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Monday, April 6, 2015

Base Hospital 46 Banquets Here and There Part II -- Nurses Praise Lieutenant William G. Sutton: "We Certainly Have Someone in Our Outfit Who Knows How to Cook"

The second memorable banquet described by a Base Hospital 46 nurse in "Banquets Here and There" was the Thanksgiving feast prepared by Lieutenant William G. Sutton and the personnel of the mess department of the unit.

"Mess Detachment," Wight, On Active Service With Base Hospital 46, 120.
 This image from Otis Wight, et al. On Active Service With Base Hospital 46, pictures the mess detachment of Base Hospital 46. The text does not identify the personnel pictured, so we can't know which of the men is Lieutenant Sutton, who served the nurses a special, memorable banquet in October and then turned to preparations for Thanksgiving. It's tempting to think of Sutton as the man in the chef's hat pictured in the center of the group. All contributed to an unforgettable Thanksgiving feast for nurses and other staff and patients at the unit.

"We certainly have someone in our outfit who knows how to cook," the author of "Banquets Here and There" enthused. In addition to the "platters of turkey" she mentions, we learn from On Active Service with Base Hospital 46 that the turkey cost $1.00 per pound and preparation started a day in advance for meals that served nurses, medical officers, enlisted personnel and several hundred patients. (Wight, On Active Service with Base Hospital 46, 123.)

It appears that the nurses dined among themselves with the addition of "one lone man" as a guest who "seemed to enjoy things." The nurses did "stunts" at the end of the meal, including reciting poetry and singing. "Then everyone sang, and the party terminated, a howling success."

"Banquets Here and There" also reveals that the nurses picked up some French during their stay. The author refers to "mangering" [manger=to eat] and the "salle a manger" [dining room] and says one of the French women working there as a maid told them "Il ne faire rien a moi" -- "It doesn't have anything to do with me."

The praise the author of "Banquets Here and There" gave to Lieutenant Sutton's cooking and the fond memories of the banquets themselves suggests the importance of community and food in a difficult time of service.

"Banquets Here and There," pp 1-2, Box 9, Base Hospitals, World War I, Historical Records of the Army Nurses Corps Historical Data File, 1898-1947, Entry 10, Record Group 112, Records of the Office of Surgeon General [Army], National Archives, College Park, Maryland.