Mince pies from WWII found under hotel floorboard

A tin of at least 70-year-old mince pies sent to a sailor during World War II has been found — with the Christmas treats perfectly preserved — under the floor of a hotel, according to a report Monday.

The traditional British pastries were initially unearthed during a 1998 renovation of the Loch Hotel in Douglas on the Isle of Man but forgotten for a decade in storage at the Manx Museum, BBC News reported.

The fruit-filled pies were a gift from a mother to her sailor son, Able Seaman Phil Davis. They are now on display for the first time.

“This tin of mince pies illustrates the point that wars might be international events, but they impact at a very human level,” said Matthew Richardson, a curator of social history for Manx National Heritage. “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.”

Accompanying the “Squirrel Confections” tin was a letter from the Birmingham-based mom to Davis, who was attending a naval radar training school on the island.

The mom wrote about family and friends playing card games “for money” and preparing a spare room for guests.

“We shall be glad to see you when you do get leave,” she wrote.

It was signed, “best, love from mum.”

Soldiers and sailors during the war frequently holed up at hotels and boarding homes in the coastal town of Douglas.

Richardson said the pies, filled with chopped dried fruit and spices, may have been hidden in the floorboards to prevent them from being swiped by others. They may have been preserved thanks to the air-tight conditions under the floor of the hotel.

“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.

Richardson said putting the tin of treats out during Christmas was “the right time for them to shine.”

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

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