Saturday, 10 December 2016


A war that was supposed to be over by Christmas 1914 is now approaching its third Christmas of fighting. 

A Princess Mary Gift Fund Box
As we celebrate Christmas 2016 surrounded by family and friends try and remember what it must have been like for those employees’ miles from home in a foreign land and trying to exist in the trenches in freezing temperatures.

Christmas to most people is a season of excess, with coloured lights displayed everywhere you go and buying presents for loved ones with plenty to eat and drink.

Back in 1916 it was the simple pleasures that the soldiers craved for, a letter or post card from home and a parcel or gift box containing little mementoes to take ones mind off the awful conditions experienced by many in the trenches.

One of these gifts sent to the troops was a small metal box. The Princess Mary Gift Fund Box was an embossed brass box that originally contained a variety of items such as tobacco and chocolate. It was intended as a Christmas present to those serving at Christmas in 1914 and was paid for by a public fund backed by Princess Mary.

Attached is a photo of this box which is part of my WW1 collection

Another way for people to keep in touch was with the use of postcards.The embroidered silk postcard was a common souvenir of the First World War.

Silk postcard
The embroidered postcards were very popular with British soldiers who often sent them home. They were sold in thin paper envelopes but were seldom sent through the post as they were too fragile and, more particularly, they represented quite an investment – they were not cheap souvenirs.  Usually they were mailed with letters.

 For this reason, they are often unwritten, with no marks on the back, any message having been sent in an accompanying letter.

Attached is a photo of a silk postcard showing the flags of the combatant nations from my own WW1 collection.

1916 would go down as a terrible year for casualties amongst the Tramways employees.  To date my research has uncovered information on at least 89 MCT employees who lost their lives during this period.

So as we celebrate Christmas 2016 spare a thought for the employees of Manchester Corporation Tramways who 100 years ago struggled to survive.


©Martin Logan, 2016

Pictures; from the collection of Martin Logan

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