Menu for a A.I.F. Christmas dinner at the Hotel Cecil, The Strand, London, given to members of the Australian Military and Naval Forces under the Auspices of the High Commissioner for Australia, the Agents General for the States of the Commonwealth, Australian Branch, British Red Cross Society, Australian Comforts Fund, Australian War Contingent Association, A.I.F. and War Chest Club, and the Australian Branch Y.M.C.A., in December 1916.
The dinner was described in The Globe, Wednesday 20 December 1916:
'XMAS CHEER FOR AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS. A programme for the Christmas entertainment of Australian soldiers leave from France and convalescents has been arranged under the auspices of the High Commissioner for Australia, the Agents-General, and the following organisations: Australian War Comforts Fund, Australian Branch the British Red Cross Society, Australian Branch the Y.M.C.A., A.1.F., and War Chest Club, and the Australian War Contingent Association, and Anzao Buffet. On Christmas Day about 1,400 soldiers will be entertained to dinner at the Hotel Cecil. The dinner will commence at 12.30. From the Hotel Cecil the men will march to the London Opera House, which has been generously lent by Mr. Oswald Stoll. At this theatre 2,500 Australian soldiers will be entertained by leading theatrical and music hall artists. The entertainment commences at 3 o'clock, and will finish at about 5.30.'
Guests at the dinner included Andrew Fisher, recently Prime Mininster of Australia, High Commissioner for Australia Lord Denman, the former Governor; and the 'irrepressible' Sir George Reid, the former High Commissioner (Daily Mirror, 26 Dec 1916). Over 1,500 soldiers joined him, considerably more than was planned.
The London Opera House entertainment program is also held by Museums Victoria - ST 037619.
The Cecil was a huge hotel built in the 1890s which included residential suites, available for rent at reduced rates during the early years of World War I. The month after the dinner, in January 1917, the Hotel Cecil was taken over by the Government for the war effort.
Description of Content
MENU FOR A.I.F. CHRISTMAS DINNER GIVEN TO MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN MILITARY AND NAVAL FORCES, LONDON 1916.
White card Australian Imperial Forces Christmas Cheer, Christmas dinner London 1916, with red, blue and black lettering. On the front cover is a drawing of a soldier kneeling down and boiling a billy. (Picture by Fred Leist). The dinner was held at the Hotel Cecil, Strand, London, 1916. Inside the menu is surrounded by a drawing of a eucalypt tree by the shore of a river with a kookaburra perched in a branch. A caption reads 'Keep the billy boiling'.
The images on the document depicts the Australian soldier's supposed links with 'the bush'.
The programmes are from 1916, official Christmas entertainment provided for Australian soldiers stationed in England. This program was used in the Museum's Web Site, 'Imagining Australia 1914 - 1918, to help students think about the image of the Australian soldier overseas and how this image was created and fostered.
Donation from Ms Jean Bourke, 07 Sep 1988
Place & Date of Event
Front cover: 'Australian Imperial Force Christmas Cheer London 1916 Keep the Billy Boiling', Picture of a soldier kneeling down and boiling a Billy, (Picture by Fred Leist). Hotel Cecil, Strand, London, 1916. Signature on cover is illegible. Christmas Dinner Given to Members of the Australian Military and Naval Forces under the Auspices of: the High Commissioner for Australia, the Agents General for the States of the Commonwealth, Australian Branch, British Red Cross Society, Australian Comforts Fund, Australian War Contingent Association, A.I.F. and War Chest Club, and Australian Branch Y.M.C.A. show the Menu for the night. The menu is surrounded by a drawing of a eucalypt tree by the shore of a river with a kookaburra birched in a branch. Music provided by the Band of His Majesty's Irish Guards, Bandmaster Mr C.H. Hassall. The back cover shows a picture of sheep and there farmers near a river, the picture is in the shape of the Map of Australia, also the invitation to the dinner.
Type of item
15.5 cm (Length), 11.4 cm (Width), 0.1 cm (Height)
The dinner is described in Globe - Wednesday 20 December 1916, accessed via [Link 1] 15 Dec 2018; also Daily Mirror - Tuesday 26 December 191, accessed via [Link 2] accessed 15 Dec 2018. Information on the takeover of the Cecil Hotel from The Globe, Friday 19 Jan 1917, p.5, accessed via [Link 3] 15 Dec 2018; also Broad Arrow - Wednesday 17 May 1916, accessed via [Link 4] 15 Dec 2018.