Smoking Bad For Me, Never!

ww1 three postcards encouraging smoking

The talented artist Reg Maurice was responsible for these three postcard illustrations. The card on the left was number 2206 in “The REGENT Series.” The center card was number 582 in the “Wit & Wisdom Series.”and posted from Croydon on 26th June 1916. The card on the right was another in “The REGENT Series”and released by the Regent Publishing Co., Ltd., London and was number 2117.

On 4th October, the day after Sir Thomas Fraser’s letter condemning the use of tobacco, appeared in The Times, Evelyn Wrench, the Hon. Organizer of the The Overseas Club, replied to it“with some amazement” and said,On behalf of one of ‘the praiseworthy organizations’ referred to…may I put the opposite point of few…The prevention of over smoking by individuals may surely left to military discipline…and it is in the hope of preventing any diminution in the supply that I am moved to write this letter.”

The ‘Honorable Organiser’ gave the names of newspapers and journals, which The Overseas Club had collaborated with, in raising £165,000 from generous subscribers “for our men both in the Army and the Navy.”

Two years experience had taught the club that the average soldier would sooner go without any other luxury than ‘a fag’ and there was some truth in this. Every week from the Front, commanding officers, army chaplains and even officers in the Royal Army Medical Corps sent hundreds of letters to the club “testifying to the soothing affect of the parcels of tobacco and cigarettes we forward.”

For example, Lieut.-Col. Steven wrote from Mesopotamia, “In this land where nothing is locally procurable but flies! Presents of this sort are like manna from heaven.” Australian Lieut. Alan Hutton wrote; “The stuff came along just at the right time – after we had just had our turn in the attack – and is very heartily appreciated by all ranks.”

Second Lieutenant C. Witcombe, Gloucester Regiment, wrote from France; “I only wish you could see my men standing around our company quartermaster-sergeant as he opens the case; their eyes are ‘all on’ the box, I can assure you.”

Major W. Mitchell, 2nd Divisional Train, France, seemed to answer the critics, of whether or not to send free smokes to the troops; “They appreciate it more than words can tell, and nothing you can send them is more welcome.

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