The Field Comforts Commission is busy dispatching bales and parcels to France. They expected to meet or exceed the totals for 1915, when nearly fifty thousand presents were sent, giving something to every man serving in France. (1)
The work did not stop with Christmas, but continued well into the New Year. The good ladies who volunteered were assisted by a fatigue party of twenty men who unpacked and repacked boxes, packaged up sweets, and candles, and soap. Despite stern instructions in every issue of Field Comforts, there were disasters. “Tins invariably open one way or another,” and everything in the box is impregnated with cocoa powder, if the tin is not overwrapped in paper. A whole carload of Christmas mail was destroyed because someone sent matches that were not in a sealed tin. Home made sweets got stale in their passage across the Atlantic, unless wrapped in oil paper and put in tins: perhaps the fatigue party got to taste-test the fudge and peanut brittle that arrived in unapproved wrappings. (2)
“Barrels” of home-made jam arrived at the depot in Shorncliffe, but they were not forwarded to France, as being too heavy. They did not go to waste, however, but were “hailed with delight in the camps” in England.(2) Perhaps the jam usually served at places like Witley resembled “the horrible mess” provided to soldiers in France.
(1) The Canadian Field Comforts Commission. Field Comforts. 2 (June 1916): 4
(2) Field Comforts. 2 (June 1916): 8
The cartoon by Bruce Bairnsfather (Fragments from France, 11) bears the caption: “Overheard in an Orchard: Said the Apple to the Plum,” Well, anyway, old man, they can never ask us what we did in the great war!”