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DateOriginal Topic
14th June 2005Smoking and the A.Z.W.
By L.J.Knight
Could anybody tell me what the Officer's and men smoked during those times,im aware that this topic maybe be regarded as trivial and certainly un p.c. by some, but as an heavy smoker for over 40 years (im 51) i would like to know what the men were actually smoking, ie. ordinary ranks long stemmed pipes,any word on the tobbaco used,brands? ect, officer's..cigerillo's, cheroots,brands? and were tailored cigerettes as we know them available then. cancer is a terrible natural desease it must have been even more horrendous back in thier day, ie, liet,col, was his cancer atribitable to his habit of smoking his pipe,sorry if this is a tad morbid.regards to all L.J.Knight
14th June 2005Michael Boyle

It seems many of the ORs smoked pipes (short stem clay from the looks of it in contemporary illustrations) but apparently because of this officers were limited to cigars (various brands and types), in the mess at least, according to Byron Farwell's "Mr.Kipling's Army" (beer was also proscribed for officers in the mess). Cigarettes were also around seeming to have been introduced in Britain at the time of the Napoleanic Wars. (The Spanish had been smoking them for over fifty years then). The first cigarette factory started in Britain in 1856 by a returning Crimean War vet (Robert Golag in Walworth) so I suppose ready-mades were available but I can't recall reading any reference to their use in the AZW, bulk tobacco being easier to transport.

As you pointed out Chard died from, I believe, tongue cancer (which must have been a particulary horrendous way to go then) from smoking a pipe so perhaps restrictions were regimentally based.


14th June 2005Sean Sweeney
I believe that the prevalence of smoking amongst the troops showed a marked increase after the Crimean War, with returning soldiers also sporting facial hair, and smoking pipes of all shapes and descriptions, as photographs show, which I assume was previously either not encouraged, or actively discouraged. They had also been introduced to smoking cigarettes by the Turks, hence the demand created in England. Cigarette mnfrs at that time were Gloag, Phillip Morris, Benson and Hedges, and Wills amongst others. Veterans had also learned to 'hand-roll' in the Crimea, which they obviously passed on to the new recruits.
Snuff was still popular with the locals.
(My Afrikaaner family and some of the older Africans were still regularly taking snuff around me in the '50's and '60's).
(Officer's wives were also known to smoke the odd cigar, i.e. Fanny Duberly in the Crimea)
Sean Sweeney
15th June 2005L.J.Knight
Michael,sean,thanks for your speedy replies which i have printed off so i can look at them at my liesure, im hoping to get on a social history course at my local polly.(time permitting) and i hope to tie in your resposes to a project i am currently involved in, cheers..L.J.Knight
15th June 2005Peter Ewart

I had understood cigarettes had appeared only towards the very end of the 19th century, so I've learnt something there. Thanks.

I would think, however, that claypipe-smokers among the rank & file in 1879 would still exceed cigarette smokers by some considerable measure and probably for some time yet - although, if "Pack up your Troubles" is anything to go by, the fag had certainly taken over well before 1914, and this is undoubtedly confirmed by photos and contemporary accounts.

Factors which steered the change from claypipe to cigarette for the rank & file might have been (a) overseas experience/exotic climes, (b) what was available in barracks or on active service (c) adopting the changing habits of comrades or (d) whether the manufacturers and advertisers were particularly "pushing" fags to the soldiery (in the way that, for example, Player's "Navy Cut" would perhaps encourage the sailor). I suppose the Woodbine was certainly identified with the Tommy of 14-18.

The influence & habits of civilian life can't be disregarded. Just as time-expired soldiers brought military habits back with them into civvy life, so the labouring fraternity would have retained the habits of their social class or region.

The rural labourer was certainly still a very busy pipe-smoker in the second half of the 19th century and, like all new products, the cigarette would have been familiar in the city long before the country men made them a habit. Outlying areas still depended to an extent on itinerant hawkers flogging anything gimmicky. Clay pipes were certainly being manufactured well into the 20th century (I'd thoroughly recommend the claypipe museum in the Ironbridge Museum complex, Shropshire).

Incidentally, we've found plenty of old claypipes (always broken, of course) in our garden over the last 15 years, mostly only an inch or so under the surface. We have collected hundreds of stem fragments and a dozen or so bowls, dating from Victorian & Georgian times but even from the 17th century too - not long after Raleigh was supposed to have brought the idea over from the new World in the first place!

Not at all trivial or inappropriate, LJ, but very interesting and relevant in my humble opoinion. After all, we discuss what they ate, what they wrote, what they carried and certainly what they wore.