I’ve been lucky in the past few years to pick up some fun WWI shots of US female nurses and auxiliary service members photographed while serving overseas in 1918 and 1919. US women in France were vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts, and to be able to positively identify a nurse is a fun way to learn about female service roles during the war. In this case, I was able to purchase a small group of photos and a Thanksgiving menu from a woman in Base Hospital #6 stationed in Bordeaux, France during the war. The standing studio portrait was identified on the reverse as H.K. Judd of Base Hospital 6. On a whim I searched for Helen K. Judd (thinking that Helen was a likely candidate for H) and came up with a positive hit on a woman named Helen K. Judd from Southhampton, Mass. I cross referenced with the digitized passport records from 1917 and 1918 and had a positive match. Luckily the passport applications come with little snapshots of the applicants. The amount of material available to identify WWI photos is incredible.
So what was served up on Thanksgiving, 1918?
Given the recent cessation of hostilities on November 11th, the nurses and ailing soldiers of the AEF had a lot to be thankful for in 1918. How did they celebrate?
US Dietitian Ellen W. Wells was someone who likely put together the well-rounded meal seen in the above menu. With appetizers of celery and olives, the nurses, doctors and assorted hospital staff and wounded next moved to a main course of roast stuffed turkey, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, green peas and creamed onions. For desert they gorged on mince pie and an oddity in Europe, pumpkin pie. After dinner snacks included fruit, nuts, raisins, bon-bons and coffee. And to top it all off, the men and women were provided with cigars. What a meal!