WW2 mince pies found under Isle of Man hotel floorboards

  • Published
Wartime mince piesImage source, MNH
Image caption,
The mince pies were found during the renovation of a hotel that once housed soldiers and sailors

A tin of mince pies baked during World War Two has been put on display after being discovered immaculately preserved under the floorboards of a hotel.

The festive treats, which were a wartime gift from a mother to her sailor son, were uncovered at the Loch Hotel in Douglas on the Isle of Man.

They were found during the hotel's 1998 renovation but later left forgotten in storage at the Manx Museum.

The pies have now been placed on display for the first time.

It is thought that air-tight conditions under the hotel floor may have helped preserve the treats for almost 80 years.

They were addressed to Able Seaman Phil Davis and accompanied by a letter signed "best, love from mum".

Image source, MNH
Image caption,
A letter accompanying the pies was sent to Able Seaman Davis at HMS Valkyrie from an address in Birmingham

Matthew Richardson, curator of social history for Manx National Heritage, said they were a "unique" reflection of the "human" stories behind the war.

Christmas was "the right time for them to shine", he added.

Hotels and boarding houses along Douglas promenade were used to house soldiers and sailors during the war.

Mr Richardson said the pies may have been concealed under the floorboards to prevent them from being stolen by other soldiers.

"If you're in a shared room with five or six other men you don't know, the only way you could be sure of protecting what was yours was to find a place to hide it," he said.

Image source, Graham Shaw
Image caption,
An image of the Loch Hotel taken from a holiday brochure thought to be from the late 1960s

They emerged when the hotel was developed into apartments. A builder handed the items to the museum, where they were again hidden away in storage.

The letter found with the tin indicates Able Seaman Davis was attending a naval radar training school on the island.

The letter has news of happenings at the sailor's home in Birmingham, including details of family and friends playing a card game "for money", and making up a spare room for guests.

It also reads: "We shall be glad to see you when you do get leave."

Mr Richardson said: "This tin of mince pies illustrates the point that wars might be international events, but they impact at a very human level.

"Here was a young man, possibly away from home for the first time in his life, training to go to a war zone.

"We can only imagine what his mother was feeling as she posted this tin on to him.

"We can't say for sure why Able Seaman Davis never ate his mince pies. Perhaps he was posted away at short notice and didn't have time to retrieve them."

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