It has often been said that soldiers during wartime are bored ninety-nine per cent of the time. The other one per cent of their lives, of course, is sheer terror. But what do soldiers do when they are not training, marching, fighting, and preparing for war? Certainly, their thoughts are focused away from the battlefield and on family and loved ones and the normalcy of ordinary life. During both World Wars, regiments entertained themselves in order to boost morale.
Life Away from the Front
At about 9:45 pm on 30 March 1915, a German soldier named Otto Hartmann readied himself to sleep on a chaise-lounge well known for its softness in the day duty officer’s shack at the Rennfeld prisoner-of-war camp in Münster, Westphalia, where more than two hundred prisoners had just arrived from Giessen and Darmstadt. Stationed quite close to his wife Ada and their three children in Minden, he had been spending his free time eating eisbein and sauerkraut and drinking beer with fellow soldiers.
Fresh with enthusiasm to accomplish his part in the war, Aircraftman (AC) Francis J. “Wit” McDaniel arrived at Hastings, England in May 1942 to await posting as an erk (aircraft maintenance crewman). He was not uninformed about the nature of his imminent service. His elder brother Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Bernard M. “Bain” McDaniel, a member of the ground crew of No.