Christmas 102-years ago.
The 18th Battalion was stationed in the Allner region of Germany. It had arrived December 17, 1918, and with the war’s end and the approach of Christmas the men of the 18th were going to be able to celebrate their first Christmas in peace since 1913. Below is the War Diary entry for December 25, 1918. It is self-explanatory but if contrasted to the War Diary entries for December 1915, 1916, and 1917, one can sense an exuberance, muted though it be in the parlance of a war diarist, that this Christmas was like no other.
The men of the Battalion where almost home. This Christmas would be the last the 18th Battalion would ever experience.
“‘A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL’. Christmas Day dawned bright and clear, with just a touch of snow upon the ground, which gave the vicinity a very “Christmas-like” appearance.
The members of the Battalion were in excellent spirit and thoroughly prepared for anything the day might bring forth. The Officers of the Battalion made every preparation for a fine Christmas Dinner and the men were awaiting it with very keen anticipation. At the appointed hour the tables in the different Company mess-rooms, especially selected for the day, were teeming with good things to eat, and they assuredly presented a most pleasant sight.
“A” Company Mess-room was located in a large hall in the Northern section of the town. “C” Company enjoyed its dinner in a very picturesque theatre in the centre of the town, while “D” Company had theirs in one of the schools the town affords. “B” Company being on duty as Outpost Company, had arranged to have dinner in one of the schools in the village of Brohl.
Each of the mess-rooms was decorated in a most pleasant and “Christmas-like” style and tended to heighten the then very high spirit of the men. The tables were loaded with Apples, Oranges, Nuts, Ginger-ale, Cakes, etc. and from the serving tables in the rear came the most appetizing odours of Turkey, meats, vegetables, Christmas Plum Pudding and other items to be served as the dinner progressed.
The men took their places at the tables in a very business-like manner, the different platoons being kept together, and then began what was their first Christmas dinner and also, in all probability their last one in German Territory.
Lt.-Col. L.E. Jones and ad Staff Officers and the Officers of the different Companies were in attendance at each of the dinners of the Companies and during the progress of the dinner Lt.-Col. Jones made a short [entered in pencil] speech of good will, wishing the members of the Battalion a “Very Merry Christmas” and every prosperity for the coming year, which as he remarked would be the one year that would never be forgotten by any one present or by the world in its entirety, being the Anniversary year of the Ending of the War. He again complimented the members of the Battalion upon their share of the conflict and expressed himself as being more than pleased with their conduct in the past and present.
At the close of his address the men express their appreciation of his remarks by rising and giving him three of the most hearty cheers and a “Tiger”.
At the close of the dinner the faces of the men showed, very glowingly, their entire satisfaction. Altogether the occasion was carried off in an excellent manner and it will be one that will never be forgotten by any of the members of this battalion.
2 O.R.s on leave and 3 O.R.s returned.