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|A Christmas Card from the King and Queen in 1914
The 1914 Christmas post card
At Christmas time in 1914 British soldiers received this
card from the King and Queen. The King, George V, was looking
straight into the camera lens, creating the impression he was
speaking directly to his army. It is a powerful image and the
card, with a simple but warm message on the reverse (below),
was greatly appreciated by the men.
At around the same time they also received a gift
from Princess Mary who, in
mid October, had appealed to the nation for funds.
Even children contributed, sending money to the fund instead of
receiving Christmas presents.
My grandfather, writing home from France on 18 January 1915, refers
to his gift and asks his wife if she has received it, as
he had forwarded it to her for safe keeping. He was billeted with
an elderly couple in a farm labourer's cottage at the time; the
snow was almost knee-deep and his horses were outside in freezing
The 1914 Christmas postcard, back, with the Royal message
... and one from the Duke and 3 Mayors in 1915
Derbyshire's soldiers received this card for Christmas in 1915.
On the back of the card:
The 1915 card was printed by Bemrose of Derby.
A message from the Duke of Devonshire
Messages from the Mayors of Derby and Chesterfield were in the
The final official message was, somewhat inexplicably, from the Mayor
It has never been clear why a Matlock man should have received a card
designed for an Ilkeston soldier.
Christmas cards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann
Andrews Intended for personal use only
"The Times" 2 Nov, 1914 : Princess Mary's Fund. Christmas
Gifts For The Soldiers And Sailors.
On 15 October 1914 Princess Mary had appealed for funds "to
provide a Christmas gift for every soldier and sailor on active service" ...
The King headed the list with £100". The article also said that
by Christmas time 600,000 men would be eligible for the gift. "The
gift will take the form of an embossed brass tobacco or cigarette
box, on the lid of which will be a portrait of the Princess, with
tobacco or cigarettes, a pipe and a tinder lighter". The Indian
troops and none smokers were to receive a box of sweets and making
the boxes was being done in areas where work had been scarce.
 "The Times", 11 Nov,
 Letter from John Clay, 18 January
1915, Ann Andrews collection. Various newspapers, including
"The Times", had suggested sending the boxes home before Christmas, as keepsakes
for the families.