/world-war-ii-dieppe-raid-2361490)

The Calgary Tanks that did make it ashore were poorly equipped for the terrain and struggled to move across the pebbled beaches. Those that did make it across the beach were unable to destroy the enemy’s concrete barriers blocking their path, their guns were not strong enough. Eventually these tanks provided covering fire for the force’s evacuation.

German casualties were light. In comparison the Allies suffered, especially the Canadians: over 900 were killed, 2,400 wounded and a further 1,900 taken prisoner. Fewer than half the Canadians who departed for Dieppe returned.

Soldiers of Dieppe Raid Blog Image 3 - Before Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword there was Dieppe
Fewer than half the Canadians who departed for Dieppe returned
(Image courtesy of France24: https://www.france24.com/en/20170819-france-canada-world-war-two-doomed-dieppe-raid)

Lessons learned

Allied commanders knew the raid was risky. But none imagined it would be such a terrible failure, with so much loss of life. It was believed the element of surprise would be their greatest weapon, allowing landing troops to overcome German defenders and occupy the town. But little thought was given to the importance of air superiority and the need for overwhelming firepower. 

Despite its failure, the raid was a pivotal moment in WWII and provided invaluable lessons for the Allies. It made clear the difficulties of assaulting a well-defended port and the need for better intelligence on conditions and communication amongst the troops – they could not rely solely on the element of surprise.

Two years later, the D-Day landings would be backed up by massive naval artillery support, dominance over the skies, and heavy firepowerthree essential factors missing at Dieppe. Finally, following D-Day success, on 1st September 1944, Dieppe was liberated.


If you’re interested…

The Royal Canadian Mint issued a 1oz Silver Proof coin to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid. It’s been specially designed as a powerful tribute to the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives.

Unsurprisingly this coin is completely sold out at the mint. But we have a limited number available for UK collectors.

Click here to secure one for your collection >>

Canada 2018 Dieppe Raid 1oz Silver Proof Coin Reverse Lifestyle1 - Before Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword there was Dieppe

Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed…

The wait is finally over and it is with great excitement that we can reveal our brand new Christmas Pantomime 50p Coins with you all.

DN 2019 Pantomime REVEAL silver 50p coin set Facebook Banner 1024x536 - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
The Complete Christmas Pantomime Silver 50p Collection

These amazing new 50p coins celebrate some of the most popular Christmas Pantomimes of all time, including: Cinderella, Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin and Dick Whittington.

And what’s not to love! With Christmas just around the corner, young or old, is there anything more traditionally British than a family trip to the local panto?

Oh no there isn’t…

DN 2019 Pantomime REVEAL BU 50p coin set Facebook Banner 1 1024x536 - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
The Complete Christmas Pantomime 50p Collection

These are the first festive-themed coins to be authorised for release by the Guernsey Treasury and each has been fully approved by Her Majesty the Queen.

Whether you’re looking for the new centrepiece for your collection, you’re an avid 50p collector, a Panto fan, or looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a loved on – I’m certain you’ll love these as much as we do!

Get your sweets, take your seat, and let us tell you more about each of the specially commissioned designs featured on the WORLD’S FIRST Pantomime 50p coins. We hope you enjoy the show!

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo… it’s Cinderella!

LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Cinderella Both Sides - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...

What could be more quintessentially Cinderella than a glass slipper? Encased in stars, this stunning design tells the story of how the Fairy God Mother makes Cinderella’s dreams come true – turning a pumpkin and mouse into grand stage coach and driver with a tap of her wand!

One of Aladdin’s 3 wishes should have been for this amazing new 50p!

LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Aladdin Both Sides - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...

This Aladdin 50p coin is guaranteed to transport you to a whole new world. And, if you rub the coin perhaps the Genie will appear out of the magic lamp that takes centre stage within the design. Featured on a floating magic carpet amongst the stars and Genie smoke, it captures the magic of Pantomime perfectly!

Fee fi fo fum… do I smell a Jack and the Beanstalk 50p coin?

LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Jack and The Beanstalk Both Sides - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...

This Jack and the Bean Stalk 50p takes coin designs to whole new heights! On here you can see Jack climbing up the giant beanstalk which sprouted after he managed to obtain magic beans from selling his beloved cow. Who knows what adventures greet him at the top…

Mirror, mirror on the wall is this Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs 50p the fairest of them all?

LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Snow White Both Sides - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which coin is the fairest of them all? I’d say this is a definite contender. The intricacies on this 50p are incredible, with the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs text seamlessly intertwining into the vines that surround that ever so fateful apple. This is one that definitely has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

He’s behind you! It’s the Dick Whittington 50p coin…

LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Dick Whittington Both Sides - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...

Did you know that Dick Whittington has been a favourite subject of British pantomime since the pre-Victorian era? The coin depicts Dick Whittington as he begins his travels to London with his cat, Tommy Tittlemouse, in search of fame and fortune. This is guaranteed to be a hit with the more traditional Panto goers.


Importantly, these FIVE brand new 50p coins are only available to own as a complete set. None will be released individually. Interested? Well, you have two fantastic options…

First is as a complete set of Silver Proof 50p Coins, featuring the vibrant colour designs you’ve seen above. This set is strictly limited to just 2,019 and given the sell-out history of Silver 50p’s, they’re unlikely to be around for long. Find out more about these and secure yours today by clicking here >>

Then you also have the set available in superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality. The coins come presented in a full colour Presentation Pack, and would make the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one. Click here to find out more and order yours today for JUST £30.00 (+p&p) >>

Please note, demand for these brand new 50p collections has already been extremely high. Whether for yourself or as a Christmas gift for a loved one, if you’d like to secure one it is advised that you act quickly.

  • LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Cinderella Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Aladdin Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Snow White Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Dick Whittington Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey 50p Pantomime Coin Jack Beanstalk Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey Pantomime BU 50p Cinderella Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey Pantomime BU 50p Alladin Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey Pantomime BU 50p Snow White Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey Pantomime BU 50p Dick Whit Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...
  • LS Guernsey Pantomime BU 50p Jack Beanstalk Lifestyle - Curtains Up! FIVE Brand New Christmas Panto 50p Coins revealed...

The blend of fact and fiction that resulted in the world’s most beautiful coin

Storytelling is one of humanity’s oldest pastimes, with events being captured and passed on for centuries though art, music and dance long before we were writing them down. And one of the oldest and most reliable ways a country can tell its stories is through its coins.

This should come as no surprise. If you think about it, currency is the constant that has always been around in one form or another. It’s continually evolving and adapting to the next chapter in the story.

But there’s one coin in particular that holds more meaning than most – as it blends fact with fiction to produce the world’s most beautiful coin, Una and the Lion.  

Controversial, yet beyond improvement

In 1839 William Wyon was commissioned to design a new coin to commemorate the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s coronation.

But it made headlines. It was controversial.

Una and the Lion origianl Obverse Reverse - The blend of fact and fiction that resulted in the world’s most beautiful coin
Image courtesy of National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History.

In a bold move it depicted Queen Victoria as the fictional character Lady Una, from Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene. Never before had someone, let alone a ruler, been featured on a coin as a fictional character.

The design shows Lady Una walking alongside her guardian and symbol of England, the lion. It is symbolic of the young monarch leading her vast empire.

Whilst a daring move, the coin was an instant success. Critics hailed it as “beyond improvement”, and to this day it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful coins to have ever been struck.

Part of its beauty was the high relief, providing exquisite intricate detail to the fictional design. But in many ways this was also its downfall, as it meant the coin could not be struck with any consistency. As a result the commemorative was only struck for one year, producing just 400 coins. This makes it extremely rare!    

The inspiration: a princess and her protector

Published in 1590, The Faerie Queene, is one of the longest and most distinguished poems in the English language. It was written during the height of the Renaissance when England had just broken away from the Catholic Church and formed its own Protestant Church. Set against the backdrop of this turbulent religious landscape, The Faerie Queene draws on history and myth to deliver numerous tales of romance, adventure, battles, morality and religion.

Una and the Lion Painting - The blend of fact and fiction that resulted in the world’s most beautiful coin
Una and the Lion, 1860, William Bell Scott

The first book of the epic poem follows the trials and tribulations of Lady Una – the young and beautiful daughter of a king and queen who have been imprisoned by a ferocious dragon. In a bid to save her parents she embarks on a quest, but on her journey she encounters a fierce lion who plans to eat her.

In a twist of events the lion is so captivated by Una’s beauty and innocence that he abandons his plans to eat her, and instead he becomes her protector and companion.

Together, the iconic pair have become a symbol of beauty, strength and endurance.

The most beautiful coin just became even more exquisite

Now, if you think it’s impossible to improve on the most beautiful coin in the world, then you haven’t encountered the East India Company yet.

Renowned for their luxurious products and exceptionally high minting standards, the East India Company has produced the most exquisite coin yet paying tribute to Una and the Lion – and in one full kilogram of silver to a mirror-like proof finish no less.  

The Una and the Lion Silver Proof Kilo Coin is surely going to be in high-demand amongst collectors, as not only does it pay tribute to one of the most iconic and rarest coins around, but it’s been issued with a miniscule edition limit.

Just 10 of these prestigious coins are available worldwide, and they are exclusively available at The Westminster Collection. There is no doubt it is going to become a future collector priority.


If you are interested…

The 10 coins available can only be purchased through The Westminster Collection. And if you’re quick you can secure one of the tiny number available. All you need to do is complete the form below and we will contact you directly to secure your coin.

Una and the Lion Silver Kilo reverse 300x296 - The blend of fact and fiction that resulted in the world’s most beautiful coin