Looking for relatives

Royal Mail is looking for the descendants of men who served in the GPO’s own regiment, the Post Office Rifles, during the First World War.

Relatives are being asked to get in touch and share their stories of how their ancestors contributed to the war effort.

More than 75,000 men from the GPO fought in the war, including 12,000 men who fought with the Post Office Rifles.

In addition, Royal Mail is also calling on owners of a Princess Mary Gift Box to come forward with their stories of how the box came to be in their possession.

In October 1914, the Christmas Gift Fund was launched by Princess Mary, the 17-year-old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The purpose was to provide everyone wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914 with a ‘gift from the nation’.

The result was the production of an embossed brass box, which contained a Christmas card and a picture of the Princess along with gifts. Servicemen who were smokers received a pipe, an ounce of tobacco, cigarettes and a tinder lighter. Non-smokers received a packet of sweets and a writing case with pencil, paper and envelopes.

An image of a Princess Mary Gift Box appears in the first of a landmark series of Special Stamps that will be issued each year from 2014 to 2018 to commemorate the First World War.

Andrew Hammond, director of stamps and collectables, said: “As well as their stories, we would also love to hear from people who have been handed down through the generations, a Princess Mary Gift Box. There were a great number of these delivered by postal workers to service personnel and it would be wonderful to hear where the boxes have been for the past 100 years.”

Those wishing to share their stories can get in touch by writing to Natasha Ayivor, First World War Campaign, Royal Mail, 3rd Floor, 100 Victoria Embankment, London, EC4Y 0HQ, e-mail groupcommspr@royalmail.com, or telephone 07436 280002.