Salonika, Christmas, 1917

Fred Warburton, serving with an ammunition column on the Doiran Front, told this story of Christmas 1917 when he and his comrades were looking forward to the geese that they had raised – and guarded jealously – from goslings.

Christmas Eve and we had arranged for a two hour spell to watch the geese and Dick Best had relieved for the 4 to 6 after which we would all be up, our cook Reg usually got up before that time to make gunfire [tea], all of a sudden we heard Reg shouting so we all hurried out to find Dick fast asleep in the corner of the old church, we tried to waken him but it seemed impossible, at his side was a water bottle still quarter full of rum and all we could identify was RAMC in indelible ink and there were NO geese so our Xmas dinner had vanished and all we had left was a tin of Daily Mail pudding. Although we could smell them cooking they, the Medics [who had a camp on the opposite hillside], said they bought them, it took us all our time to stop a free for all but as usual the ‘Rob-All-My-Comrades’ won.

From Alan Wakefield’s book Christmas in the Trenches (The History Press, 2010).

Merry Christmas!


Troops of the 77th Brigade, 26th Division, watching villagers celebrate Orthodox Christmas in January 1916. THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN, 1915-1918
Troops of the 77th Brigade, 26th Division, watching villagers celebrate Orthodox Christmas in January 1916. THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN, 1915-1918. (click on the image to see full size) © IWM (Q 31624)