In the modern world, where smoking is seen as a socially undesirable thing, it is often easy to forget the central role tobacco had in the lives of nearly all members of the armed forces in every country involved. Indeed tobacco was seen as so important by the British government to morale that they never rationed it (that’s not to say it was easy for civilians to find though!).
The British military took great steps to supply their men and women with their daily allotment of tobacco, both loose and cigarettes. This was supplemented by the work of the NAAFI who sold the most popular brands of the day at a reduced price to service personnel. The following are a representative sample of some of the military tobaccanalia available. These make a nice sub-set to my collection and I am always on the lookout for more to add.
All these boxes are civilian in origin but typical of the paper packets sold at NAAFI shops and civilian tabacconists across Britain. As might be expected most would have been thrown away at the time, however as they were made in their tens of millions they are still easy to find and pretty cheap. The ones I am always looking for, but never seem to find are those with stamps saying ‘Only for sale to HM Forces’ which indicate they were specially made for the military.NAAFI Cigarette Tin
This grey cigarette tin was included in the 14 man ‘compo’ ration issued to troops in the field. The tin contained 50 cigarettes and was designed to be opened and distributed between the men on the battlefield. These are simple grey tins with ‘CIGARETTES’ on the top:
Craven A Cigarette Tin
South African Comforts Committee tin