Watford in the First World War - Christmas 1914
This was going to be a Christmas like no other, but there were attempts to make it as festive as possible.
The local newspaper, the Watford Observer, started a campaign to raise money to send cigarettes and tobacco to the soldiers serving overseas: “Tommy’s pockets must be full of smokes on Christmas Day.” People were encouraged to send presents and cards to the regimental headquarters, which could be distributed abroad.
Princess Mary, the daughter of King George V, started a fund which was used to buy tins that were filled with cigarettes or chocolate and distributed to each soldier.
At home, shopkeepers encouraged people to buy early for Christmas, with a reminder that shops were closed earlier than in the past. The annual Christmas Livestock Market took place as usual, Trewins in Queens Road had a Christmas grotto, and the pantomime at the Palace Theatre was Robinson Crusoe.
The local churches laid on Christmas dinners for the soldiers billeted in the town and entertainments were arranged for them and for the children whose fathers were overseas.
Overseas the fighting continued and men went on being wounded and killed. The family of Corporal Thomas Edward Gregory in St James’ Road did not know until January that he had been killed in action on Christmas Day.