Moonraker Posted 26 December , 2011 Share Posted 26 December , 2011 I've a couple of postcards showing officers' mess staff. One is for the Royal Artillery at Bulford in 1911 and shows nine smartly-dressed young men who are obviously waiters. Dare I say that they look superior to the average British private of that time, and several would not be out of place in a photo of public school prefects. Others in the photo are wearing aprons and must be kitchen staff, and one is in what may be a chef's hat. The other shows eight men in smart civilian attire before a well-decorated table at Windmill Hill Camp in 1909. One might cast them as waiters in an up-market hotel. Outside caterers provided messing arrangements at many summer camps before the war, and indeed during it. Harrods did so for the First Canadian Contingent in 1914-15 but had to cater for far more officers than they had been told and the company was left with unpaid bills when the Contingent left for France. (In the diary of the 2nd Canadian General Hospital Lieutenant-Colonel J W Bridges noted on December 21, 1914:"Last day of Messing with Harrods – thank Heavens".) So the question is: to what extent did officers' messes rely on soldiers for staff? Perhaps they brought in civilian contractors for special occasions - guest nights, for example? I'm thinking mainly in the context of units based in Britain, but what about units out of the Front Line and resting in towns and villages - did they commission French caterers. Moonraker Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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