Tonight we have the second of our three festive objects, and one we can date to exactly one hundred years ago today. Following yesterday’s post we have another menu, but this time from 1914 and the 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters:
The menu has playful air about it, with oysters described as ‘à la Christmas leave’ and a note referring to drinks in the margin as being for ‘Frequent Distribution’. Clearly despite the start of the Great War there was no trouble in putting on a good spread of food with six courses and coffee. The menu is clearly for the officers of the regiment and the meal is held in the Saracen’s Head, Dumow. Dunmow is in Essex and the pub is still in existence and still offers a Christmas lunch to its patrons. As can be seen the pub is an imposing old coaching inn:
The 5th Battalion was a territorial battalion of the regiment from Derby which was mobilised in August 1914. It was sent to Braintree in Essex in November 1914, less than ten miles from Dunmow where the officers were to enjoy their Christmas lunch. Christmas was to be the calm before the storm as the battalion landed in France on 25th February 1915 and formed part of the 139th (Forester) Infantry Brigade in the 46 (North Midland) Division. The Battalion was one of the first territorial units to arrive in France and was to serve there for the rest of the war, suffering many casualties. One of the most famous exchanges overheard during the Great War was about the Sherwood Foresters at the Battle of Artois in 1915.
General Henry Rawlinson: “This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires out on the right?”
Brigadier Reginald Oxley: “They are lying out in No-Man’s Land, sir, and most of them will never stand again.”
An excellent site on Derbyshire Territorials can be found here: https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/