Language selection

Canteens and estaminets

First World War Audio Archive

Canteens and estaminets


Picture of soldier in full uniform.

We was billeted, as a rule, along the Souchez Valley, and that was looking up towards Vimy Ridge and that was where the 46th usually was billeted, in billets on the hillside. Now, over the Ridge was, well you would say it wasn’t No Man’s Land, but it wasn’t billeting property. And they had a number of camps in there before you hit the Ridge. Like, one camp I remember we was in quite a lot was the St. Lawrence camp. And I’m going to tell you, they sure put you through it then. They sure gave you the

A different picture of soldier in full uniform.

works in drill, in cleaning, in everything. Then you’d take, if you wasn’t, as I say, you’re supposed to come out for a rest period, but you was on the march all the time. It was no rest period. You came out to take just a break. There wouldn’t be any periods just the same as you would be if you was in a camp. And unless it was called for a night march, which you had those occasionally, you would continue in the evenings and if you was close enough to an estaminet, you would go down there for a few drinks in that canteen. Your battalion units ran the canteens,

Children standing in front of man and women in what appears to be wedding outfits.

but outside of that, there were the, wherever the French could get you in there were the, there’d be a parlour on the side, they’d do it. It might be a tent, it might be a hut. I don’t remember too much because I never was much of a drinker, and it never interested me too much. You never saw in active service or even behind the lines, unless you was out right back into a French district, you’d never see a drunk. You were never hard up for reading. The YMCA used to provide you with a good portion of literature at all times, or the chaplain, there was a service called Chaplain Service and they would provide literature and there was, there was a lot of good literature, good clean

Back to first picture of soldier in full uniform.

literature. But there was the odd case of guys that stepped out. I remember one man, packing up his kit one day and put on his pack, he says, “Well boys, I’m going to leave you.” “Where are you going.” “Oh I gotta go (inaudible).” He had got a dose.

Mr. Bond describes several aspects of camp life.

Colin Bond

Colin Bond was born in Staffordshire, England, on June 5, 1897, and came to Canada with his family in 1912. Before war broke out, he had worked as a cotton worker and farm hand. He enlisted at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, on January 29, 1916, as an act of patriotism. He wanted to be a bugler. In England, he was with the 128th Battalion where he trained as a Lewis Gunner. He transferred to the 46th Battalion as a runner. Mr. Bond saw action at Vimy Ridge and was wounded in the lung by sniper fire advancing towards Amiens. He was subsequently hospitalized in France and England. After the war, Mr. Bond pursued several careers, including stationary engineer and professional gardener. He married Nellie Viola Moore. Mr. Bond died on August 31, 1977.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Colin Bond
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
128th Battalion
Lewis Gunner

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce


Related Videos

Date modified: