20th April 1900. Chocs for the Troops.

Today in 1900 was the date set for the raffle of a tin of chocolate at the Angel Hotel, Redcliff Street, Bristol, which Queen Victoria had sent to all British naval and army forces employed in the Anglo- Boer War.

However it appears that a soldier in the Gloucestershire Yeomanry had promised to give a tin to 23 year old Charles Vincent Matthews, who intended to raffle it off with the proceeds going to the fighting fund. However the box never materialized, despite 1000 tickets having been sold.

The tickets were printed by Chappell’s of Redcliffe Street and sold at 1 shilling, which then, put in the gas meter, would have bought weeks of household lighting and heat.

Matthews, now in a quandary, in mitigation, said he had sold only 12 tickets, but the printer said he was told by Matthews he had sold 660.

He awaited his time in court.


Chocolates for the troops with the Queen’s message on the front. Each maker’s tin was slightly different.

Cadbury’s who received a Royal Warrant in 1854 to supply cocoa and chocolate to the Royal Family were asked to produce the tin of chocolate.

However it wasn’t as simple as it might have been for Richard and George Cadbury, being good Quakers, were pacifists, and didn’t wish to appear to be supporting war.

So they asked other chocolate makers, Joseph Storrs Fry and Joseph Rowntree to be part of  the agreement to supply tins, but with no advertizing. Victoria was not amused as she wished to show the products were British, so a compromise saw the Cadbury name inside the wrapper.

The tin, supplied to NCOs and men, had a monogram ‘VR On the left and South Africa 1900 to the right’, had a picture of the Queen in the middle and a message: ‘I wish you a Happy New Year’, Victoria Regina.

The tins then as now, became collectors’ items and a Daily News reporter tried to buy tins from two soldiers of the Essex Regiment and Royal Horse Artillery for £2, but it appears the offer was refused.

Matthews? : he had his time in court and spent six weeks in gaol, after failing to return his ill-gotten gains, after people demanded their hard-earned money back.

Ref: m.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred. Also Pic Ref.

Ref: medalsofengland.com.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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