A Little Bit of Peace From Home

Christmas at the Front - Unpacking the Parcels from Home.

Christmas at the Front – Unpacking the Parcels from Home by Fortunino Matania.
(Illustration from The Sphere, 5 January 1919)

Christmas Parcels

The joy delivered to soldiers at the front…a little bit of peace from home. Gathered together they made the most of their day. A little welcome celebration…pooling their newly delivered resources…Tommy, Billy, Robert, James, Jeremy and others…Merry Christmas to all.

Across British Columbia news of parcels and soldiers made their way into the columns across the province.

The Hedley Gazette
Hedley, B.C.
2 December 1915, p. 1

Packing Parcels for
Soldiers at the Front

The public is urged to exercise every care in packing parcels for the troops, as careful packing is absolutely essential to ensure delivery of the parcels in good order.

Parcels sent abroad require a higher standard of packing than is necessary in the Canadian Parcel Post, and this applies with even greater force to parcels for the troops. Those which are immediately packed run great risk of damage or loss of contents.

Thin cardboard boxes, such as shoe boxes and thin wooden boxes, should not be used: nor does a single sheet of ordinary brown paper afford sufficient protection. The following forms of packing are recommended.

(1) Strong double cardboard boxes, preferably those made of corrugated cardboard, and having  lids which completely enclose the sides of the boxes.

(2) Strong wooden boxes.

(3) Several folds of stout packing paper.

(4) Additional security is afforded by an outer covering of linen, calico or canvas, which should be securely sewn up.

The address of parcels should be written in ink on the cover preferably in two places.

The address of the sender of the parcel should also be stated in order that it may be returned if undeliverable. The contents of the parcel should be stated in writing on the cover.


The Prospector
Lillooet, B.C.
24 December 1915, p. 1

The Postmaster General of Canada has been successful, as a result of negotiations entered into with the Imperial Postal Authorities in effecting an arrangement with the British Government whereby parcels from Canada for Canadian soldiers in France and Flanders will be carried at the same rate of postage as applies to parcels from the United Kingdom for the Expeditionary Forces on the Continent.

The public are reminded, however, in accordance with the circular issued by the Department recently, that until further notice, no parcel can be sent weighing over seven pounds.


The Omineca Miner
Hazelton, B.C.
25 November 1916, p. 1

People of Hazelton Send Xmas
Cheer to the Boys in
the Trenches

Christmas parcels to the number of 112 have been sent to Hazelton’s boys in khaki by the Soldier’s Aid, and so far as known, no soldier from the town or vicinity has been overlooked. The committee’s campaign for the Christmas fund is proving successful…

On behalf of our soldiers, the committee extends hearty thanks to the ladies and gentlemen who assisted in the preparation and mailing of parcels, as well as to contributors to the Christmas fund.


The Enderby Press
Enderby, B.C.
25 January 1917, p. 1

How Trench Comforts Contributed
to Happiness of Boys at Front

The ladies of the Enderby Trench Comfort Club are in receipt of the following letters from the boys at the front.

Pte. Victor E. Bogert…”I received your parcel on the 16th December and found everything to be useful, especially the socks and sleeping helmet, and the shoe lace was the very thing I wanted as I had broken one that very day; and the Oxo* was very handy for a cold I have got…I found it appetizing as a beverage and socks were certainly warm, and the handkerchief certainly was a good friend to my nose, and the cigarettes and sweets were very useful as they are scarce in France, and the cakes were a good evening’s enjoyment among the boys of my own billet…”

Lce. Corp. S.H. Allcorn: “Allow me to thank you and the many good friends and contributors for parcel received on the 26th December, which came as a very pleasant surprise and was very much appreciated…It reminded me of good old Enderby…”

Pte. T.M. Dunwoodie: “I am writing to thank you all for the parcel which I received last night. It certainly was a fine one and the cigarettes, tobacco and socks were especially welcome as I just out of the first and home-knit socks are always welcome. The cake and candy and other good things were too good to last long. The other boys in the hut all send their thanks to you and the others who helped to make it up…”

*Oxo was a beef stock cube originally produced in cube form in 1910. During the Great War more than 100,000,000 Oxo cubes were provided to the military.


Bella Coola Courier
Bella Coola, B.C.
10 March 1917, p. 1

Christmas at the Front

The slight sacrifices made by the ladies [W.C.T.U.**] of the valley in sending Christmas parcels to the front has met with such a chorus of thanks from our boys that we know our readers will enjoy the reading of the extracts from their letters…

Only a few lines to let you know that I received the welcome parcel of cake and chocolate on Christmas night. I had given up hope of getting anything that evening when along comes the boys through the trench asking for Sam Grant…I handed it around to some of the boys – Arthur Gothard, Pete Marren, Randolph Saugstad and those that I saw the next day. (Sam Grant)

**Woman’s Christian Temperance Union


 The Islander
Cumberland, B.C.
20 October 1917, p. 1

All those who are sending parcels to soldiers in France should send them immediately if they wish them to arrive by Christmas. Parcels for soldiers in England can be posted up till about 10th of November for delivery by Christmas.


Cranbrook Herald
Cranbrook, B.C.
10 January 1918, p. 3


Pte. W.H. Lewis, No. 931443
“D” Coy., 14th Platoon,
2nd C.M.R.

To Mrs. J.W. Burton, President W.I.***

Dear Madam: – I beg to acknowledge with deepest gratitude the Christmas parcel received by me from our friends in Cranbrook.

You cannot imagine what happiness it creates to have handed to us letters and parcels from those at home. Some poor fellows seem to be overlooked entirely, but I am pleased to say is not my luck.

Again thanking you and your society.

I beg to remain, Madam,
Yours gratefully,
W.H. Lewis

***Women’s Institute


About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


Leave a Reply