Topic: Army Rations
An Officers' Mess on Active Service
The Age, Melbourne , Australia, 31 January 1900
Mr. W.C. Hannah, a son of the Vicar of Brighton, went to Ladysmith to secure from officers of the Leicestershire Regiment details of the death of his brother, Lieutenant Hannah, who was the first officer killed at Dundee. Mr. Hannah, in the course of his letter, dated 3rd November, says:—
"I dined with the Dundee column last night. I will give you a description of this dinner as showing how Burns's "gilded popinjays" fare when times are warlike. To begin with, there was no sign of furniture either in the mess-room or the ante-room. If you wanted to sit down you did so on the floor. We each got hold of a large tin mug, and dipped it into a large tin saucepan of soup and drank it, spoons not existing. A large lump of salt was passed round, and every one broke off a piece with his fingers. Next you clawed hold of a piece of bread and a chunk of tongue, and gnawed one and then the other—knives and forks there were none. This finished the dinner. Add to this two or three tallow candles stuck on a cocoa tin, and the fact that none of the officers had shaved, or had their clothes off for a week, and had walked some 45 miles through rivers and mud, and you will have some idea of how the officers' mess of one of the smartest of her Majesty's foot regiments do for themselves in times of war. Not a murmur of complaint was to be heard."
The "Gilded Popinjays" Reference
John Burns, M.P., on Militarism
The following extract from a speeh by Burns was published in The Herald of Peace and International Arbitration, Volumes 23-24, 1st February, 1895: