Last week I happened to find a menu from a special dinner held by the 56th Battalion in France among the Souvenirs Collection at the Australian War Memorial’s Research Centre.
On the evening of 11 June 1918 the 56th’s CO, Lieutenant Colonel Cameron, hosted a dinner at the battalion officers’ mess at Bussy-les-Daours. Brigadier Stewart was the guest of honour and the COs of other units in the brigade also attended. The menu includes signatures of all the officers who attended, as well as a list of songs played by the 14th Brigade Band. The following includes my probably imperfect understanding of what the dishes were. I wonder what the other ranks had for dinner that night…
- Potage petits pois – Pea soup
- Saumon sur pain grille – Salmon on grilled bread
- Pate de pommes de terre – Potato pate – potato slices and crème fraîche, which are baked in the oven until the dish is covered with a golden-brown crust looking like a pie
- Poulet roti aux pois verts – Roast chicken with green peas
- Rosbif Anglais – Pommes de terre rotis – English roast beef with roast potatoes
- Choux – either a sauce or a pastry i.e. for profiteroles?
- Poudin aux dates – Date pudding?
- Peche aux Riz – Peaches and rice
- Frais a la crème ou Vin Rouge – Fresh cream and red wine
- Welsh Rarebit. Welsh Rarebit is commonly melted cheese on toast, and often including mustard,pepper or Worcestershire sauce.
- Coffee, port and liqueurs
After nearly two months holding the vital ground near Villers-Bretonneux, in June 1918 the 5th Australian Division was finally moved into reserve for a fortnight’s well-earned rest. The 14th Brigade was stationed around Querrieu, about 12 km behind the front, with the 56th Battalion camped at Bussy-les-Daours, on L’Hallue Canal. The short time spent in the rustic surroundings of the nearby wood with a multitude of wild flowers and a stream running through it was fondly remembered by all.