Princess Mary Tin

Princess Mary was the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary.  In Christmas 1914, she was 17 years old  and the ‘Sailors and Soldiers Christmas fund’ was created in her name, to ‘provide everyone wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914 with a gift from the nation’.

The appeal was so successful, that eligibility for the gift was extended to include every person ‘wearing the Kings uniform on Christmas Day 1914’, this ran to over two and a half million service men and women, including those from the commonwealth.  Gifts were also sent to the widows or parents of those killed, whilst prisoners had their gift reserved for them until they were repatriated.  Although over 355,000 people received their gifts by Christmas Day, many were not received until as late as 1916 because of the shortage of brass, which was being used for munitions.

The contents of the box varied. Smoking officers and men received a pipe, lighter, tobacco and cigarettes.  Non-smokers received a bullet pencil and sweets, nurses received chocolate, whilst Indian troops often received sweets and spices.  During the war Princess Mary took a particular interest in promoting the VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachment) and the Land Girls.

Click here for a dramatized video of a First World War soldier receiving his Princess Mary Tin.


By Jenny Flood.
The photo is of a Princess Mary Tin currently on loan to Newhaven Museum.