Priness Mary 1914 Christmas Tin.


Christmas 1914 was unique. When Britain had gone to war against the Axis in August, there was general optimism that the war would be over soon and the troops would all be home for Christmas.

Britain first sent over to France and Belgium the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in August 1914, that "contemptible little army". The call for volunteers had been overwhelming, and the hearts of the British people and the Empire, went out to the troops facing Christmas away from home.

A number of organisations and individuals were generous in their supply of food, tobacco, warm clothing and other 'treats' for the soldiers at the front and the sailors afloat.

In November 1914, an advertisement was placed in the national press inviting monetary contributions to a "Sailors & Soldiers Christmas Fund" which had been created by Princess Mary, the 17 year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The fund's purpose was to provide everyone who would be wearing the King's uniform on Christmas Day 1914 with a "gift from the nation".

The response was overwhelming, and it was decided to spend the money on an embossed brass box, based on a design by Messrs Adshead and Ramsey.

Contents varied considerably; officers and men on active service afloat or at the front were to receive a combination of pipe, lighter, 1 oz of tobacco and twenty cigarettes in distinctive yellow monogrammed wrappers.

Non-smokers and boys received a bullet pencil and a packet of sweets instead. Indian troops often got sweets and spices, and nurses were treated to chocolates.

Once the standard issue of tobacco or sweets was in the tin there was little room for much else, apart from the Christmas card and picture of Princess Mary.

Those not distributed until after Christmas were sent out with similar contents, but a card wishing the recipient a "Victorious New Year".

The wounded, nurses, and the widows or parents of those killed were also entitled to the gift. Prisoners of war had theirs reserved until repatriation.

Great efforts were made to distribute the boxes in time for Christmas, with huge demands being made on an already stretched postal service. More than 355,000 were successfully delivered by the deadline.


For More info try the "Imperial War Museum" Web Site