First World War, 1914-1918
Princess Mary Gift Tin : Sister Lilian Agnes Walter, Australian Army Nursing Service, AIF
Princess Mary Christmas gift tin. The rectangular tin has a hinged lid and is embossed on top with a profile of the Princess surrounded by a wreath. The letter M is embossed on either side of the wreath in cursive script. A decorative border around the lid contains the words 'IMPERIUM BRITTANNICUM' at the top and 'CHRISTMAS 1914' at the bottom. The corners and sides contain the names of Britain's allies between decorations of flags, ships and weapons. The nations represented are, from the top right hand corner, 'JAPAN', 'RUSSIA', 'MONTENEGRO', 'SERVIA', 'FRANCE' and 'BELGIUM'. There are three small dark tarnish marks below the right hand side letter M. One of these marks in in the shape of the letter C.
The Princess Mary's gift tin was the result of special "Christmas Fund' plan initiated by the daughter of King George V, HRH Princess Mary, whereby every soldier and sailor would receive a gift on the first Christmas of the war, in 1914. Each contained various items such as a pipe and tobacco products, pencil, notebook, postcards, a photograph of the Princess or depending on whether the recipient was a non-smoker, a nurse or Sikh, perhaps a tin of spices, fruit lozenges, sugar candy or chocolate. Distribution was slow, and some did not receive their tins until 1920. This tin belonged to Lilian Agnes Walter who was born at Candelo near Bega, New South Wales in 1888. Miss Walter received her Nurse's Certificate from Sydney Hospital in January 1914 and enlisted as a nurse with the Australian Army Nursing Service in June 1915. One month later Sister Walter embarked on HMAT Orsova in Sydney as a reinforcement for 2 Australian General Hospital. She served with that unit for most of the war, but also saw service with 1 Australian Stationary Hospital (Maadi, Egypt), 2, 23 and 26 General Hospitals (France) during 1916 and 1 Australian Auxillary Hospital (Harefield Park, England) in 1918. She returned to Australia in December 1918 and was discharged in March 1919.