Index

Prisoner Of War Menu 1943 Christmas Menu at Oflag IX A/Z

On 19 August 1942, John Dibblee took part in the Dieppe Raid. It failed, and he was captured (see Handcuffs story) and imprisoned in Germany, first at Oflag VIIB Eichstatt Bavaria, and then in Oflag IX AZ at Rotenburg am Fulda. An explanation made by John Dibblee says: 'This print was available to ex-inmates of Oflaf IX A/Z in 1945. lt may have faded, but was when new a very good reduced reproduction of an original watercolour painted in the camp by Freddy Gray for the camp noticeboard. It was subsequently sent home. The idea was to produce a "drool factor" in hungry POWs in anticipation of the Christmas season. The items, except for potatoes, were from Red Cross parcels and contain some unusual items which the parcel opening team (who worked under German supervision) had previously put aside. Except for Christmas and New Years days there was no more to eat than we usually got and items did not necessarily live up to their descriptions, e.g. the Christmas Pudding, Oxford Sausages, and Toad in the Hole I remember as inferior, the egg was of course powdered and the bacon very fatty boiled stuff. The menu refers to food produced by the central kitchen. It supplied tea, occasionally coffee, boiled German potatoes and heated the tins (maximum ration half a tin per person) and occasionally attempted a made-up dish. In addition each prisoner got one fifth of a loaf of German bread per day, small quantities of tinned margarine (occasionally butter) and "spread", biscuits, tinned milk powder and what the German ration provided in the form of sausage etc. There was plenty of tea and we had meagre amounts of sugar and chocolate occasionally. Availability varied with the transport system in Germany.'.

Note the Red Cross flag near the top of the menu below. The menu is full of jokes. See below for explanations.

Christmas Prisoner of War menu

Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu At the top, there is Prince Egg, King Bully, Queen Nestlé and Princess Orange Marmalade. These are all tinned or packaged goods. The eggs would have been dried. Bully means bully beef, which we now call corned beef - beef preserved with salt. Nestlé was a company which made tinned milk.
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Peas with mint - the Mint is where money is made
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Oxford sausages - Oxford University rowing is famous
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Stewed fruit - 'stewed' was slang for being drunk
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Toad in hole - This is sausages cooked in a layer of batter - no toads are involved!
Toad of Toad Hall is a character in Wind in the Willows.
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Potatoes in jackets for luncheon, mashed for dinner
a masher was a fashionable young man of the Edwardian era.
(I'm not sure if this is relevant!)
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Fresh vegetables - 'Getting fresh' was slang for making sexual advances.
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Wizard lush - Explanantion from John Dibblee:
"Lush had catering experience and was in charge of the kitchen.
He endured much unmerited criticism."
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Salmon Mousse - Explanantion from John Dibblee:
"Captain Maude was a heavy, square muscular man with an unvarying facial expression and very short sight, which inspired his nickname Moose. He was very good natured except on the Rugby field, when he played forward with great ferocity, always wearing his pebble glasses. A notable and likable character."
You can see the signature of the artist below. It says "F V Gray, 20.12.43".
According to this website, this is Major F V S Gray, Royal Army Service Corps
Detail from Christmas Prisoner of War menu
Mentioned here are Grapefruit marmalade, custard, Pascall, Irish stew, meat roll, baked beans, Players Navy cut, cold corned beef, jelly. Pascall made sweets - they got taken over by Cadbury's in 1964. Players Navy cut would be cigarettes or tobacco. There is a sardine holding a key. These were attached to sardine tins to open them with, and were even more inefficient than the current ring-pulls.