Folkestone the Harbour Cafe and the canteensSummer is fading into memory and the days are getting shorter. Step Short did well with their reconstruction of the Great War Harbour Cafe on the harbour arm.Sure not the right flags on the wall but where does one get hold of a Italian Flag from when it was a monarchy in less than a week. Hopefully I will have been given credit for providing the recipe for 1916 Trench Cake.Not sure what was actually available at the cafe during the war, or how many soldiers were served. It is known that the soldiers free buffet at Victoria Station served over 6 million cups of tea with from accounts read mostly rock cakes.Free tea and cakes were also given to soldiers at most if not all railway stations in the UK.For those not sure of the recipe.One teaspoon loose tea per cup to be made, never tea bags as the tea is inferior and bags are harmful to the environment, per cup. Boiling water should also be measured as one cup per person before being poured into the kettle. Could not be easier. After pouring add milk and sugar to taste.Everyone knows how to make Rock CakesHere though is how they made them in the Great War(If you are not trying to feed what is left of the army adjust quantities downwards)Half a bag of flour.The same quantity of mashed potato8oz of margerine per Lb of flour, so if your bag of flour is a 1kg bag, you will be using roughly the 8oz per half bag2 eggs4oz sugarDried fruitabout 3-4 teaspoons of baking powderrind of lemonbeat eggs firstmix all the other ingredientsmix in eggsUsing a desert spoon place mixture in heaps on a greased baking tray about an inch and a half apart, (3.6cms)Bake in a rather hot oven for about twenty minutes.Throughout the war cafes at Folkestone, Victoria and elsewhere all run by volunteers did sterling service. All things and times come to an end and the troops came home. Ports of embarkation became ports of disembarkation. Folkestone was one of them although for less than a year before it returned to civilian use. Other ports were still used by the military into 1920.The War office decreed that troops being demobilised and returning POWs were entitled to more than a cup of tea and a rock cake. This was when the Military Canteens came into their own.Each returning POW was given a luxury parcel containing, a pipe, a oz of tobacco, cigarettes, biscuits and either chocolate or toffee.In addition all disembarking POWs and demobilised soldiers were to be provided with a hot meal, tea, and yes a rock cake. Or if there was no suitable accommodation for this a disembarking ration of tea, bar of chocolate and yes they still got a rock cake.Plus there was a ration given for the train journey home. For every six hours of expected journey time a ration consisting of an 8oz pork pie, quarter pound of sweet biscuits, 2oz cheese, 2 bars of chocolate and, you guessed a rock cake was issued.None of the parcels or rations were issued by the free cafes run by the volunteers. Their day had passed. These parcels and rations were issued by the Military and RAF Canteens, a largely forgotten service by them.Author: Peter Anderson (WW1 Blog)
The ‘Friends’ are a volunteer group formed to protect, preserve and promote interest in this lovely old Victorian cemetery.