By Anthony Clayton
The paintings has been compiled from files within the Royal Logistic Corps Museum at Deepcut, from memoirs, letters and interviews, and from the excellent choice of regimental histories within the library of the Royal army Academy Sandhurst. All royalties end result of the writer for this publication can be despatched to the military Benevolent Fund, the warriors’ Charity.
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Additional info for Battlefield Rations: The Food Given to the British Soldier For Marching and Fighting 1900-2011
The normal higher rate, just over 4,000 – 4,200 calories, was: Meat, fresh or frozen 1lb Bacon 4 ozs Bread 1lb or 10 ozs biscuits Butter 2 ozs (three times per week) Jam 3 ozs Tea ⅝ oz Sugar 3 ozs Condensed Milk 1 oz Oatmeal 3 ozs (three times a week) Potatoes 2 ozs Fresh vegetables 8 ozs (or 2 ozs dried vegetables) Salt, pepper, mustard If available a portion of cheese and two cubes of meat extract were added but accounts suggest this was not always the case. The intention was that the meat, usually bully beef, and the bread should be carried in large packs by the unit’s wagons, available for cooking for a hot meal with any other food to hand.
Each company cooker had a large number of ‘dixies’, large cooking pots and the equipment needed to have a fire, if necessary above a dug-out trench. Food was prepared in fifty minutes from the cooker when assembled, but with the massive expansion of the wartime Army many of the cooks still lacked training or experience with often, in the words of one history the result was ‘great goblets of fat floating in the enormous stew dixies’. In France brigades and divisions ran cooking courses but the field conditions prevented much real improvement beyond the occasional making of rissoles from bully beef, powdered biscuit and bacon fat or a boiled currant pudding from powdered biscuit and bacon drip for lard.
On a few occasions tinned mutton replaced beef, a much welcome change. Later in the war one pound tins of ‘Maconochie’, a meat and vegetable stew which could be eaten hot or cold became available. Popular at first it was soon found to make soldiers liable to flatulence and over any long period jaundice. Quaker Oats, perhaps, also arrived. An important local addition used by almost all regiments was the local maize meal, eaten as a vegetable or ground down for porridge. Grinding machines were found and put to use.
Battlefield Rations: The Food Given to the British Soldier For Marching and Fighting 1900-2011 by Anthony Clayton