Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas 1914...



I have a nick-knack shelf at home of small things i have found or came across over the years, most of the stuff is not valuable, but one item i found is something i had held onto since finding it...


 Here is the story of this little box, a copy of a blog post from a few years ago...

When i was 14 or 15 i was out walking along the old Right of Way from Lochhill Farm to Aberlady Village on the eastern side of Gosford Estate and just before the 6 Acre Wood i kicked something lying in the long grass...


It was an old Tin which looked like it was made of brass as was all green,i took it home and cleaned it up to reveal its markings, it was from the first world war in Christmas 1914...






Princess Mary was the daughter of King George V and Queen Mary.
She was 17 when War broke out in 1914...


As the first Christmas of the War approached Princess Mary wanted to contribute to the commonwealth forces a gift for Christmas....
Due to the scale of this it was decided best that an appeal fund was set up in her name, Hers words to the people were;

"I want you now to help me to send a Christmas present from the whole of the nation to every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front. I am sure that we should all be happier to feel that we had helped to send our little token of love and sympathy on Christmas morning, something that would be useful and of permanent value, and the making of which may be the means of providing employment in trades adversely affected by the war. Could there be anything more likely to hearten them in their struggle than a present received straight from home on Christmas Day,
Please will you help me?"


Money poured in by the public only too keen to make there loved ones fighting have an enjoyable Christmas, though `the war that would be over by Christmas` was now looking to be a long affair and the true horror of trench warfare was starting to become knowledge by returning wounded and rising numbers of the fallen...
It was decided a box would be sent to the sailors and soldiers in service of the Commonwealth as an appreciation of there bravery...




There were approx 500,000 boxes made...
There were two contents in the boxes, one for smokers, one for non smokers,
Non Smokers box included a packet of acid tablets, a khaki writing case containing pencil, paper and envelopes together with the Christmas card and photograph of Princess Mary...


Smokers box included one ounce of pipe tobacco, twenty cigarettes, a pipe, a tinder lighter, Christmas card and photograph of the Princess...


Along with letters and cards from family and loved one these boxes must of been a welcome gift to the young men at Christmas in 1914,
For infantry sat in a cold trench in terrible conditions with death all around or sailors on ships in constant fear of torpedo attacks at anytime...

I wonder who it was who lost the box i found, was he a survivor?
or was it a tin sent home with personal belongings of a fallen soldier or sailor?
The box is 100 years old now, a relic from `The War to End All Wars`...
But still there is fighting in the world...

You can read more about the Princess Mary Appeal Fund and the Boxes on line here at;
The Imperial War Museum

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