“It’s Panto time again” “Oh no it isn’t!”

For the first time in many years I am supposed to be going to a pantomime this Christmas but, as I write this on the 20th, it’s not looking especially hopeful for ‘Dick Whittington and His Cat’ at Norwich Theatre Royal. A pity as I was looking forward to it, particularly as ‘Dick Whittington’ was the first of the pantos put on for 28th Division by 85th Field Ambulance in 1915. The whole show was put together in just a fortnight, which was quite an achievement. However, 28th Division wasn’t the only BSF division to have multiple talented men in its ranks.

The Society is very lucky to have been given a collection of documents belonging to W. Gibb Stuart of 10/Black Watch Old Comrades Association, who corresponded with the Salonika Reunion Association on the OCA’s behalf. Whilst most of the collection is SRA correspondence, one amazing survival is a programme from the 26th Division pantomime, Robinson Crusoe, performed at the Gaiety Theatre in 1917/18.

As you can see in the programme, reproduced below, the cast, crew and orchestra came from units throughout 26th Division. I see that various members of 10/Black Watch are to be found in the cast and chorus, which may explain the programme’s survival, indeed, Pte D. Stuart may well be a relative of Mr Gibb Stuart.

Author: Robin B

Robin's interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Fred, who served as a cyclist with the BSF from 1915 to 1917, mainly in the Struma valley. Robin joined the SCS in 2003 and served on the committee for 18 years as journal and web editor. Opinions expressed in these posts are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.

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