The Minute Book
Sunday, 12 June 2016

Soldiers' Rations (1913)
Topic: Army Rations

Regarding the tobacco issued to the men who took part in the trial march, Lieutenant-Colonel Melville mentions that the majority of the men preferred private supplies.

Soldiers' Rations (1913)

Results of Experiments
New Scale Adopted

The Glasgow Herald, 17 December 1913

A Blue-book was issued last night containing a report on two experimental marches carried out under the orders of the Army Council in the autumns of 1909 and 1910 with a view to furnishing material for the purpose of deciding on a satisfactory scale of field service rations. In a preface to the document it is stated that in April, 1911, the Army Council appointed a committee to consider the reports on the two experimental marches. The committee recommended that:—

1.     The field service ration should be of 3 lb. weight and 4500 calories.

2.     The emergency ration should be abolished.

3.     Immediate steps should be taken to lighten the soldier's equipment.

4.     The water-bottle and mess tins should be made of aluminum.

5.     An iron ration should be adopted weighing 2 lb. 6 oz. to be packed regimentally in canvas wrappers constructed to hold two rations.

6.     The iron ration should be carried in the haversack or greatcoat or in waggons according to circumstances.

7.     One mincing machine per company should be issued.

The Council approve the proposed field service ration and abolished the emergency ration.

It was directed that experiments in lightening the equipment should be continued, but the proposal to use aluminum water bottles and mess tins was held over to ascertain the result of trials.

A further committee was appointed to consider the manner of carrying the iron ration, its composition, and the issue of mincing machines. This committee's recommendations as to the composition of the iron ration (namely, 1 lb. prepared meat, 6 biscuits, 3 oz. cheese, 1 grocery ration, and 2 cubes of meat extract), and the issue of various types of mincing machines for trial received the Council's approval. It was further decided that one iron ration should be carried on the soldier and that the second iron rations should usually be carried with the transport, and be transferred to the soldier to carry when likely to be required.

The reduction of the soldier's load by the transference of some ammunition from the man to transport waggons has also been approved.

Abolition of Potato Ration

In his report on experimental marches Lieutenant-Colonel Charles H. Melville, R.A.M.C., the superintending officer, explains that the energy value of the ration issued to the men on the first march was 3465 calories gross and the weight 3 lb. The Committee which carried out the experiments were of opinion that the amount of energy furnished under ordinary conditions of active service should be 4500 calories, and that there should be a certain elasticity about the scale permitting of an increase up to 5000 calories. They held that it was impossible to furnish as much as 4000 calories in a ration weighing only 3 lb. without introducing the defect of over-concentrating. The ration which they sketched admittedly contained this defect. It eliminated the potato ration, which possesses the least energy value of any of the constituents of the field service ration. Moreover, it is bulky and does not transport well. There is roughly 1000 calories of a deficiency between the energy standard of the old ration and the minimum proposed by the Committee. This deficiency, the Committee proposed, should be made up by substituting bacon and cheese for potatoes and doubling the jam ration. For a ration furnishing the energy of 4500 to 5000 calories without the defect of over-concentration the Committee consider that 3 ¾ lb. to 4 lb. was necessary.

Regarding the tobacco issued to the men who took part in the trial march, Lieutenant-Colonel Melville mentions that the majority of the men preferred private supplies. The brand issued, he says, was good but too strong. The men who used it complained of this. The taste of the class from which the men are drawn seems to have changed distinctly in this matter. Instead of the old-fashioned highly flavoured tobaccos they seem to prefer a lighter variety. A tobacco too strong for the taste of the individual using it is apt to cause digestive disturbances. No restrictions were placed on pipe smoking, but cigarettes were prohibited on the march and restricted to two or three times a day in camp.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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