Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas at Crawley 1914 - Part Two

In December 1914 war had become part of daily life in Crawley. R. Cook & Sons building business continued being run by Herbert and Chris as elder brother Ted is on military service. Chris has attended a meeting of the newly formed Crawley Civil Guard and young Eddie Cook is into his second full year at Brighton Grammar School with cousin Don just having completed his first term.

Sergeant Ted Cook spent Christmas day 1914 away from home on guard duty at Newhaven.

CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES AT NEWHAVEN – In many hundreds of Sussex homes families were thinking on Christmas day of their loved ones in the Fourth Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (T) and wondering whether they were having a good time. No great anxiety need to have been felt, for “Tommy Atkins” has the happy ability to adapt himself to almost every sort of circumstance. Had his Christmas dinner been on dry brown bread and water he would still have shown a happy resignation. But such a contingency did not arise. Instead, generous friends and well-wishers in his own town and village sent him plenty of seasonable fare that he might once again enjoy himself in the old fashioned way. His own relatives, of course, forwarded him presents, Christmas cards and affectionate letters, and the Officers of his Company and their friends also made a liberal provision of good things for him. In such circumstances even a pessimist would have been jolly, much more our light hearted, happy-go-lucky Territorial of whom we are all so proud.


‘C’ COMPANY ON GUARD – Most of the men belonging to ‘C’ Company (East Grinstead and Crawley) were on guard from 10am on Christmas day until the same hour on Boxing Day. The nature of their thoughts during those 24 hours may be left to the imagination. However, the Christmas dinner lost none of its attractiveness by being postponed for a day. The menu was a sumptuous one, comprising turkey, goose, pork, brussel sprouts, cabbage, potatoes and plum pudding. The toast of Colonel Mostyn who attended was heartily honoured, and other officers were also toasted. Plenty of dessert, tobacco and chocolate was provided and the Company passed the afternoon in a jovial manner. After tea a concert took place.


Mrs Beale (wife of Major S.W.P. Beale, who formerly commanded the Company) visited the camp on December 23rd and presented each man with a pipe, gloves, socks, and either a cardigan or a slip on given by friends at East Grinstead. Tobacco was sent by the ‘Buffs’ of the same town. The ‘Boys’ were very grateful for all the kindness shown to them. The hut in which they dined was lavishly decorated, various mottoes and greetings being worked out in cotton wool on the Company’s blankets, which were hung around the building. The Sergeants of the entire Battalion also dined together on the night of the 28th.


War Broke: and now the Winter of the world

With perishing great darkness closes in.

The foul tornado, centred at Berlin,

Is all over all the width of Europe world,

Rending the sails of progress. Rent or furled

Are all Art’s ensigns. Verse wails. Now begin

Famines of thought and feeling. Loves wine’s thin.

The grain of human Autumn rots, down-hurled.

1914, Wilfred Owen.

No comments:

Post a Comment