Christmas For The Soldiers

Clipstone Camp is known to some people and not others and yet from 1915 to 1921 it was an important part of our local history. This extract from Pauline Marples book ‘Clipstone Camp and the Mansfield Area in WW1’ reveals how many people in the community looked after the welfare of the soldiers, especially at Christmas.

“Christmas was a time when the soldiers welfare received extra special consideration, not only in the local churches and at the Mansfield YMCA but on the camp site itself. The local newspapers such as the Mansfield Chronicle were keen to report these events.

In December 1916 a large ‘family’ type party was held for the staff and soldiers who frequented the Church Army Hut. The Duke of Portland and local tradesmen had provided refreshments, smokes and fruit. Possibly the largest festivities were held on Boxing Day (1916) in YMCA Hut No 1 when a 1,000 soldiers were catered for in two sittings beginning at 5pm.

Preparations had started in the morning when lady helpers from Mansfield had begun the great task of making sandwiches and packing the food into bags for the 1000 soldiers.

The hut was colourful with decorations and a centre piece was of flags of the allied nations. Long lines of white covered tables, had centre decorations of sprigs of evergreens. A bag of food was set at each place and cigarettes and fruit were also given to each soldier.

Special Christmas greetings plus donations  for the event, had been received from the Lord Mayor of Bradford, the Mayor of Halifax and the Chairman of Elland District Council. These were read out to the men, many of them were from the Yorkshire battalions stationed at the camp at that time, they responded with great cheers pleased to know they had not been forgotten by people back home.”

It is obvious the same celebrations were repeated in later years as the photo from 1917 shows.

For more information on Clipstone Camp and the book see other pages on this web site.

P Marples Collection

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