WW2 Cigarettes

Discussion in 'General' started by marcus69x, May 23, 2007.

  1. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Talking to my mate last night about standard issue cigarettes in WW2. We both said that Lucky Strike were standard among US troops ( correct me if I'm wrong), But we wondered what the British smoked. Anyone know?
  2. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

    Players were probably the most common.

    And the Camel were distributed in equal numbers to US troops (and may have been more)
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    But we wondered what the British smoked. Anyone know?

    Whatever we could get !

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  4. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

    oh, nearly forgot Woodbines
  5. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Dad always remembered, I think 'Victory' ciggies, especially during the desert war. Reckons they were evil but better than nothing,
  6. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    I know Ambrose described them as 'a little bit of tobacco and an ungodly amount of straw'.
  7. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

    Yes, I've read accounts where soldier's referred to the filling as camel dung - ironic really considering Camel cigs were really popular.

    I've also read that soldiers often complained that whereas they got what they were given (hence of debateable quality), the officers recieved better quality from home.

    Maybe Sapper and Ron could tell us if this was a common complaint.
  8. spidge


    From the BBC website.

    The packaging of cigarettes had to be cut to the minimum during the war; there were no more cardboard packets, they reverted to printed-paper packets with no closed tops either on the smaller brands like Woodbines, Player’s Weights and Park Drive. Joining these towards the end of the war was a Turkish brand called ‘Pasha’, it was rumoured amongst the younger element that these were made from camel dung, well they certainly smelt like it, and another cheap brand called ‘Turf’ hit the shelves. The larger cigarettes, that we could never afford; were Players Navy Cut, Craven ‘A’, Senior Service, Gold Leaf, Piccadilly and Four Square and quite a few more. Stuck on the side of a packet of 20 Four Square was a small gift pack of four cigarettes, the printing read “Four for a friend?”
    The variety was greatly increased when the American Forces (The Yanks) as they were called, started throwing them around as gifts. Amongst the many odd sounding brand names were Lucky Strike — Camel — Marlboro’ and Pall Mall. The way the Yank’s opened their packs was unique, by tearing about a half inch square off the top right hand corner they revealed four cigarettes. When the packet was tapped on the other hand a cigarette jumped up about an inch, this would then be placed between the lips whilst the packet was lowered, leaving the cigarette ready for lighting. We gang members thought this was very swish but when we tried it with our packs; too many fell on the ground so we gave up this ‘looking swish lark’.
    All through her life Auntie Babs smoked DuMaurier; the pack design was never changed, it was a light red coloured flat box with a flip lid. During the war of course she couldn’t always obtain them, so she smoked anything she could get hold of including Craven A, and Black Cat, the ones she frowned on previously.
  9. spidge


  10. spidge


  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Maybe Sapper and Ron could tell us if this was a common complaint

    As I remember it , in Italy at least, we got 50 cigarettes a week known as "army issue" these came in a sealed cylindrical tin and were not branded but were of reasonable quality.
    In addition, one was allowed to purchse what was referred to as NAAFI issue and this was usually about 200 per week.
    In addition my old air raid wardens post would send me, once a month, about 100 Players or Senior Service.
    In addition, my Dad, G-d rest his soul would send me the odd parcel with about 100 cigaretes.
    All in all, we smoked ourselves to death long before anyone knew or even thought about anyone getting cancer !
  12. southern geordie

    southern geordie Junior Member

    cigarettes and cards'
    Thank you for the reminder of my mis-spent childhood. Pre-war smokers (like today) threw their empty packets where-so-ever they chose. As a child, I spent many hours seeking those discarded packages. A very high proportion still contained the cards inside of them. Occasionally, we children, ventured to ask smoking, strangers "Gorr-eny fag cards mister"'? On rare occasions a nice man would search his pockets and present me with about half a set of beautiful clean cards. On the other hand, we ran the risk of getting a kick up the rear, for annoying certain miserable beggers. It was described by some to be the 'poor man's encyclopoedia' during the 'Great Depession' of the 1920-30s and also as a means of providing 'public information' (as shown by Spidge's Excellent illustations above). That was, up until the actual outbreak of hostilities, when paper shortages brought an end to the cigarette card issues. I still hold a fascination for them. I do believe that the cards started by being used as "stiffeners", and advertisers saw the pomotional advantages of printing interesting subjects on them to increase 'brand loyaly'.
    Southern Geordie.
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  13. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

  14. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Back to lucky strike. Bought a packet last night. Not too bad I thought. A little fact I've just learnt too: The packaging used to be green and gold. Then in 1942 the manufacturers changed the packet to red and white, as the green contained copper and the gold contained bronze, both needed to help the war effort.
  15. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

  16. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    My father kept a listing of the cigarettes he received when he was a P.O.W. These were sent by friends and relatives. He received his first parcel 7th May 1944. Almost eight months after he was shot down.

    The parcels arrived frequently for a few months. At this time he was at Stalag Luft 6. During the time frame he was getting the parcels Stalag Luft 6 was at Heydekrug, Thorn and Fallingbostel.

    He was to receive no more cigarette parcels from home after 25 October 1944. Cigarettes were included in Red Cross Parcels when these were available.

    Attached Files:

  17. Jim Clay

    Jim Clay Member

    Fascinating document, David! Thanks very much for sharing. (Rothmans & Pall Mall - hmm, luxury! But Players again & again - they seem to have been the accepted 'standard')

  18. Richard1976

    Richard1976 Junior Member

    Dear Mr Goldstein, Sorry to reply on a very old topic. But whatever you could get, does this also mean that you smoked local brands of cigarettes? Not only British or American brands, but also local brands from the countries where you were at that time?

    Thank you for your reply.
  19. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    According to Spike Milligan and others, they were often said to be made from camel shit.
  20. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    My father often comes up with stuff - his memory of Nov '43 south of the Sangro river:

    "..a large staff car drew up. The little general at the back responded to our salutes and called us over. It was Monty again and he handed over a large parcel. ‘Share these among the chaps,’ he said. We discovered that the parcel contained 5,000 Gallaher’s Blue Label cigarettes which would give the men in forward positions an extra day’s ration of seven cigarettes. I used to boast: ‘The last time I spoke to Monty, he gave me 5,000 cigarettes.’”

    When I came along 20 years later, my Dad was a 20 a day Senior Service man...
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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