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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 14:52 GMT
Festive gift for British troops
Christmas Box
Around 18,000 troops will receive a festive gift box
UK troops on active duty overseas are set for a festive treat this Christmas.

The Defence Logistics Organisation - part of the Ministry of Defence - is relaunching the special gift boxes which it presented to soldiers in 1914.

They were suggested by King George V's daughter Princess Mary as gifts from the nation for those fighting in WWI.

The boxes included items such as pipes and lighters, but the 2004 versions - being sent to about 18,000 troops - will include games and cameras.

They are also bigger and lighter than the original brass versions which measured only 5in by 3.25in by 1.125in.

A DLO spokesman said: "Unfortunately, being made of cardboard, it is unlikely to become a collector's item, not like the 1914 box which had an embossed head of Princess Mary on the cover, flanked by the bows of battleships and roundels of the Allied nations."

Contents of 1914 box
The original gift boxes contained pipes, cigarettes and bullet pencils

Brigadier Jeff Little, of the DLO, welcomed the opportunity to revive the festive idea from 1914.

He added: "Ninety years ago, the British public showed its support for the UK servicemen and women in a way never before seen in this country.

"The Princess Mary Christmas Box became an institution and by the time the fund closed in 1920 almost 200,000 had been donated for the provision of more than two-and-a-half million boxes with contents.

"Our aim is to ensure that over the Christmas period every member of the Armed Forces taking part in operations will have a 2004 Christmas box in their 'stocking'."

Hoping to be home by Christmas
30 Oct 04 |  Scotland

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