Feeding an army

Opinions varied as to the food provided to our soldiers at Witley Camp, but unsurprisingly, complaints were the more common reaction.

After all, as Archie Wills remarked, “When a man was good for nothing else they made him a cook. Some of them couldn’t even mix the KLIM, the powdered milk of that day.”(1)

William Calder told his mother that “the grub here is awful I can hardly eat it & there is not enough.” (2)

“Bob said … he tells his folks in every letter that the grubb is simply abombible. He says that the bread is not fit to eat and that he will starve before he will eat herring and the bacon is to fat.”  (3) So reported Laurie Cunningham — who left school at the age of 12 — to his mother, but his own opinion was rather different.

“There is just not a word of truth in it. … Well the bread is made of a portion of soft wheat flour so it is heavier than our bread but I would sooner have it than our bread because it stays with a fellow and it has a sweet taste that you can wrelish, I can sit and eat dry bread and be enjoying it as much as I ever would canadian bakers bread and botten butter.

“I did not eat the kippers for a long time but it was just a notion I eat them now and like them the porridge is just plain oat meal with sugar in it and I havent eaten much of it since I hit here because I have had enough bacon, potatoes bread and margerine, and I have a jar of jam all the time.[He bought his own supply of jam for 20 cents a week.]

“We have some great feeds though that I surely enjoy and I never go away from the table with out eating untill I am uncomfortable, and this is something I dident do once a week in canada on the choicest grub I could find.”  (3)

(1) Wills, Archie. “My Life in the Army”. 8. Volume 6 of All in a Lifetime, a typescript autobiographyca 1970. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
(2)  Calder, William. Letter to his mother.October 8, 1916. Available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project.
(3) Cunningham, Laurie. Letter to his mother.October 10, 1916. This letter is part of a collection of letters and postcards copyright 2016 by the Cunningham family, made available at http://www.lettersfromthegreatwar.com.

The image is snipped from an advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post, April 10, 1920.

Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”





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