Saturday, 23 January 2016

Officer’s Life in a German Prison Camp

Sunday 23rd January 1916: Captain Wagstaff of the 1st Bedfordshire Regiment, who is a prisoner in Germany, has written to his relatives in Leighton Buzzard: “Our Christmas here was so different to last year, when we had no parcels and precious little of anything else. A friend 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, Colonel 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 tablecloth and some serviettes for the occasion and the centre was occupied by a large jam pot (concealed), full of artificial carnations on a table centre. It took four people an hour before we found out how to fold the serviettes. It was too amusing to see them at it. The table really looked human again, until the crash came, when the old cutlery came out, black handled three-pronged forks and knives to match, a large and small lead spoon each and a soup plate and one other. But we overlooked that and I can’t thank you enough for the good things we had. 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”.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 11th February 1916

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