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World War I find

Rodger Richmond found a Princess Mary tin in a cupboard. They were sent out to soldiers on the front line in Christmas 1914. ANL-140104-122836001

Rodger Richmond found a Princess Mary tin in a cupboard. They were sent out to soldiers on the front line in Christmas 1914. ANL-140104-122836001

This year marks the centenary of the start of World War I and one Citizen reader has shared a historical find.

Rodger Richmond has a Princess Mary tin that was discovered in the cupboard of a house he purchased.

The small brass tins were sent to every person in the King’s uniform and contained Christmas gifts such as cigarettes or chocolate.

The gesture was the idea of 17-year-old Princess Mary, the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. She had planned to underwrite it from her own allowance but a public appeal raised £200,000 from a generous nation.

The lid bears a profile of the Princess with her initial on either side. The seven Allies of the time – Belgium, Japan, Montenegro, Servia, France and Russia – are featured and ‘Christmas 1914’ is written at the bottom.

By Christmas 1914, around 355,000 boxes had been distributed but it took well into 1916 to distribute all the boxes to those who were entitled to them. War widows were included in the recipients. In the end, 2.5 million boxes were made, filled and given out.

It is not known who the original owner of this particular box was. Mr Richmond, who lives in Colville Road, Wisbech, explained that the previous owner of the house, an elderly gentleman, liked to purchase trinkets and quirky items from car boots and sales.

 

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