The Gloucestershire Society in London held a Bohemian Concert in the Holborn Restaurant, London. The proceeds paid for 400 Christmas parcels to be sent to the boys of the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment on duty at the Front. The parcels contained a briar pipe, tobacco pouch, 2 oz tobacco, 50 cigarettes and matches. There were also 280 one pound tins of Fry’s chocolate with 24 bars per tin and 300 tins of 6 ounces of peppermints in each tin.
On Saturday 12th December 1914 at Whaddon Lane Football Ground a match took place between 9th vs 10th Battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment. Admission was 3d, (Military 1d) with proceeds to Gillsmith’s Motor Ambulance Fund for the Front.
There were many Cheltenham boys in the Territorial Force’s 5th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. In fact, their commanding officer was Frederick Tarrant, Bursar at Cheltenham Ladies College and among their officers was Cyril Winterbotham, brother of Councillor Percy Winterbotham, who himself later became an officer in the same battalion. Their sister Clara was Cheltenham’s first woman councillor and became the first female Mayor in 1921.
The Battalion was posted to Chelmsford for training during Christmas 1914 and few of the houses in which the boys were billeted had baths. The appeal went out from the YMCA to householders to please let the soldiers have a bath now and then. A system whereby bath tickets were issued allowed the troops to keep clean.
Miss Edith Skillicorne, the Lady Mayoress and sister of the Mayor, appealed for mittens for every one of the soldiers billeted in Cheltenham to be sent to her house at 9 Queen’s Parade. The knitters will need to be fast – her request in appeared in the paper of 11th December and she wanted the mittens knitted by 19th December!
On 5th December 1914, The Rector of Cheltenham Rev Dwelly asked for Christmas puddings from the townspeople for the soldiers. People were asked to “Kindly put your name on the bowl so that we may return them after use.”
The Soldiers’ Welcome held a Plum Pudding Supper on New Year’s Eve and expected 1,200 soldiers to attend!
“Christmas is Coming and the Boys are at The Rotunda”
Friday 13th and Monday 16th November 1914 Cheltenham was “invaded” by over 2,000 soldiers of the 9th and 10th Battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment, billeted in the old, empty houses, mainly in Lansdown. Officers of the 9th Battalion were billeted at the Queen’s Hotel and 56 sergeants at 2, Queen’s Parade.
The soldiers of the 9th Battalion were fed from a field kitchen, providing useful practice for cooking at the Front. Aldershot ovens were based in the garden of Bayshill House in Parabola Road, which is now a Cheltenham Ladies College house.