Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 13th December – 31st December 1916

Celebrating Christmas and Boxing Day 1916

Troops in the Suez Canal Defence Zone were far enough away from enemy lines to be able to celebrate Christmas with gusto. Different entertainment and food all played their part in keeping up soldiers’ morale while far from home.

Many of the battalions in the 54th (East Anglian) Division had their own concert parties. Open to those who enjoyed devising and putting on shows, they often included satirical sketches that poked fun at army life in the Middle East as well as ever-popular performances of music hall songs.

Suez Canal Defences. Concert Party of the 1/11th London Regt. 162nd Infantry Brigade, 54th East Anglian Division at Ashton Post, 1916. © IWM Q57742

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 13/12/16

Routine as usual. Specialist classes; work on defences GOC South Section. Capt Troup returned from hospital. Visit of GOC

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 14/12/16

Routine as usual. Specialist classes; work on defences.  GOC B section inspected Lewis gun teams.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 15 to 16/12/16

Routine as usual. Specialist classes; work on defences. Lt Adjutant AL Garraway returned to duty from 16th Brigade.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date17/12/16

Divine service and usual duties.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 18 to 21/12/16

Routine as usual. Specialist classes; work on defences

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 22 to 23/12/16

Routine as usual. Specialist classes; work on defences. GOC B Subertion visited.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 24/12/16

Routine as usual. Divine service.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 25 to 26/12/16

Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Both days observed as holidays. Lieut Holgers to hospital 26.12.16 from ASHTON

 

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 27/12/16

Routine as usual. Specialist classes; work on defences. 2nd Lieut Grundy 1/10 London Regt reported for duty as attachment. Lieut Morgan and MARGOLIOVITCH 1/10 London reported for duty on attachment.

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 28 to 30/12/16

Routine as usual. Specialist classes; work on defences

Locations ASHTON and SALFORD Date 31/12/16

Divine service as usual. Routines. Capt F S HAMMOND reported for duty. Orders as to move received.

Suez Canal Defences. Men of the 162nd Infantry Brigade, 54th East Anglian Division, impersonating a camel and camel man at a fancy dress competition. Christmas morning, 1916. Ashton Post. © IWM (Q 57771)

 

Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. A Christmas card from Egypt 1916

Greetings for Christmas and the New Year 

 Impressions of Egypt

The Finsbury Rifles produced their own Christmas card in 1916 to send home to family and friends. They were not alone; the 54th (East Anglian) Division, of which they were a part, also produced Christmas cards while in the Middle East. The cards would have been sent home long before Christmas as the post home could take several weeks. Many of the greetings cards produced by British Army units themselves during the war were grimly humorous in tone  but this card illustrates some of the sights of Egypt that the Finsbury Rifles encountered.

The battalion had been stationed by the pyramids at Mena near Cairo in early 1916 after the withdrawal from Gallipoli. Visiting the Great Sphinx at Giza was a popular trip during leave for soldiers in Egypt and indeed, Lt-Col Byrne had taken a photo of himself there after leaving the battalion in March 1917.

The designer of this card, L/Cpl J Jeffrys, did survive the war but we do not yet know anything more about him. Note the battalion’s own cap badge on the lower right hand side of the card.

Finsbury Rifles (Darren's images) 08A
Used with permission from Darren O’Brien

 

Finsbury Rifles (Darren's images) 08B
Used with permission from Darren O’Brien

 

Lt. Col. S.C. Byrne. Standing near the Sphinx, March 1917. © IWM Q57786

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