Like all the other nations in the Empire, South African troops were supported by a charitable sector in their homeland that supplied troops with little gifts to make their time away from home more bearable. The South African Gifts and Comforts Fund supplied a small tin of cigarettes to troops every Christmas throughout the war and tonight it is the 1943 comforts cigarette tin we are looking at:The tin is printed with a design featuring a springbok (generally regarded as the animal of South Africa), a ‘V’ for victory, the images of the Prime Minister Jan Smuts and his wife and ‘Christmas’ in both English and Afrikaans:The rear of the tin has the details of who had supplied the tin of cigarettes, again in both English and Afrikaans:Inside the tin is printed the signatures of both Jan Smuts and his wife, sadly quite badly damaged in this example:The South African Legion’s website gives more details of the work of the South African Gifts and Comfort Fund:
The South African Gifts and Comforts Fund was a benevolent fund that sought to give comfort and messages of motivation and support from the public in South Africa for all the tens of thousands of South African volunteers who went off to war during World War 2. It was created by Field Marshal Smuts, and administered by his wife “Ouma” Smuts and her “Band” of Voluntary Workers in co-operation with the Quartermaster-general.
Gifts to the servicemen and women during the war reminded them of home comforts and reinforced the moral support they were getting from home in their fight against European tyranny, Especially over times like Christmas when family and “home” became a yearning for anyone enduring the hardships of war. Known as “Glory Bags” at the time, these parcels contained all sorts of reminders from home, Christmas Cake etc. and collectable items such as Christmas anniversary cigarette tins, which became highly popular – stamped with an image of both Jan Smuts and Ouma Smuts and giving good Christmas wishes.