Friday, 1 January 2016

Christmas in a German PoW Camp

 Postcard “The Dining Room on Christmas Day”
2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment in Bermuda 1911 [X550/19/34/10]

Saturday 1st January 1916: A Leighton Buzzard family have heard from a relative, Captain Wagstaff of the the 1st Battalion of the Beds Regiment, who has been a prisoner in Germany since 1914. The imprisoned officers have been making the best of their situation and managed to celebrate Christmas in some style:
Our Christmas here was so different to last year, when we had no parcels and precious little of anything else. --- sent me two little Christmas trees, and we had them on Christmas Eve for all the British; there were toys for them, tops and whistles, and we had such fun. We began with hot punch, as we were allowed special 'wine' for the day and that was the best way to drink it. Then the tree was all lit up with candles and then we made a snapdragon with raisins, and we finished with bobbing for apples in a tub of water, Colonels and everyone. It helped us so much. Then we sat round the tree and talked about you all and wondered what you were doing. 
We had our big meal on Christmas evening, a selection of all the best things anyone had in their parcels; we secured a white table cloth and some serviettes for the occasion and the centre was occupied by a large jam pot (concealed) full of artificial carnations ... We managed to get a ten pound turkey through the canteen, cooked in the kitchen by the 'chef' of the biggest hotel in Bordeaux: the chestnut stuffing we made ourselves in the room from a recipe in Pears' Encyclopaedia, rather changed; the rest of the meal was all from parcels. Each of us had a menu with our regimental colours on it. I don't know how we should have got through the day without this to think of and arrange for.
 Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 1st February 1916

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