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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Tobacco in the Trenches


ericwebb
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Can anyone supply or guide me towards information on cigarettes in the trenches? Price per pack of 20? Were they taxed then? If so, were they tax-free to the forces?

Many thanks,

Eric

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As part of the normal scale of rations, smokers were entitled to 2 ozs. tobacco or cigarettes per week.

Chris Henschke

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Canteens in France were selling 20 Capstan Medium Strength for 10d - for all born since 1971 - thats 5 pee!

Geraint (rapidly disappearing to the back door for a gasper) :rolleyes:

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It sounds ridiculously cheap but is in fact almost a day's wages. 5p was 12 old pennys. ( a shilling) so 10 pennys was just over 4 new pence. ORs were paid a shilling a day. Woodbine would have been cheaper.

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Thanks folks,

In fact 10d is closer to 4p. Interestingly - part of my motive in asking - the price of a pint of beer in 1914 was 4d.

A useful web site 'Measuring Worth' http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/ukcompare/ gives the 2006 value of 10d in 1914 as £2.75, using RPI, but £14.45 using average earnings.

I suppose that puts yesterday's tax rises in context, but it'll be a long time before I think of the Chancellor as 'Darling'!

Eric

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They were free, as they were in WW2 ( When I moaned at my Dad about smoking he would say " They couldnt give us enough", and I was given free fags in Borneo 1965

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The Director General of Voluntary Organisations, which coodinated all charitable aid to the Armed Forces, distributed just under 233 million cigarettes, besides pipe tobacco, during the war. Thus quite a lot was supplied free of charge.

Charles M

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Am I right in thinking Woodbine were known as 'coffin nails'? If so, when did this nickname appear?

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Here's another; price-wise:

Local paper ad 1917

Packet of 5 'Robin' cigarettes for 2d including another two free fags cardboarded to the outside with the strapline "Two for a friend". Fag packet shows picture of Robin Redbreast standing on handle of a spade in a trench!

Slightly different angle - the Players packets showed the picture of a Jack Tar outlined against a battleship - a pre war ship to my novice eye. Was it a Dreadnought?

Geraint (relaxed and cool having finished a good cigar) :rolleyes:

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"'geraint' date='Mar 16 2008, 07:14 PM' post='882599'] Slightly different angle - the Players packets showed the picture of a Jack Tar outlined against a battleship - a pre war ship to my novice eye. Was it a Dreadnought?"

It could well be a Dreadnought. The iconic sailor figure "Hero", according to "Smoking in British Popular Culture 1800-2000" by Matthew Hilton, was first used by Players in 1883 with the lifebuoy surround added in 1888. "Hero" went through several incarnations, young & old, bearded and clean shaven until standardised in 1927 using a design which had first been used in 1905.

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Nigel

Thanks for that! Never knew the Tar was such an iconic representation.

Back to war time ciggies, a hotel landlord from this town, again according to a local newspaper report, was so grateful to his son's mates, who rescued him from no-man's-land, sent 3,200 smokes to the Company every month for the duration of the war! (mid 1917 i believe). Would that number be the amount held in a tea chest or other container? Hate to think how much it cost him; but his son did survive - thanks to those fag happy RWF mates!

Geraint (thinking whether to have another H Winterman or not) ^_^

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16 cartons of 200. About the size of a biscuit tin. It may have been a weight thing. 7lbs or something. I have no idea how heavy a packet of 20 cigarettes was.

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Tom

Presume you refer to the larger loose biscuit tin, such as those found in Maypole and George Mason grocers where biscuits were shovelled from into a paper bag; and not today's Christmasy selection tins! Shall be in the Archives Monday, perusing the cigarette ads!.

Geraint

(having finished said H Winterman and spraying room with sickly perfume smell to avoid b*****ing by Mrs G in the morning.) :(

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