Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Greetings From Camp Funston (1917)

After watching a story on the news this morning about 10,000 Sweet Martha's chocolate-chip cookies being baked for the overseas troops, I thought I would research "Christmas for the troops." After looking at what was written on the back of this postcard, however, my research went in a different direction.

This postcard is an example of a used card that is more interesting than an unused one. The message on the back is:

From A.R. K.

Camp Funston,
Co. C. 340 M.G.Bn.,

The name Funston seemed an odd name for a military camp, one more suited for a comic strip than a real camp.

I decided to google "Camp Funston" and was surprised at the amount of interesting information I found.

The basic facts are:

  • Camp Funston was built in 1917 with a capacity of over 50,000
  • It was the largest of sixteen divisional cantonment training camps constructed during World War One
  • The camp was named in honor of Major General Frederick Funston
  • It was built on the Fort Riley government reservation, near the Kansas River
  • Camp Funston still exists and is temporary housing for military personnel undergoing special training for duty in Iraq
  • Camp Funston was the source of the flu pandemic of 1918

The most interesting and surprising thing I found was a letter from a soldier written on December 26, 1917 that described the Christmas activities at Camp Funston where the weather was clear and cold with no snow:

  • 6:45—reveille
  • 8:00—marched to the arena about a mile from the barracks for stunts and races mingled with music; had a wild west show by the enlisted men with bronco busting, a tug of war, fancy roping and steer bulldogging
  • 12:00—letters and Christmas boxes from home were distributed
  • 1:00—filed to the mess for a menu of oyster soup, olives, turkey with dressing and gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread and butter, cranberry sauce, pies, cakes, fruits, candy, cigars, coffee and sweet cider
  • 2:00—rescued a wagon train laden with Christmas presents donated by the Red Cross and other societies that was attacked by Indian braves from the ranks
  • 5:00—ate the leavings, smoked, and lounged
  • 7:00—big fireworks display


  1. My father is has in his possession a very large panoramic print that has inscribed on the print:

    "30,000 soldiers enjoying Wild West Show at Camp Funston on Christmas Day 1917"

    It is a huge print that I have scanned and is a stunning photograph with incredible detail.

    My grandfather was in the WWI cavalry in France. I don't know if he was in attendance at this place at that time.

  2. I also have the same print as markh!! My father handed it down to me from his older brother who was in WWI. How cool that someone out there has the same photo!

  3. I survived the flu epidemic at Camp Funston. I have recently established a blog to post the letters and postcards I exchanged with my sweetheart "Minnie" in 1918-1919 while I was stationed there. If you are interested in following along, you may find them at

  4. 111 years old??

    Name: Ward Clarke Griffing
    Birth: 30 Jul 1897 - Manhattan, Kansas
    Death: 08 Oct 1967 - Manhattan, Kansas


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...