This rather battered photograph (1) of a mess hall shows places set with what look like upturned shallow bowls, with a pile of serving dishes at the end of the table. It suggests that the wits of Witley were being truthful when they recorded:
“The following notice has been posted up in the mess room: ‘In order to prevent the men from carrying away the napkins and silverware from the tables, none will be put on.’ (2)
The quality of camp grub provided a topic for poets as well as ironic observers:
We’ve substituted corn for wheat
And pallid cottage cheese for meat;
With nobly simulated zeal
We chew the dull potato peel;
We’ve tested every new disguise
For making rice a glad surprise.
And never throw a bit away,
But mingle all in queer puree. (3)
Like the notice above, this bit of verse was published under “Camp News” in the first issue of a newspaper published by and about the 160th Battalion, from Bruce County, Ontario, during its occupation of Witley Camp.
The same issue printed the following lament:
“By the way would some kind, well meaning person ask the Chaplain to refrain from mentioning eats in the mess hall. He described a meal the other Sunday morning in such a realistic manner that quite a few broke out into a cold sweat. Maybe it is all right at times but not after pork and beans.” (4)
(1) Stratton, Charles Roy. Postcard. Available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project.
(2) Bruce in Khaki. 1.1. (October 12, 1917). 8. The note appeared under the heading “Hut Scrapings.”
(3) Bruce in Khaki 1.1. (October 12, 1917). 11.
(4) Bruce in Khaki. 1.1. (October 12, 1917). 14.