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The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow, Part 10: Rum Running

I’m posting the First World War memoirs of my grandfather-in-law, Sampson J. Goodfellow, a few pages at a time…

(Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9.)

We picked up supplies at Aubigny, Braay, Barlin, etc. and took them up to a point near the front. Commanders did not want many trucks on the road and often we would work nights. It was very difficult driving in the dark. The trees had all been destroyed on each side of the road, so it was a case of watching the stumps to stay on the road.

Our Truck did all kind of jobs. We were attached to the tunnelers, who were a hardy lot. We would take the tunnelers up as close to the line as we could, then they would carry their equipment into the trench.

We would then take a shift back and bring in another, it kept us busy. These different actions went on until Christmas, when there was a sort of an Armistice–no firing–but each side watched each other.

Our Officers decided to have a party in a big barn at Toloy. We bought a few kegs of French Beer, and there was all kinds of Scotch, Rye, Gin, Brandy, etc.

I remember our Cook, Jack Henderson, stirring the hot Brandy Sauce for the Plum Pudding and he was high.

I said, “Jack, that’s pretty strong Brandy.”

He said, “It’s the fumes, Sam.”

The Daily Mail, a London Newspaper, had sent over to France Christmas Puddings for all the Canadian Troops. It was the best you could buy.

The men got pretty high and started getting after our Officers, especially the O.C. (I won’t give you his name) with abusive remarks.

He left and got soldiers from an English Regiment in the next town to chase us out of the Hall.

Did this regiment have a good time!

They ate everything in sight, and drank any liquor that was left.

In the morning our troops went over to have a drink of Beer, and every keg was empty, so they had to suffer with a big head.

After the so called “Holiday Season,” the Canadian Divisions started getting ready for the Vimy Rush, and we were driving to all the different Railheads collecting different supplies as they were required.

We, the truck drivers, had no knowledge of where we would be going from day to day.

Because I was able to speak a little French, I was chosen to go out of our district to get material or to do other errands.

One job I had was going to Barlin to get the Rum for the troops. The driver of the truck took sick, so I had to go alone, with the credentials. It was getting dark when I reached our Park. I had not eaten since breakfast at 6:00 a.m. I, therefore, went to our Staff Sergeant and told him the truck was loaded with rum and he should put guards on it. He told me to be the guard, but I said, “I am going to the Cookhouse to see if I can get something to eat.”

I was under the impression that he had enough sense to guard the truck.

Some of the fellows took me to an Estaminet for a French Beer which is very low in alcohol but as I didn’t drink liquor, I didn’t know the difference. When I was not looking they poured rum in my glass and consequently, I went into semi-darkness.

They then took me to an empty truck; put me in the back and placed blankets on top of me.

The next morning I didn’t know what had happened. I had breakfast and then drove the truck to deliver the goods at a crossroad where the four brigades came to pick up their quota.

We had one of our Officers and the Staff Sergeant, who I told to guard the truck, were there to see to the sharing of the rum; but as soon as they opened the tarpaulin and lifted the boxes which should have contained two gallons of rum they realized they were empty.

Our Officer demanded from the first driver what happened and of course, he said he had been sick and I was the driver.

I told them I had taken the truck into our Park and told the Staff Sergeant to put guards on it.

The Staff Sergeant admitted I had told him to put guards on but he had the regular guards on night duty.

The whole matter was hushed up, and when I got back to the Park, I sure gave the troops the devil for what they had done.

They said, “What are you kicking about, we have your share.”

I said, “I don’t want it, keep it.” That was the end of the rum vanishing. I had to keep my mouth shut; you don’t tell on one another or about such pranks.

I was on another rum and confidential trip. I had lived a sheltered life, but now I was getting an education on how the other side of life managed.

Permanent link to this article: https://edwardwillett.com/2008/11/the-first-world-war-memoirs-of-sampson-j-goodfellow-part-10-rum-running/

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