The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow, Part 5: The Cookhouse Revolution

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.)

During the night our Officers along with some of our Senior N.C.O.’s had lots of liquor flowing in one of the tents on my territory. The guard that I had posted at that point notified me that they were making noise and running around outside the tent. He tried to get them to quieten down but they just laughed at him.He notified me and I went up to the tent. They stopped for awhile but then it got worse. I went back again, and a Lieutenant (I won’t mention his name as I will never forget) came out with his revolver pointing at me. I ran away from the tent him following me with his revolver pointing at me. I finally lost him and then I went back to the Party Tent and told the Officer that I was going to put him in the guard tent on charges of drunkenness and disobedience.

The Officers came up very quickly, took the revolver away from him and I then went back to the guard to tell him everything was O.K. My Company Officer came to the Guard tent and said, “Goodfellow, forget it.”

I said, “Very well, Sir, but will you stop the revelry.” I told him to stop the party at once; which he did.

The next day some of the Officers came to me and thanked me.

I had enough common sense to hush the matter up. When taking an Officer’s Course the Lecturer said, “Know what to see and what not to see.” I will give you an example later on.

On Thursday, May 25, there was a small revolution. We lined up for dinner; I was eighth in line and the Sergeant-Cook put a lump of fat, a small potato and some grease in my dixie. I looked at it then looked at him.

He said, “Go on, that’s all you are going to get.”

The troops before me and the ones following got the same junk. They were wild about it and as I was the senior there, they asked what I was going to do about it.

I said, “I am going to Folkstone and buy my meal.”

They said, “You are going to see the R.S.M. Wilcox,” and I said, “Very well.”

I went to the Regimental Sergeant-Major’s tent and showed him my dinner. A number of the troops were behind me. He just said, “Well, you had better eat it.”

The boys started shouting. I left and went to my tent to get ready to go to Folkstone.

All hell broke loose then. They grabbed the permanent cookhouse gang, beat them up, tore down the cookhouse and storage sheds and raised the very devil.

While this was going on, word got out to the Head Quarters and down came the Colonel and troops on horseback.

They tried to stop the riot but could not. The boys started shouting, “Where is Corporal Goodfellow?”

I heard them in the tent but I did not know what to do.

I had on my baseball sweater: blue body with white trim and a big ogreen Maple Lea on front.

I stepped out of my tent and the Colonel shouted to me. I went up to him and saluted.

He said, “You started this.”

I told him, “I did not.”

He said, “Can you stop them?”

I said, “Yes.” I shouted at them, “Fall in by Company,” which they did. I lined them up as we would do on parade and turned them over to the Colonel.

He said, “Put them at ease,” and had his Adjutant read the Riot Act. The men got uneasy and I thought the riot would break out again.

I shouted at them, “Silence.”

The Colonel, after hearing their complaint and inspecting some of the dixies containing the food, said he would send down food from Headquarters.

He told me to pick out eight men including myself and march to his Orderly Room.

We had four Companies and I picked out two men from each Company.

I told the troops to behave themselves and dismissed them.

The eight of us marched to Headquarters and on the way we met the new food going to our boys.

In the Orderly Room the Colonel blamed me for the uprising and I denied it.

He calmed down and asked us how long we were getting such terrible meals.

We then told him the Cooking Staff were selling our food for what they could get at the row of houses down the hill behind the cookhouse.

We also told him that women with baby carriages were going out of the Camp with food and their babies sitting on it.

He gave us eight a good dressing down, and thanked us for the information.

He had the matter investigated. There were no more Baby Carriages going through the Camp. We then had a new Cookhouse Gang, and I never saw our other Cooks again.

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