X Ray images of an unopened cardboard box have revealed a mass of Christmas tins sent to British soldiers on the Western Front 100 years ago. During the First World War the tins made in the thousands and shipped of by the Royal Family to soldiers fighting in the trenches over the first Christmas at war in 1914.
A collector, who bought the box at an auction on a hunch, didn’t want to damage the box by opening it so he instead decided to x-ray it, with the scans revealing hundreds of tins stuffed with goodies such as chocolate, cigarettes and sweets.
This one box however never made it to its destination and 100 years later is up for auction for almost £30,000. Sailors and Soldiers Christmas Fund, a nationwide appeal for donations organised by King George V’s Daughter Princess Mary funded the cost of the five-inch tins.
Onlsows Auction House representative Patrick Bogue commented:
“With Christmas 1914 approaching, George V’s Daughter Princess Mary came up with the idea for a fund which would pay for presents for soldiers and sailors fighting on the front line. She wanted to do her bit and the campaign was very successful. This box was found in Ireland but we don’t know anymore about its history. It is amazing to think that these tins have remained undisturbed for 100 years.”
More than 355,000 tins were sent to troops in 1914 alone. Due to the pressures put on the postal service, some soldiers did not receive theirs until 1916.
Mystery surrounds the box that is now up for sale, purchased by a collector of World War One memorabilia. The collector suspected that the box contained Christmas tins inside so had an x-ray taken to find out for sure.
On 28 June, Lady Emma Kitchener, Great Grand-Niece of military great Lord Kitchener will open the box for the first time at the Chalke Valley History Festival in Wiltshire.
Portions of the proceeds from the sale of the tins will be donated to a services charity.
Chalke Valley History Festival runs from June 23rd to 29th.