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Old 10-31-2014, 03:57 PM
Joe21 Joe21 is online now
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Default Mutton Stew

In late 1944, the former luxury liner SS George Washington, had zig-zagged across the Atlantic Ocean and deposited over 4,000 troops at Bootle, England, part of the Liverpool port complex. My company boarded an English train and away we went to an Army camp near Barton-Stacey in Southern England. This was a staging area for troops destined for the continent. I didn't learn much about Barton-Stacey during my short stay there but when I returned many years later I discovered a quaint little village.

When I classify a place as a "little" village, I suppose I should clarify my definition. Barton-Stacey had only one pub which also served as a three room B & B. The one general store was about as large as a two-car garage. One does not approach Barton-Stacey. When you get there, that's it. There was one sign. One side read, "Entering Barton-Stacey" and the other side read, "Leaving Barton-Stacey".

The former camp had been demolished many years ago and I was attempting to learn where the former camp was located by asking the local citizens. No one could offer any help but one of the local men told me that when he was a young boy his Dad had told him about a US Army camp being located nearby but he couldn't recall the exact site.

Our stay at Barton-Stacey was not very long but we did have two passes while there, one to Andover and one to London. Our most notable memory of Barton-Stacey was the mutton stew, served to us at almost every meal. I doubt if any of our men had ever tasted lamb. Lamb stew may have been an altogether different thing, but the mutton stew was awful. It tasted just like an old sheep smelled and that was not something to whet our appetite.

Leavitt (Spoon) Pope, Melvin (Bally) Balikov, Steve (Pollock) Kozak and me, (The Rebel) were best friends. Leavitt was from Bronxville, NY and a graduate of MIT with a double major in electrical engineering and business. In 1947, after his discharge, he was a co-founder of WPIX-TV in New York City and was CEO and President for about 25 years. Bally was Jewish and from Chicago. Steve was from Wilmerding, PA. All three of these super guys are now deceased.

After a few meals of mutton stew the four of us decided we would like a change in our menu. We decided our best opportunity for a good meal was a visit to the mess hall of the camp cadre.Then we developed our plan. Soon after the conclusion of the evening meal in our mess hall we were to visit one of the cadre's mess halls. We were familiar with the IG inspections of mess halls when we were in the states and our plan was to make a mess hall inspection. We found a clipboard and paper and designated Spoon as our leader. The other three of us were to do most of the inspection and announce our ratings in a loud voice to Spoon to record.

We entered the mess hall and asked for the mess sgt. We told him we were from the IG's office and were there for a routine inspection. We apologized for arriving past the meal hour but had been detained at another location. In the meantime we began checking the tables, floors, pots & pans, cooking and eating utinsils, etc. We we shouting out to Spoon high ratings while pointing out insignificant items which would have no outcome on the final rating. In the meantime our high ratings had the kitchen staff eating out of our hands. Spoon then asked to see a copy of the evenings menu and then asked if there was any food left for his staff to sample. The kitchen crew went to the refrigerators, removed some food, heated it up and served us a meal. We gave the food high ratings but any food would have been better than the mutton stew we had been eating. We finished our meal, thanked the staff for their cooperation and informed the mess sgt. he would receive an excellent rating and told him an official report from the IG's office should arrive in about two weeks.

Our company shipped out for the continent a few days later but during our final days at Barton-Stacey we did not venture close to the cadre mess hall.

Last edited by Joe21; 10-31-2014 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:20 AM
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plumbtiger plumbtiger is offline
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Default Re: Mutton Stew

More good stuff, Mr. Joe!
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