Cigarettes & Tobacco and ww1 Soldiers - Tony Allen
Published by A. VIVIAN MANSELL & Co., London. Posted on 24th July 1918 at Gretna - to an address in Cumberland.
of the most successful and enduring fund-raising efforts of the war were the
'Smokes for the Troops' funds. On 29th October 1914, The Times announced to its
readers that at Lord Kitchener's request a Smokes for Soldiers and Sailors Fund
had been formed "to provide our wounded…with tobacco and cigarettes in
hospitals here and at the front…and is at the moment sending regular supplies
to over 200 hospitals and convalescent homes." Those who were serving at the
front were not forgotten either.
make it easier for the public to send cigarettes and tobacco to members of the
B.E.F. the Post Office allowed such 'comforts' to be mailed by the cheaper
letter post instead of parcel post. The French Government also consented to
waive customs duty on tobacco and cigarettes addressed to British troops
serving abroad. A few days later The Times said, "Those who have just returned from the front
report that many of our soldiers still long for a supply of cigarettes and
tobacco. To meet this need, the Weekly Dispatch has started a Tobacco Fund,
and…£12,000 has already been collected. But much more is required to keep up a
These three real photographic postcards show British soldiers enjoying a cigarette or a pipe of tobacco.
A number of tobacco funds were set up which used picture postcards in their advertising campaigns. For example, The Weekly Dispatch Tobacco Fund published at least two appeal cards,
which carried the slogan "Every 6d. will gladden the
heart of a HERO." One of the cards featured the classic ‘Arf A Mo
KAISER!’ sketch by Bert Thomas, which he drew in less than 15 minutes. (By the
end of the war, the sketch had helped to raise more than £250,000 for
Bert Thomas donated the original sketches
on these two postcards to the Weekly Dispatch Tobacco Fund. The Daily Mail
called the image on the card on the right "the funniest picture of the war",
although not everyone agreed with the comment. The cards were printed at Aldershot by Gale & Polden. The one on the left was number 1312 and was posted in 1915. The card on the right was number 1293 and was posted from Chelmsford to Leeds on 1st December 1916.
Two more examples of the famous Bert Thomas sketch. The one on the left is a poster displayed at a collecting point for donations to Canada's Tobacco Fund - organised by the Over-Seas Club. On the right is a poster used for the same purpose - but in Britain.
The Reverend Studdert Kennedy M.C.
Soon, cheap cigarettes were as much a part of trench life as barbed
wire. The Rev. Studdert Kennedy, M.C, an army chaplain, sometimes known as
‘Woodbine Willie’ (from his habit of distributing cigarettes around the front-line trenches) wrote in ROUGH RHYMES OF A PADRE; "Quarters kids us it’s the
rations, And the dinners as we gets, But I know what keeps us smiling’, Its the
On the reverse of this postcard is printed "MADSEN'S ECCLESIASTICAL SERIES, THE BROOK, L'POOL."
The Rev. Theodore Bayley Hardy, V.C, D.S.O, M.C, asking Kennedy for
advice when working with the men in the frontline, was advised, "Live with the men. Go everywhere they go.
Make up your mind that you will share all their risks, and more if you can do
any good...Don’t be bamboozled into believing that your proper place is behind
the line; it isn’t. If you stay behind you might as well come down, you won’t
do a ha’porth of good. Your place is in the front. The line is the key to the
whole business. Work in the front, and they will listen to you when they come
out to rest...the men will forgive you anything but lack of courage and
devotion; without that you are useless. There is very little purely spiritual work,
it is all muddled and mixed - but it is all spiritual. Take a box of fags in your
haversack and a great deal of love in your heart, and go up to them, laugh with
them, joke with them; you can pray with them sometimes, but pray for them
Smokes Acknowledgement cards
early 1915, the Weekly Dispatch was joined by other national and local newspapers who established their own Tobacco
Funds. For example, the Bexley Heath Observer started a fund and used a Bert
Thomas cartoon on its ‘Cigarette and tobacco acknowledgement cards’. The cards were usually buff-coloured with the name and
address of a subscriber entered on the front and put into a parcel
of 'smokes' and sent to the front and given to a soldier. The man who
received the parcel then wrote a few words of thanks to the person named on the card. It was then posted into the military postal system, which returned it to the
U.K. or where ever else the gift had originated from. The Bexley Heath Observer card is shown below on the left.
LEFT: This illustrated 'acknowledgement' card was returned by a soldier serving in 37 Brigade on the Western
Front, to a girl in Standard 4, Uplands School, Bexley Heath. The 37 Brigade
together with 35 and 36 formed the 12th (Eastern) Division and arrived in
France on 1st June 1915. Its principal battles were Loos 1915, the Somme 1916,
Arras and also Cambrai 1917 and the Somme in 1918. The tobacco fund requested
the return of the card to its headquarters, if the message on the back was
anything more than personal interest it "would probably help the organiser to
stimulate further subscriptions, and a lot more money is required to keep up
supplies to the brave men." The message from the soldier was simply a personal "thank you". RIGHT: The illustration on this smokes acknowledgement
card is again by Bert Thomas. The card was posted at Field Post Office 53 on
19th November 1915. This was the field post office of 53 Brigade, which
together with 54 and 55 formed the 18th (Eastern) Division, which arrived in
France on 24th July 1915. The principal battles in which the division was
involved were the Somme 1916, Ancre Operations, Ypres and Passchendaele
1917, and the Somme in 1918.
LEFT: Mailed from Army Post office S.11 (located
at the huge British camp at Etaples) by a member of the B.E.F. on 17th
September 1915. The card carried on the back this printed text; 'The smokes
with this postcard were supplied to the Tobacco Fund by Martins, Ltd, 210,
Piccadilly, London, W.' The message reads: "Thank you so much for the nice box
of tobacco you sent. (I've just enjoyed a pipe of it.) Jimmie Wayne. Pte.
2nd Royal Irish Fus." RIGHT: Illustrated by an unnamed artist and
printed on blue card the text on the back reads: "This parcel is sent per the
‘Birmingham Gazette’ with Greetings by the well-wisher whose name and address
is on the other side. Will you kindly post this card with a word or two to say
you received the Parcel safely."
LEFT: This smokes acknowledgement card was posted by a member of 18 Brigade at "FIELD POST OFFICE 18" on 15th August 1916. This brigade, together with 16 and 17 formed the 6th Division. The division arrived in France on 9th September 1914 and fought at the Aisne. Other principle battles were Armentieres Oct 1914, the Somme Sep-Oct 1916, Cambrai Nov 1917, Lys Apr 1918. After the Armistice the division entered Germany on 13th December 1918 as part of the Rhineland Occupation Force. The card also carries a CM4 type censor mark. Drawn by Lieutenant Frank Osborne the cartoon was reproduced from the 'B.A.T. Bulletin.' RIGHT: This card, stamped "FIELD POST OFFICE 47" and dated 15th February 1916, was mailed by a member off 47 Brigade, which with 48 and 49 formed the 16th (Irish) Division. Part of the division arrived in France on 18th December 1915 and was completed on 24th February 1916. Principle battles were Somme Sep 1916, Ypres Aug 1917, Somme Mar-Apr 1918. The division suffered heavy casualties and was reduced to a Composite Brigade in Apr 1918 and then acted as a Training Division. The parcel had been sent to the Front by the Countess of Courtown, Gorey, Ireland. The cartoon was "Reproduced by kind permission of the Proprietors of 'London' Punch." The censor mark was number 2249 and type CM4
acknowledgement card was mailed from “BASE POST OFFICE 1" at Have, which was a
main sorting office for all post passing between the Army Postal System and
other postal administrations. The office also forwarded mail in bulk to the
Advanced Base Post Office (A.B.P.O.) for onward transmission. Mail at the Base
Post Office (B.P.O.) was checked, weighed and handed to the censor. If not
already sorted, it was sorted into categories corresponding to army branches.
For example, the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Army Medical Corps and
Infantry etc. Each category was then
sorted into units. There were also lists at the B.P.O. for the redirection of mail.
Bagged and labelled letters and cards was then sent to an (A.B.P.O.) for onward
transmission. Note the return address of the card. Private W. Mason sent this message to the sender, "Dear Sir, Received your most wonderful gifts today for which I thank you very much they are most acceptable. Thank you again for your kindness." RIGHT: This card carries a “FIELD POST OFFICE 9” date stamp
of 28th February 1915 and a type CM4 censor mark - number 1563. The date stamp
was that of 9 Brigade which together with 7 and 8 made up the 3rd Division. Principle
battles: Mons Aug 1914 (and retreat), Marne
Sep 1914, Aisne Sep 14, La Bassee Nov 1914, Somme 3 Jul-Aug 1916, Arras Apr-May 1917, Polygon Wood Sep 1917, Somme Mar 1918, Lys Apr 1918. The division entered Germany on 11th December
1918 as part of the Rhine Army. Private J. R. Newton wrote, “Dear Miss Baines, I received the tobacco and
cigarettes quite safe for which I thank you very much. I am sure all the men
out here appreciate them very much and at the same time wishing that we could
thank you personally for same.”
Concerns about Health and Tobacco
The distribution of free cigarettes was not
without controversy. On 3rd October 1916 a letter appeared in The Times sent by
an enlightened but worried Sir Thomas Fraser, in which he questioned the wisdom of sending huge
quantities of free cigarettes to the men at the front. He wrote, "It is fully recognized by medical men that
excessive smoking is injurious. It disorders the functions of the nervous and
digestive systems and perhaps more emphatically of the heart and blood
vessels…Is it, therefore, an actual kindness so indiscriminately and profusely
to supply tobacco our gallant troops, and by so doing actually to encourage and
further the habit of excessive smoking?"
Sir Thomas was also worried that young soldiers who had never used
cigarettes before joining the army were now becoming seasoned smokers because
of the free distribution by Tobacco Funds. However, he relented a little, by
saying "Entire deprivation is not called for", but went on, "tobacco
distribution should be regarded as a ration. It should no longer be permissible
to supply it indiscriminately by independent organisations or private friends,
but only by them under official supervision, guided by the medical
This picture postcard also expressed the danger of tobacco - albeit in a humorous way. It was printed and published by J. Salmon.
Nevertheless, many more picture postcards expressed the 'benefits' of smoking than the dangers of doing so.
For example, the three featured below express the idea that smoking a
pipe, cigarette or cigar would make you worry less, smile more and
experience a feeling of well-being.
The talented artist Reg Maurice was responsible for these three postcard illustrations. The card on the left was number 2206 in "The REGENT Series." The centre card was number 582 in the "Wit & Wisdom Series." and posted from Croydon on 26th June 1916. The card on the right was another in "The REGENT Series" and released by the Regent Publishing Co., Ltd., London and was number 2117.
4th October, the day after Sir Thomas Fraser's letter condemming the use of tobacco, appeared in The Times, Evelyn
Wrench, the Hon. Organiser of the The Overseas Club, replied to it "with some amazement"
and said, "On behalf of one of 'the praiseworthy
organizations' referred to…may I put the opposite point of few…The prevention
of over smoking by individuals may surely left to military discipline…and it is
in the hope of preventing any diminution in the supply that I am moved to write
The 'Honorable Organiser' gave the names of newspapers and journals,
which The Overseas Club had collaborated with, in raising £165,000 from
generous subscribers "for our men both in the Army and the Navy."
experience had taught the club that the average soldier would sooner go without
any other luxury than ‘a fag’ and there was some truth in this. Every week from
the Front, commanding officers, army chaplains and even officers in the Royal Army
Medical Corps sent hundreds of letters to the club "testifying to the soothing
affect of the parcels of tobacco and cigarettes we forward."
Lieut.-Col. Steven wrote from Mesopotamia, "In this land where nothing is
locally procurable but flies! Presents of this sort are like manna from
heaven." Australian Lieut. Alan Hutton wrote; "The stuff came along just at
the right time - after we had just had our turn in the attack - and is very
heartily appreciated by all ranks."
Second Lieutenant C. Witcombe, Gloucester
Regiment, wrote from France; "I only wish you could see my men standing around
our company quartermaster-sergeant as he opens the case; their eyes are 'all
on' the box, I can assure you."
Major W. Mitchell, 2nd Divisional Train,
France, seemed to answer the critics, of whether or not to send free smokes to
the troops; "They appreciate it more than words can tell, and nothing you can
send them is more welcome."
Performers lend a hand with Tobacco Fund-raising
During the summer of 1916, unscrupulous tricksters forced the government
to introduce the War Charities Act, which was to provide for the registration
of charities connected with the war. It was now an offense to, "Make any appeal to the public for donations
or subscriptions in money or in any kind to any war charity…or to attempt to
raise money for any such charity by promotion, any bazaar, sale, entertainment
or exhibition, or by any similar means, unless the charity is registered under
the act…Any person guilty of an offense against this act shall be liable on
summery conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, or imprisonment
with or without hard labor for a term not exceeding three months." The sale of fund-raising postcards seems to have come within the
confines of the act.
Miss Cissie Lupino was featured on the card on the left. The Performer issued a publicity postcard telling of its
tobacco fund, and considered it prudent to issue the following statement; "The
Performer Tobacco Fund is a branch of the newspaper's Patriotic Fund, which is
approved by the War Office and licensed by the War Charities Act 1916." The
announcement went on to say that "nearly all the leading artistes are selling
their photographs through 'The Performer' Tobacco Fund, you can make a souvenir
collection." The postcards could be acquired in bulk lots: "5/- will buy a
collection of 20 "artists…£5 will buy a collection of 500 artists, every one
different." Collectors were told that every 1/- spent on the postcards would
buy 3/6 worth of cigarettes for the troops. Collectors were further informed
that "The military authorities…have kindly undertaken to collect and deliver
the parcels to the men-at-the-front free of charge." The cards were printed in
sepia and showed a head and shoulders portrait of the artist, framed by a
square or oval border and a tablet bearing the performer’s signature. Each one
was numbered in the bottom right hand corner, prefixed by the letter 'P'. For example, card
No. P499 carried a photograph of Douglas Munro and in addition, informed the collector that "Mr.
Douglas Munro is selling his photograph for the benefit of the brave
men-at-the-front…and one of these photographs is enclosed in each parcel to
liven up a Dug-out." Would Mr Munro's picture have livened up a dug-out? Miss Cissie Lupino's photograph may have!
It was not
only soldiers and civilians who enjoyed the contents of a cigarette
packet. Many children did too - but for a different reason.
A cigarette card was usually inserted into each packet and they were
eagerly collected by children. Many subjects featured on these cards and one
that was extremely popular during the 1914-1918 war, was a set of fifty
cards produced by W. D. & H. O Wills. It was titled 'Military Motors.' However, there were two distinct versions of the set. The first was captioned along the bottom edge of the cards "PASSED FOR PUBLICATION BY THE PRESS CENSOR. 21-9-16."
The second version did not carry the caption. On the back of each card
was a full description of the vehicle featured on the front. The vehicles were British and French.
Black Cat ww1 Cigarette Cards
The tobacco company Carreras Ltd., produced an interesting set of cigarette cards which it inserted in its Black Cat cigarette packets. The images thereon were based on the wartime cartoons of the extraordinary Dutch artist Louis Raemaekers, .
In 1916, Charles Vivian looking
at this cartoon wrote, "Some neutrals, and even some of the people
here in England, still doubt the reality of the German atrocities in Belgium,
but Raemaekers has seen and spoken with those to whom the scene depicted in this
cartoon is an ugly reality. One who understands it to the full must visualise
the hands behind the thrusting rifle butts, and the aces behind the hands, as
well as the praying, maddened, despairing women of the picture - and must visualise too, the men thrust back
another way, to await their fate…" Vivian said that the Dutchman’s pencil had
only caught a far-off echo of the reality of the scene and the picture was
another stage removed from the full horror that he drew. Not for us in England
he said, but for others, "men to the right, women to the left."
This advertisement, featuring Raemaekers war cartoon cigarette cards, appeared in The Times on 18th October 1916.
This card depicted the aftermath of a Zeppelin raid on Paris.
In the drawing "the artist has assembled for us in a few living figures all the
actors in the incident", said Clive Holland in 1916. "The dead woman, the
orphaned child…the bereaved workman…the stern faces of the Sergents de
ville…and in the background other sergents, the lines of whose backs convey in
a marvellous manner and with a touch of real genius the impression of tender
solitude for the injured they are tending."
Released in 1916, there were 140 cards in the Raemaekers set and unlike most of the artists postcards, which were produced in sepia or black and white, these cigarette cards were all in colour.
The English caption on this postcard reads, “400
MILLIONS WAR TAX AND SOUP THROWN IN.” In December 1914, Germany ordered Belgium
to pay her 480 million francs over the next twelve months. At the same time, "Every inhabitant of Belgium [would be] allowed a pint of soup a day and a
loaf of brown bread." The above was typical of the irony which Raemaekers
frequently displayed in his cartoons.
Children's Efforts to Help the Tobacco Funds
British school children composed verses during the war to help various charity funds and their efforts were often printed onto postcards. Others would use their artistic skills and paint or draw a patriotic scene (Usually the flags of the Allies and a rousing slogan.) onto a blank postcard and sell it for a penny to fund their favorite charity. A young artists effort can be see on the left, "FOR THE SOLDIERS' TOBACCO FUND." The colours are as bright as the day they were painted a hundred years ago.
British schoolchildren contributed to
the war effort in ways other than designing and painting fund raising postcards. For example, a few weeks before Christmas 1915,
the ‘Over-seas Club’ launched an appeal aimed at the children of Britain. It
invited each of them to take at least one penny to school, where their teachers
would set up collection points. The money collected would go to providing
parcels of tobacco and cigarettes and other comforts, “so that everyone of our
brave soldiers and sailors will be happy on Christmas day.” said a publicity
leaflet. The appeal was a great success and each child was given a colourful certificate
bearing his/her name – to show that they had contributed to the ‘Penny Fund’.
The Club had already had an appeal that year - on Empire Day, when it also awarded a certificate to participants. In 1916, in the days leading up to Empire Day and Christmas Day the Over-seas Club repeated the appeal.
Letters to The Times, which expressed opinions both for and against the
'free smokes for the troop’s campaign’ continued to land on the editor's desk. However, those who agreed with Sir Thomas Fraser were outnumbered and Tobacco Funds
and the use of tobacco by servicemen continued to thrive.
A few more ww1 Tobacco related Picture Postcards
LEFT: Released by The Regent Publishing Co., Ltd., this card was number 2751. Reg Maurice was the artist. CENTRE: The Corona Publishing Company, Blackpool, England, released this card. It it was number 1143 in the 'Regal Series.' The artist did not sign the picture. A message on the reverse reads, "Dear Uncle Tom, I helped Mr Lawrence back to the station with his kit bag but I would rather help you with yours...Kisses from Kate." RIGHT: This card was published by the "Art and Humour Publishing Co., Limited, Chancery Land, London. W.C. It was number 1018 in the "A & H 'Topical Tickles' Series."
LEFT: A convalescent soldier enjoys a cigarette. "This is the time we have longed to come true, when we're together dear, just I and you." says the caption. The card was number 5122 in the ''Philco Series'. A message in the 'stamp box' encouraged people to "INVEST in Government Securities." RIGHT: "Boys of the Bulldog Breed!" A sailor and soldier light their cigarettes. J. Salmon of Sevenoaks, printed and published the card.
LEFT: "Every 6d. will gladden the Heart of a HERO." says this fund raising postcard from the Weekly Dispatch Tobacco Fund. "The only possible happiness we can give them is something to smoke." says the message. CENTRE: "THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A CIGARETTE TO MAKE A SOLDIER SMILE!" says this card and it also encouraged the recipient of it to respond with a letter. Published by 'W. & F. London' it was from Series No. 3670 F. RIGHT: "KEEP SMILING!" with a reference to matches, this card was printed and published by J. Salmon. 'Elsia' mailed the card on 30th October 1918 to 'Miss E. Betts who lived in Warwick.
The never ending demand by soldiers for tobacco and cigarettes, perhaps inspired the artist of this card to encourage donors to the tobacco funds to "send along some woodbines about as big as this! The card was by 'C. P. C. ' in 'Series 404.' RIGHT: A card from the "LEST WE FORGET" FUND. Perhaps sent to donors to the fund as a thank you from postal workers.
Agustus John and "Three on a match"
image on a card from the fund-raising Daily Mail Official War Pictures series -
captioned "A "FAG" AFTER A FIGHT" - later became famous when the popular
artist Augustus John based a drawing on it.
A "FAG" AFTER A FIGHT. Daily
Mail card number 11 from Series 2, released in 1916. The caption on the back reads, "Before
battle, in battle, and after battle our "Tommies" are ready for a fag." These men are lighting up after a scrap". The caption implies the men
had just come out of a fight, but the houses, trees and road in the picture all
appear untouched by shellfire. The action they had taken part in was probably a
long way behind them. In the front line 'three to a match' was a dangerous habit.
Two soldiers just might use one match to light their cigarettes, but if the
match stayed alight any longer, an enemy sniper might just have time to take
aim on the third man.
Titled "FRATERNITY" this postcard depicted Agustus John's version of the image on the Daily Mail card. The card was issued by the Imperial War Museum - probably post war
& Co, Ltd. of Holmfirth, England and New York, also got in on the
act of promoting the tobacco habit with the release of a three-card set
in their popular song card series. The set was titled "SMOKE CLOUDS."
The verse on card number one reads, "I think we are sometimes inclined to forget, What we owe to the puff of just one cigarette, Its a wonderful friend to a poor tired soul, And it helps one to think life's not bad on the whole."
protests against the use of tobacco by medical men and others, the supply of free or cheap
cigarettes and tobacco to the troops continued, and was for them, one of the
'comforts' of trench life.
Soldiers carried their cigarettes around in a
tin, safe and dry in a tunic pocket and frequently shared with comrades, as
seen on the Daily Mail card illustrated above. A British corporal Jack Turner,
composed verses singing the praises of cigarettes - he called it 'FAGS'. The
poem was used on show-cards advertising 'MURAD' Turkish cigarettes and the last line
summed up the soldiers feeling about tobacco: "We can do without a lot of things
and still win out, you bet, But I'd hate to think of soldiering without a