Online tour 1 - Home before Christmas

This part of the museum brings the story of the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914.

object 1: French uniform (MZ 00909, MZ 01025, MZ 00908, MZ 07146)

French military uniforms in 1914, like this French officer of the Régiment d’Infanterie 135, still look as they did back in the days of Napoleon: with bright red trousers and a blue tunic. The link with the French flag, the tricolore, is obvious. Back in the 19th century bright-coloured uniforms were ubiquitous and a necessity, as the great amounts of smoke produced by musket and cannon salvos with gunpowder made it difficult for soldiers to see each other on the battlefield otherwise. But the trench warfare and use of modern weaponry which produces no smoke in 1914 make camouflage more important.


Object 2: Tea set (MZ 01035)

This basket with the British tea set expresses perfectly the feeling British soldiers have when they leave for the front: it’s only going to be a short-lived adventure. Afterwards they can sip a cup of tea on the battlefield and be home for Christmas. Many 1,000s enthusiastically volunteer for military service, eager for adventure. But the Great Picnic becomes the Great War. (MMP1917, MZ 01035)


Object 3: PrincessMaryTin (MZ 05181)

Princess Mary, the only daughter of the British king George V, was 17 years old when the Great War began. In November 1914 she was responsible for the organization of the Soldiers and Sailors Christmas Fund. The aim was to provide the British soldiers with a festive Christmas gift. Every British soldier in active military service abroad received a brass tin. Depending to their rank or unit the content was different. For officers, the 'Princess Mary Tin' contained a pipe, lighter, twenty cigarettes and tobacco. Nurses received chocolate, while non-smokers and other ranks were given sweets and a pencil shaped like a bullet. For Indian troops, the pencil was replaced by herbs. In addition, each box contained a Christmas card. (MMP1917, MZ 05181)obj3