Original First World War cooking tips from an East Yorkshire serviceman

Sheila Grantham with Grandads Cook Book of First World War recipes and memories

Sheila Grantham with Grandads Cook Book of First World War recipes and memories - Credit: Archant

Sheila Grantham was only eight when her grandfather died in 1963. In the short time she knew him, she never thought to ask about his military service in the First World War; she was too busy enjoying his pickled onions – ‘the best I have ever tasted’ – and marvelling at his glass eye, which he kept in a glass of water by the side of the bed.

When her aunt died last year, however, she inherited her grandfather’s original 1915 exercise book in which he’d noted down all the recipes and tips he learned during his army catering training before being posted to France. To say her interest was piqued is something of an understatement.

She was touched and fascinated in equal measure to see her grandfather’s army life laid out before her in his own writing. And, as this year marks the 100th anniversary since the start of the First World War, she felt it was only right that she shared her find with others by printing 1,500 copies in book form with added biographical notes.

‘I thought that people would be interested because of the centenary and also because my grandad was a true Yorkshireman through and through with an interesting story to tell,’ she said.

Some of the recipes in Grandad’s Cook Book don’t include cooking instructions as Sheila has copied them exactly as they appeared in her grandfather’s exercise book, but they are still a strong evocation of a time when baking powder bread, beef tea and battered fruit were all on the menu.

‘I don’t suppose the men at the frontline always got the type of food or the amount as recommended in the book,’ she explained, ‘but this is an exact record of the catering training for the Army Service Corps as written by my grandad in 1915 when he did his training.’

Lewis, originally from Aldborough but a resident of Bilton-in-Holderness for all his adult life, was 30 when he joined the Army Service Corps in January 1915. His work on the land, particularly with horses, meant he was stationed with a horse transport unit, where he was selected to train as a chef.

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His company was involved in numerous battles during its time in France and at the end of the war Lewis returned home with the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, which later became known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred after characters in a popular Daily Mail comic strip.

Lewis Grantham’s original exercise book will be on display at the Treasure House in Beverley from July 12th until September, as part of its First World War exhibition. Sheila will be there on the launch day from noon to sign books.

Grandad’s Cook Book will be on sale at the Treasure House and is also available from eBay, Hull People’s Memorial, Eden Camp or directly from Sheila on 07927 655139 (£5.99, including postage).

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