Troops enjoy Christmas feast fit for a king

Jamie Heap
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Cumberland Roots

Following the signing of the armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleven month that ended World War I, Lieutenant General Arthur Currie was informed that the Canadian corps would serve with British army of occupation along the left bank and bridgeheads of the Rhine River’s main crossings. One month and a 170 mile march later, the occupation of German soil, Canada’s ultimate war aim, was realized. Along the way, hundreds of Canadian soldiers from across Cumberland County paid the supreme sacrifice in attaining this goal.

Upon their arrival in Germany in mid-December, the first Canadian division headquartered in Cologne while the second division situated themselves in Bonn. “Sunday, December 15 brought the first day of genuine relaxation the men had enjoyed in a long time,” writes retired Mount Allison University associate professor of history David Pearce Beatty in his 1986 book Memories of the Forgotten War: The World War Diary of Pte. V.E. Goodwin,” a native of Baie Verte, New Brunswick. “The stress and toil of a month-long march lay behind.”

While in Cologne-Bonn, all Canadian soldiers who served under Currie’s command were afforded the opportunity to enjoy its sights and sounds. This could mean playing football or volleyball in the rain or, when off-duty, Cologne-Bonn’s nightlife, a nightlife that consisted of watching a movie or listening to a brass band or accordion player playing in one of the beer halls while sampling food and drink.

Christmas Day, 1918 in Bonn, Germany was long remembered by all those members of the second Canadian motor machine gun brigade (CMMGB) in attendance. Evergreen boughs adorned with sprigs of holly and a large Christmas tree with lighted candles near the head table added to the festive spirit of the day.

The Christmas dinner menu enjoyed by members of the second CMMGB was fit for the King of England, one of the people that they toasted that afternoon. In addition to hors d’oeuvres and consommé a la Meurling, brigade cooks served fish, roast beef, roast turkey, parsley sauce, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green peas, cauliflower, plum pudding, brandy sauce, fruit, biscuits, cheese and coffee.

In addition to food, musical entertainment was also provided. This would be the last Christmas dinner that they would have to spend away from home. On May 17, 1919, Goodwin returned to Baie Verte where he would live out his remaining days.

Organizations: British army, Mount Allison University

Geographic location: Germany, Bonn, Baie Verte Rhine River Canada Cumberland County Cologne New Brunswick England

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