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Remembered Today:

Anzacs enjoying hospital food in 1915?


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Hi all Gallipoli researchers

I am looking for anyone who has access to diaries from soldiers serving in 1915 in the Middle East who might have written about their view of the food they were served in hospital.

My search to date suggests that very few soldiers wrote about their hospital stay, and even less made mention of the food they ate while they were still sick. I need the info for a paper I'm writing on invalid cookery in World War I and need the info in the next couple of weeks.

If anyone can help with actual quotes I would be most grateful.


Kirsty Harris

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I wonder if your gallent relations left some record of this as they were wounded a number of times during the war?

HARRIS Clement Wallington 264 L/Cpl 01 LHR B Sqn to Cpl 5-15 to Sgt 8-15 (NP) prom 2/Lt MG Sect 11-15 (G) att WFF to OC 1 Sect/1 LH MGS 7-16 WIA 9-1-17 R/foot at Rafa MID - for his actions at Baiket el Sana during 2nd Gaza 19-4-17 WIA 3-11-17 L/arm at Khuweilfe prom Capt 2 LH MGS 1-18 married Agnus Florence Harris in Cairo Egypt brothers Hamlyn 6 LHR, Geoffrey & George 1 LHR

HARRIS Geoffrey Hamlyn Lavicount 661 2/Lt 01 LHR B Sqn C Troop? WIA 7-8-15 shoulder in charge at Popes post recom Croix de Guerre (F) awarded MID - for his actions during bomb fight at Deadmans (P) prom Capt 11-15 MC & MID - for his actions on Gallipoli (G) att WFF WIA 4-8-16 L/hand & shoulder in fighting at Mount Meredith near Romani prom Maj OC C Sqn 7-17 MID - for his actions at Amman 25-9-18 (CMF LtCol 7 LH VD later Col) (Boer War 1 AH (1012) & Lt 1 ACH) born 28-10-1881 brothers Hamlyn 6 LHR, Clement and George 1 LHR

HARRIS George Thomas Hamlyn 2653 Pte 01 LHR 18R tos batman to Maj Irwin B Sqn 7-16 WIA 4-8-16 back & L/shoulder at Romani WIA 3-11-17 R/foot shot at Khuweilfeh prom 2/Lt 2-19 brothers Hamlyn 6 LHR, Geoffrey & Clement 1 LHR

HARRIS Hamlyn Layiscant Vernon 572 Pte 6 LHR B Sqn to BSqn/01 LHR (661) 4-15 to L/Cpl 11-15 (G) to Cpl 1-16 att WFF to T/Sgt 4-16 to L/Sgt 11-16 to Sgt 2-17 (CMF 18 months) brothers George, Geoffrey & Clement 1 LHR

HARRIS Hugh Hamlyn 265 Pte 01 LHR B Sqn 7-15 (P) (G) to Cpl 2-17 cousin to Clement, George and Geoffrey 1 LHR (CSqn CMF)

I have seen some docutents writted by Geoff and others of here expireces on Anzac during the Popes Post fight on Deadman's rigde.

But your right I don't recall any mention of what they eat in these hosps?


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I found a small reference to ' Hospital Ship ' food in the Diary of an Australian Signaller ' Ellis Silas ' written at Anzac, Gallipoli in May, 1915 :-

" 18 May

Am transferred to the Galeka, another Castle Liner. This is not a proper hospital ship, there is only accommodation for 150 wounded – we have on board some 500 or 600, many very terrible cases, and the filth is awful. I request to be put on as orderly, for though I am weak with fever and am only delirious at night, at least I have the use of my limbs.

19 May

Am on duty from 6 am till 11 pm. snatching food when I can get it, which at any time I do not feel the need of. There is practically no nourishment for the patients; very little bread, the majority have to eat the hard ship’s biscuits; jam, occasionally a little butter, very little milk – which is tinned – occasionally baron-tinned beef and a sort of cornflour. I have been watching two important brain cases – one man with a large portion of his brain exposed; the MO has little hope for him but is going to give him a fighting chance. "

Not sure any of this would make good Cook Book stuff, other than the concoction of " baron-tinned beef and a sort of cornflour " ?

I shall keep looking.



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Here are extracts from an Australian Nurse's diary detailing her work at a Military Hospital caring for wounded from the Gallipoli Campaign, and sadly there appears to have been no food menu as such, but rather, as certain foods appear to have been unavailable for periods of time or in short supply, for example, she reports eggs and meat being unavailable for 3 days, and potatoes for 5 weeks, hospital food was based on military rations or whatever could be purchased or scrounged locally.

She reports that the nurses themselves were often " living on iron rations issued to men going into battle ".

All this, is to be expected given the enormous amount of casualties to be dealt with, and the logistical nightmare of that theatre of war.

I would have loved to have come up with a nice ' hospital ' menu as was probably provided back in Blighty, eggs and bacon for breakfast, meat and 2 veg for Dinner, plum pudding for afters, and bread and butter with jam, plus cakes for tea. However, reading many of the reports, it all appears to have been a very depressing mess, with many very brave men and women doing their very best under some extremely horrendous conditions.

I hope, others may come up with better news on the Gallipoli hospital food front.



" In September 1915, Sister Kit McNaughton, from Little River in Victoria, was serving at the No. 2 Australian General Hospital in Cairo, nursing the flood of wounded from the August offensive on the Dardenelles. On Saturday 11 September she wrote in her diary that she had ‘Volunteered for work at Lemnos … & at dinner our names were read out … Great excitement over it, we are just delighted’. Two days later, she and twenty-four other Australian army nurses travelled by train from Cairo to Alexandria, boarded the SS Assaye and set off to steam 650 miles across the Mediterranean. Their destination was the small Greek island of Lemnos in the Northern Aegean.

Vying for seriousness with the cold, however, was the problem of food. On October 6, Lieutenant-Colonel White sent a memo to the Assistant Director of Medical Services at West Mudros advising of the unavailability of basic foodstuffs for periods ranging from three days (eggs and meat) to five weeks (potatoes).25 Evidence from Morrice, Fetherston and Butler suggests that the nurses survived for much of the time on the ‘iron ration’ issued to men going into battle, which consisted of a small bag of biscuits, a tin of bully beef, tea and sugar.26 The Australian Sisters, the most poorly paid of the nurses on Lemnos, were less able to supplement their food from canteens and hawkers.27 As well as the naval men in the harbour, the battalions in the rest camps entertained the nurses to afternoon tea and to dinner, and such meals were described in great detail in the diaries. On Sunday October 3, Sister McNaughton wrote that ‘Some of the Girls went over to the “Southland” to afternoon tea & stayed to dinner … & came home & told us all they had to eat’.28 On November 4, friends from the Australian Field Artillery ‘sent over a small box of things for us, and the joy of opening the box … Asparagus, tinned meat, cocoa and fruit’. Significantly, they did not include their own Medical Officers among their rescuers. ‘Haven’t got our supplies yet’, Olive Haynes wrote on the 19 October 1915. ‘Can’t get a boat to go out to ships, and the MOs won’t help us’.29 While the feasts were described in minute detail, the famine has to be inferred. There is no complaint from Sister McNaughton, merely the comment that rations were short, and two weeks later that they were on half rations.30 Letters home, given the additional factor of censorship, are even more discreet; polite requests are made to try to solve a problem not even admitted. ‘I wonder if you are thinking of sending an Xmas hamper?’ Olive Haynes wrote to her mother in October. ‘Put in heaps of cakes and biscuits if you do. We are always ready for something to eat’.31 On October 30, however, Olive Haynes recorded that Colonel Meikle, about to leave Lemnos, had given her four live fowls. ‘We ate them for dinner,’ she wrote bluntly.32 "

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If you contact Sue Light through the forum, I'm sure she will help. She was kind enough to let me have details of the nursing care my Grandfather would have received and this included his diet, though I must say it didn't sound terribly appertising. She also has a couple of excellent web-sites.

You may like to try the Imperial War Museum web-site in the UK. Peter Hart conducted a number of interesting interviews with old soldiers and whilst I don't recall an interview about an hospitalisation, they certainly talk about the tinned food and the extremely hard biscuits that no one could get their teeth into.

Kind regards


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Hi K

I agree, not much written about other than the food was 'good' - but then I guess anything would be better than bully-beef & hard biscuits covered in flies!!

Will keep looking.....

From the diary of Lt-Col Claude Morlet (Surgeon)

Luna Park – the first influx of wounded from Gallipoli:

“I dashed about and wrote out requisitons for food, medicines and dressings, and rushed to and fro to the palace and got them. Imagine trying to keep the peace single-handed among 400 men, convalescent and slightly wounded, when only 300 eggs were obtainable for their tea! It was with the utmost difficulty I could get anything for the poor devils at all!”

Pte Taylor Hazat Convalescent Hosp, Egypt:

“You are safe from bombs and bullets here, and have good places to sleep in, and better food – what ho! But it takes getting used to, being so rich. I have been on a light diet for a couple of days, as the other did not agree with me.”


Pte Stuart:

“I am having a jolly good time in hospital. We get the very best of food, and the nurses are very nice.”


L/Cpl L. Hicks:

“The only thing I don’t like about the hospital is that they don’t give us enough food. It is good, but there is not enough of it.”


Pte J.C. Philpot:

“The food and beds are first class.”


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The is a long account of an Officer's experiences after being wounded at Galliopil on 15th August 1915, being transferred to a field hospital and eventually shipped back to London. There are a number of references to the food, especially when in a tented hospital. He wrote under the pseudonym of 'Juvenis' although his real name was Lt O G E MacWilliam 5th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

The full account was called "Suvla Bay and After" can be found on-line here page 102 onwards has an interesting description of an improvised breakfast in a hospital tent on Lemnos.


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Found a couple of good ones for you K.....

Pte 597 John Alfred“Jacko” Hampson, 14th Bn (wounded 19/5/1915 – adm No. 1 Gen Hosp, Heliopolis 7/6/1915):

“In common with other returned soldiers, Private Hampson complains of the poor diet which was provided in the hospital in Egypt. One egg, bread, and tea without sugar or milk, and a little porridge was the breakfast. Out of the first eight eggs he got only one was good. Dinner consisted of stew and rice. “What beat me,” added Private Hampson, “was the evening meal – one slice of bread and jam and a cup of tea without milk or sugar.” Complaint was made by a lady visitor, and after that there was an improvement in the diet.”


Staff Sgt Mjr 252 Joseph Kells, 12th LH – Admitted 1st AGH, Heliopolis 4/10/1915:

“On arrival at the hospital we had a bag containing chocolate and notepaper given to each man. …………………………., tucker is good, chicken and eggs every day. Porridge, bread and butter, and one egg and tea for breakfast; chicken and mincemeat, vegetables, and milk custard for dinner; and tea, bread and butter, one egg, and jam for tea. At 11 am a glass of beer and biscuits, and cocoa and biscuits at 7.30.

The men who growl at this are the men who do not know what a decent meal is, and, having never experienced one, have formed exaggerated ideas on the subject, and can’t recognise one when they get one. Invalids’ meals can scarcely be banquets.”


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Dear all,

Thank you very much for all your contributions - a few I had seen before but it never hurts to be reminded.

Frev, as usual, fantastic. As you pointed out, most men that I have found an entry for have said it was "good" and I've assumed that this was a comparison to field rations.

Steve, alas, the men in my family were not diary writers and the ladies were not letter keepers. I myself was the 'victim' of hospital food when I was sick as a very young child and Gran (ex war nurse) made me invalid foods - this is why I hate runny custard with skin on top!

Thank you everyone, I now have enough for my needs. An elephant gold stamp all round.

cheers Kirsty

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