News and gifts from home were always appreciated, but never as much as they were around the holidays.
For men and women serving overseas during World War One, care packages might have been their only means of celebrating the holiday season. Let’s look at two of the war’s most common care packages.
Princess Mary Christmas Tin
Princess Mary was the teenaged daughter of Britain’s King George V. For Christmas 1914, she wanted to supply each soldier serving overseas with a gift from the British people. Her solution was to create the Soldiers and Sailors Christmas Fund and to solicit the public for donations.
The public responded enthusiastically and enough money was raised to supply each service person with a brass, embossed box.
Those who qualified for a box included:
- All servicemen on the front line.
- Soldiers in hospitals or on leave
- Parents and widows of those killed in service
The fund had one month to deliver the tins on time, and 355,000 were delivered before Christmas. As the war dragged on, however, brass became scarcer and some tins weren’t delivered until 1919.
The contents of the packages varied somewhat. Nurses, for example, received chocolates while Indian troops received spices and sweets. Packages typically contained, however:
- A Christmas card or, if delivered after Christmas, a New Year’s Card.
- A photo of Princess Mary.
- Smokers: Tobacco, cigarettes, a pipe and lighter.
- Nonsmokers: Sweets and a bullet pencil.
By the time the war ended, the fund had collected $303,649 for Christmas packages.
Red Cross Parcels
The Red Cross provided care parcels to prisoners of war. The contents and distribution of the packages depended upon the soldier’s nationality. In some nations, soldiers or their families had to pay for the parcels.
In general, these parcels contained any of the following:
- Condensed milk
- Canned meats
- Tea or coffee
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Canned vegetables
- Sewing kits
- Shaving brush and soap
By the war’s end, millions of packages had been delivered.
Have you ever made a care package for a service member? Leave a comment below.
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