Patricia Mamic with the Salvation Army presents a box of doughnuts to Saanich News publisher Oliver Sommer. (Tim Collins/Black Press)

Salvation Army celebrates Doughnut Girls

The women who fried doughnuts and dodged bombs on the front lines

Representatives from the Salvation Army were handing out doughnuts around Greater Victoria Friday to commemorate the service and bravery shown by representatives of the organization more than a century earlier.

In 1917, Salvation Army officers and volunteers were sent to France to aid soldiers fighting in the First World War. In their efforts to encourage and assist the troops they initially offered the same wholesome activities they’d provided at home; religious services, the playing of music, hot cocoa and fudge.

Following 36 dreadful days of steady rain on the front, two young Salvation Army women decided that what the demoralized troops needed was something that reminded them of the sweetness of home.

They quickly got to work and gathered excess rations for dough and shell casings for makeshift rolling pins. They filled a soldier’s helmet with lard and fried braided crullers. The doughnuts were simple in flavour made with only a handful of ingredients but instantly became a hit. The fragrant smell of frying doughnuts drew the soldiers in and word went out, “If you’re hungry and broke, you can get something to eat at The Salvation Army.”

The women who often risked their lives in the service of others made a powerful impact on many around them.

“Before the war I felt that the Salvation Army was composed of a well-meaning lot of cranks. Now what help I can give them is theirs,” wrote Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of the former U.S. president, after serving in France.


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