Monday, 12 May 2014

Eat like a Tommy Day

Posters are now up advertising the 'Eat like a Tommy Day' taking place on 27th June at Great Wyrley High School.  We are pleased to be commemorating the centenary in unique ways and this will be a 'taster' of an element of trench life for our students at Great Wyrley.  There will be allsorts of food on offer ranging from curry to stew; fish pie to milk biscuit pudding and a special free treat on offer.
To keep you informed of how the day went there will be a post from one of the student committee members involved in the centenary work.

Where are our Poppies??

At the start of this academic year in autumn a Great Wyrley High School student did a very important job-he sowed some wild poppy seeds in the quad.  We thought it would be a nice idea to have some wild poppies growing on the school site as a commemoration in light of this year's centenary.

But....they have not yet appeared.  I am not much of a gardener and do not know a lot about flowers-any ideas of when they usually start to appear? Is it still too cold? Should they have sprouted already?

As soon as they do appear (if they do!) I will post pictures on here of what should be our own centenary Poppy 'field'.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Did Tommies eat rats????

Whenever we think about Tommies in the trenches of the First World War, we think about mud, trench foot and a questionable diet.  Is it true that Tommies survived on rock hard biscuits and the occasional rat to satisfy their ever-increasing hunger?  Or was their diet a little better than what we think? I have been looking into this recently in anticipation of launching an 'Eat like a Tommy' day at the school I teach at in Walsall, Staffordshire.
Baldrick from Ben Elton's 'Blackadder' memorably described the best food available to the men in the trenches as 'rat-au-van'.  But despite popular belief the average British soldier's diet at the Front was nutritious and plentiful, even if it was perhaps a little repetitive.  Dishes like chips and egg and curry were popularised during the conflict and soldiers could chow done on things like potato pie and mutton broth.
Food available to the men fighting in France and Belgium was very often far superior and in greater quantity than what was available at home.  For example, "a working class family of two adults and at least one child in Britain would eat 3lb 6oz of beef or mutton a week, along with 19lb 8oz of bread and just over 25lb of potatoes between them, each soldier would receive 8lb 12oz and the same weight in bread. He also had 1lb 5oz of bacon and 3lb 8oz of vegetables" Source
As the war went on more and more food was prepared closer to the front lines to cater for the increase in soldiers serving on the Western front.  As thousands of soldiers from India joined the ranks of the British Army curry was prepared and became more widely available to soldiers.  Of course, the usual dishes still reigned supreme-like 'bully' beef and 'Maconochie' and not everyone was a fan of these trench staples.  One soldier regarded 'Maconochie' as a 'war crime' whilst the French referred to 'bully' as 'monkey'.  But, as soldiers were paid in local currency they were able to supplement their rations with local food bought from cafes and restaurants.
As for rats being trapped, roasted and eaten in desperation because the only alternative was rock hard biscuits-it looks like it could be more of a myth than a reality....
Great Wyrley High School in Walsall, Staffordshire are hosting their 'Eat like a Tommy' day on 27th June 2014.  On the menu will be delights such as; beef tea, curried cod, fish pie, potato pie and milk biscuit pudding.