I love the way the writer stresses the Hull connection - local journalism at its irritating best. But there's more to enjoy in this short piece.
"A BAR IN GERMANY
Hull Guardsman Says "Time Please"
(By a Military Observer)
It is three minutes to nine in the bar of the "Deutsches Haus Hotel" in Verden, German town on the banks of the River Weser. And though it seems a disgustingly early hour at which to close a bar, the old familiar call of "Time, gentlemen, please" awakens the customers to the necessity of getting in another "quick one " before they are hustled out.
The bar may be German one — as also is the beer - but the customers are British soldiers of the Guards Armoured Division, who are occupying the surrounding area, and the man with the stentorian voice who warns them it "Time"" is Gdsmn. Griffin, whose wife lives at 13, Grant-ter., Scarborough-st., Hull.
The bar is just one department of a divisional canteen, and is under the care of former Berwick-on-Tweed farmer, Sgt. Allastair Forsyth, who is assisted by Gdsn. Griffin and a member of a well-known Normanton family of butchers, Gdsn. Fred Hampson (whose father's trade name is Hammond).
In the case of more adamant customers, loth to leave, Gdsn. Griffin throws etiquette to the winds, says a little more sternly "Drink up and get out." Sgt. Forsyth assists in the ceremony by giving a nearby oxygen cylinder a couple of resounding thwacks with a large spanner, and the stragglers take the hint.
ENGLISH BEER SHORTLY
The beer is generally acclaimed as being "not bad." On the other hand it is never referred to as "good." It is light lager, supplied from Bremen, with a four per cent, alcoholic content. "Our only regret," the staff assured me, "is that it isn't English beer. We hear that English beer is to be brewed in Hamburg, and we hope to get our hands on some of that shortly."
At the moment this German beer is served through German pumps in German half-pint glasses, and is paid for in German money (half a mark or threepence per half-pint). Not quite like the days we knew in the old Fox and Hounds or the Rose and Crown perhaps, but, even though no one has yet to be carried home, the lads feel they have had a drink of beer, out of a glass, in a pub — and that's a step in the right direction.
Altogether, the bar is run smoothly and capably. Gdsmn. Griffin adds nostalgic touch by addressing all his customers as "Sir." "Half a pint, sir. That'll be half a mark. sir. Thank you. sir." His speed of service in the crowded bar is becoming quite professional.
Throughout the campaign he has fought with an armoured battalion of Welsh Guards."
Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 04 July 1945, page 4.
It's clear from this quote "the lads feel they have had a drink of beer, out of a glass, in a pub" that the ability to drop by a pub was very important for British soldiers. I guess it brought a sense of normalcy to a pretty odd situation. After six years of fighting against Germany, there they were suddenly occupying it.
They were pretty lucky to get German beer in 1945. In many parts of the country they weren't brewing at all. Though, now I think about it, the occupying forces probably had first dibs on whatever was being brewed.
4% ABV is also a pretty decent strength. You'd have been lucky to find Bitter as strong as that.
|London draught Bitters in 1945|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002|
Er, maybe I'll take that back. One thing's certain - you wouldn't have got a pint for 6d in Britain. The cheapest beer in the table is more than double the price.
Back to those German breweries. I wonder which of the Bremen breweries was making their beer? Haake-Beck perhaps? The irony is, of course, that a century earlier they'd brewed IPA and Porter in Bremen.
What type of beer was the English beer they brewed in Hamburg? Bitter? Mild? Most likely one of those two.