The Minute Book
Saturday, 12 November 2016

English Soldiers Cookbook
Topic: Army Rations

English Soldiers Cookbook

Several Recipes That Are Sanctioned by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army

Meriden Morning Record, Meriden, Connecticut, 22 January 1900
(From the London Mail.)

Occasionally one hears a great deal about the bad cooking and insufficient food of British soldiers. Every now and again some fadist takes the matter up and tries to lead the public to believe that our troops are condemned to live entirely upon unpalatable food.

Here are three recipes from "Tommy's" cookery book which are sanctioned by no less than the commander in chief himself:

Meat Soup.

"Ingredients: Sixteen and one-half pounds meat, one pound onions, one pound flour, five ounces salt, one-fourth ounce pepper, five ounces sugar, small faggot of herbs, 3 1/2 gallons of water.

"Cut the meat into pieces about four ounces, take eight ounces of the fat and chop it up; slice the onions. Put the fat in the boiler; when melted, add the onions; stir them well, so that they do not get brown. In five minutes add the meat, which keep stirring or turning over for five minutes longer. Then add the boiling water by degrees; let it simmer gently for one hour. Mix the flour with cold water very smoothly, add it to the soup, with the salt, pepper, sugar and herbs. Simmer gently for 30 minutes; keep stirring to prevent flour from settling at the bottom."

No doubt the result of these careful operations is a most sustaining and excellent soup, and one wonders how many artisans or laborers get anything better for dinner.

The recipe for "a hurried dinner" is much less elaborate; but if soldiers opinions go for anything, it is by no means a bad one. It is as follows:

"Cut your ration of meat into pieces about the size of a penny, but three of four times thicker. Skewer them only a piece of iron wire or hard stick. A few minutes will cook them if hung before the fire."

Plum pudding in "Tommy's" cookery book"

"Put into a basin one pound of flour, three-fourths pound of raisins (stoned, if that can be allowed), three-fourths pound of the fat of salt pork (well washed, cut into small dice or chopped), and two tablespoonfuls of sugar, or treacle. Add half a pint of water, mix all together; put into a cloth tied tightly; boil for four hours and serve. If time will not admit, boil only for two hours, though four are preferable."

There seems a touch of human nature about the war office, after all.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 21 October 2016

Recipes from Tobruk (1941)
Topic: Army Rations

Recipes from Tobruk (1941)

Diggers as Cooks

The Age, Melbourne, Australia, 4 October 1941

The ingenuity of the men in the Tobruk garrison has extended to cooking. The mother of a gunner who has been in Tobruk for some seven months received a letter in which he gave her some of the recipes submitted at a recipe competition held among the gun crews.

The first is called "Fig Tree Hamburger." The gunner writes:—

"Take 2 tins of bully beef, 1 tin of bacon, 2 handfuls of flour and 3 onions. Cut the bully beef, bacon and onions finely. Mix two-thirds of the flour with a little water to make a thick paste. Mix the bully beef, bacon and onions in and mould into small rissoles, roll in the flour, fry in boiling margarine and serve hot with potato chips. This is enough for six men."

"In the sweet department," he continued, "there is Libyan flap-jack. Take three cups of flour and half a cup of oatmeal, and mix with enough water to make a thick liquid. Add a quarter cup of milk, half a teaspoon of marmite and 2 oz. of grated cheese. Mix and fry as a pancake in margarine."

"Marrow has been plentiful," he added, "and can be stuffed with rice and bully beef and roasted. Even bully beef with other ingredients can be made into something edible."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Bacon for the Garrison (Halifax, 1908)
Topic: Army Rations

Bacon for the Garrison (Halifax, 1908)

Militia Department Gets It Cheap, but Soldiers Don't Like It—May Be Roll Bacon

The Montreal Gazette, 10 April 1908

Halifax, N.S., April 9.—(Special.)—The prices quoted in the House of Commons by the Militia Department as paid to J.F. Outhit on his contract for supplies of breakfast bacon to the Halifax garrison were interesting to the trade in this city. The parliamentary return shows that J.F. Outhit tendered to supply the Militia Department with breakfast bacon at 13 3/4 cents per pound. The packers' wholesale price for breakfast bacon all last year was 15 cents. No one could buy it for less from any reliable packer. In 1906 Outhit tendered at 14 cents, and this year his tender is 13 3/4 c, the packers' wholesale price being 14 c. At this rate, in three years, the loss would be about $1,500, the quantity taken each year being about 47,000 pounds. It is to be noted that while breakfast bacon was worth 14 and 15 cents at the packers' warehouses, roll bacon was offered at 10 5/8 cents. The question is asked: was there a mistake under which the garrison may have got roll bacon instead of breakfast bacon. Davis & Fraser say that such was the case. The department asserts that the supply officer of the department, Major E. Dodge, made no complaint, but the rank and file of the garrison complained bitterly. Often the men refused to eat the bacon, and it became a custom for the soldiers to take this bacon to the canteen, which is run as a private venture at the barracks, and get that institution to take the bacon at a valuation, and, instead of money, take other goods that they could eat in exchange for it.

This bacon affair at the barracks has been a fruitful source of trouble, and the soldiers say that even is the supply officer does not complain about it, the amount of breakfast bacon they received seemed small, and was seen at rare intervals. The soldiers think that Judge Cassels, who is to report on the Civil Service Commission's report, could very profitably spend a portion of his time looking into the Halifax military contracts. They think he might learn a lot.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Fudge Block Army Ration (1941)
Topic: Army Rations

Fudge Block Army Ration (1941)

Piece de Resistance Gives Food Value and Satisfies Sweet Tooth

Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania, 10 July 1941

Atlanta, July 10 (AP)—The piece de resistance of "iron rations" issued American soldiers on the arch is a domino-size fudge block—a sugary hunk that packs 125 calories of energy.

The army itself concocted the recipe for the one-ounce piece of candy serving the dual purpose of packing in the food value and satisfying the fighting man's sweet tooth. Vitamin C in the form of brewer's yeast is added in the ingredients of corn sugar and cane sugar, chocolate, vegetable fat, powdered egg albumen and powdered milk.

New Item on Display

This new item was on display along with an innovation in lollipops—a sucker employing a cord loop instead of a stick so the stumbling youngster won't spike his throat—in the exhibit room of three candy conventions in progress here.

The candy industry is gearing its production line to the national defense theme in two other items, said Philip C. Gott, of Chicago, president of the National Confectioners Association.

One is a four-ounce high vitamin candy block for parachute troopers and the other a salty gum drop fed to soldiers in sultry sections to replace body salt lost through perspiration.

The candies made for the army are not available to civilian retail trade, Gott said. Manufacturers who wish to bid on them obtain the recipes from the Quartermaster Corps, and rigid inspection is conducted, he added.

Given Exhaustive Trial

The type C or "iron rations" menu got an exhaustive test in the recent Tennessee maneuvers and the Fourth Corps Area quartermaster's office here, which feeds one-third of the U.S. Army, reported "excellent results."

Three of the one-ounce candy blocks go into a day's "iron rations" and other items include meat, vegetables, biscuits and soluble coffee. All are canned, conserving space and load.

"We could concoct a chemically pure food for soldiers, which the boys wouldn't eat—the army's food has to taste good," Lieut. Col.Rohland A. Isker said of the candy ration. Isker is in charge of the subsistency research laboratories of the army.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 8 October 2016

Tabloid Food Ousts Tommy's Bully Beef (1932)
Topic: Army Rations

Tabloid Food Ousts Tommy's Bully Beef (1932)

Scientific Ration to replace Soldiers' Tinned Food

The Pittsburgh Press, 21 March 1932

London, March 22.—The familiar bully beef tin is about to make way for a scientific food tablet in the British Tommy's pack.

The new emergency ration is a four-inch block of concentrated sugar, cocoa powder, tea powder, beef powder, oil of lemon and cocoa butter. It will sustain a man for 24 hours.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 12 August 2016

Food is Vital (US Army, 1945)
Topic: Army Rations

Food is Vital

US War Department Pamphlet 35-3, WAC Life, May 1945

In the Army the needs of the vigorously exercised body become matters of primary urgency and concern. A well-balanced diet is essential to sustained efficiency.

You can count on being provided with an abundance of nourishing foods. All means are carefully planned to provide a diet with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates necessary to keep you in good physical condition.

If you eat a little of everything that is placed before you, you will not suffer from "hidden hunger." Don't take a finicky dislike to unfamiliar foods. You need stamina to see you through your job.

Rations Vary

In the Army, "mess" means a meal, or in broader terms, all meals.

"Ration" was originally defined as the money value of a person's food for 1 day. Today it has come to mean the allowance of actual food for one person for 1 day. When money is paid in lieu of rations it is spoken of as a "ration allowance"

"Garrison rations" are the food issued to troops in camps and stations in peacetime.

"Field Ration A" is the wartime equivalent of the garrison ration. It includes perishable items such as fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. It represents the healthiest, best-balanced three square meals possible. It is served in mess halls in the United States.

"Field Ration B" is the ration normally issued for troops overseas. In nutritive content it approximately equals Field Ration A, but does not include any foods which require refrigeration or which cannot be stored and shipped. Most of the foods are canned or dehydrated. When properly cooked, this ration provides palatable, filling, and nourishing meals.

There are various, other field rations intended for specific situations, and others are being introduced, tested, and considered. The ones you may hear mentioned frequently are the following:

"Field Ration C" is composed of canned foods issued to individuals when it is not practical for a unit to carry bulk supplies.

"Field Ration D" consists of very highly concentrated chocolate bars for use by individuals in emergencies.

"Field Ration K" consists of paraffin-coated boxes of foods for use by individuals in combat situations.

The Army also provides specialized rations for life boats, for stranded pilots and parachutists, etc. For a description of types of rations, see AR 30-2210.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 31 July 2016

What Soldiers Have For Food (1914)
Topic: Army Rations

What Soldiers Have For Food (1914)

The Day, New London, Connecticut, 16 October 1914

The suffering from hunger said to have been experienced by great numbers of German soldiers during the present war is alleged in the news despatches to have been due largely to the fact that they were not provided with emergency rations. This, if true, is certainly surprising, inasmuch as the Kaiser's troops are ordinarily supplied with the best of all concentrated food, in the shape of "erbswurst," or pea sausage—a species of provender so sustaining, and furnishing so much nourishment in small bulk, that the Prussians 44 years ago declared that without it they could not have endured as they did the fatigues of the rapid campaign against the French.

If such value is this peas sausage as a war food that an effort was made to utilize it in the British army. But Tommy Atkins would have none of it—illustrating the fact that a ration found suitable for the fighting man of one nation is not necessarily acceptable to those of another. A war food must be not only wholesome and nutritious, but also palatable, and national tastes in matters gustatory differ. Some years ago an attempt was made to introduce in the German army a biscuit composed of meat and flour, but the soldiers refused to eat it.

An emergency or "iron" ration is not meant to be eaten under any ordinary circumstances, but only when the soldier finds himself separated from his command and cut off from the supply train. Then only is he permitted to utilize his small store of condensed provender, which he carries in his knapsack, in order to avoid starvation. For this purpose the German fighting man is provided with a one-pound can of preserved meat, a small quantity of hard bread, and a pea sausage. The same kind of sausage, however, is an important part of the regular ration. It is eight inches long, is wrapped in white cloth, bag-fashion (tied at one end with a string), looks somewhat like a fat firecracker, weighs eight ounces, and its contents emptied into a pot of boiling water, will make 12 plates of excellent porridge.

This kind of sausage owes its invention to a cook, whose rights to manufacture it were purchased by the German government for $25,000. It is composed of pea meal, fat and bacon, with a few other ingredients added for flavouring. The most important point, however, is the method of its preparation, by which it is rendered proof against decay or deterioration. Hard as a brickbat, it will keep perfectly good for years.

The Belgian emergency ration is a ten-ounce can of corned beef, put up in a liquor flavoured with vegetables. For the same purpose the British use a compressed pea soup. At the opening of the Afghan war, in 1878, an enterprising Englishman supplied the army with this product, in the form of a yellow soup, put up in four-ounce cans, bearing directions that the contents be mixed with a quart or so of water and then boiled to the proper thickness. When General "Bobs" made his famous march on Kandahar, his troops were fed almost wholly on this soup, which occupied such a small space that a single mule could carry a day's food for the whole battalion. Subsequently, in the Zulu and other campaigns it was largely utilized.

The popularity of peas as a war diet is attributable to the fact that they are the most nutritious of known foods, surpassing in this respect even lean meat. Another advantage they have over meat is that they afford what is called a "balanced ration," containing as they do both fuel stuff to keep the fighting machine going and "protein" to make muscle and blood. The army soup above described is made by steam-roasting the peas, grinding them fine, adding some beef extract for stock (with suitable seasoning), and reducing the mixture to the smallest possible bulk by elaboration and pressure.

The British army also uses a kind of hard bread which looks something like a dog biscuit, four inches square and weighing three ounces. It is of whole wheat, compressed—a sort of condensed loaf. For the Russian troops in the field is provided a "war bread," the ingredients of which, as well as the process for making it, are a government secret. When a piece of it is put into hot water or soup, it swells up like a sponge, and is said to taste much like fresh bread.

Vegetables are necessary to health. Accordingly, Whenever practicable they are supplied as part of the regular ration of an army. The French have a concentrated mixture of vegetables and meat, which comes in six ounce tin boxes, holding 21 tablets wrapped separately in red paper. One of these, dropped into a pint of boiling water yields a plate of delicious soup.

Onions and carrots are deemed especially valuable. The German army is supplied with carrots evaporated to absolute dryness and granulated to the size of snipe shot. Onions are provided in one pound tins, similarly desiccated. There is much water in onions, so that this quantity of the concentrated vegetable is equal to ten pounds of the fresh. One pound represents a day's ration for 48 men. Cabbages, prepared in the same way, come in four ounce tablets.

The old process of evaporation by heat is not used in the preparation of concentrated vegetables for use by the European armies now in the field, because it incidentally deprives the cabbages, onions, or what not of the volatile essential oils and ethers which have much to do with their flavours. A method of comparatively new invention is employed, the material being shredded, spread on shallow trays, and run on cars into a tunnel through which dry air of only moderate warmth is continually passing. The dry air sucks the moisture out of the vegetables, which, when out up in tine with screw tops, will keep indefinitely. When wanted for use, it is necessary merely to restore the water, incidentally to cooking. The taste like fresh vegetables. Soup greens preserved as a mixture in this fashion are particularly good.

The main standby of the Japanese troops now moving against the Germans in the far east is rice—not supplied in the raw state, be it understood, but cooked and there-upon made water free by evaporation and pressure. It is furnished to the soldiers in the shape of balls, one of which, dropped into a pot of boiling water in camp, affords a hearty meal for several men. Or if preferred, the balls may be cut into slices and roasted.

Another item of the British rations is desiccated beef, one ounce of which is equal to five ounces of ordinary meat. It is absolutely water-free, and so hard that the fighting man can hardly cut it with a jack-knife. He chops off a small hunk of it, puts it into a little machine resembling a coffee mill and grinds it up. It comes out in small shavings, which may be eaten on bread or used for soup stock. Two ounces of this beef will make soup for eight soldiers.

Mutton is supplied in the same way, in little rectangular blocks three inches long, two inches wide, and one inch thick. A manufacturer in England who puts up such concentrated food for army use says that he can compress the edible parts of ten sheep into the bulk of one cubic foot. Into the same space he can condense 3,000 eggs, rendered water-free by evaporation and reduced to the hardness of a brick by hydraulic pressure.

The news despatches a few days ago stated that the German crown prince had wired to Berlin for large supplies of tobacco, needed immediately for his troops. An American woman in London gave $20,000 to the British war fund, expressing a wish that the money be spent in the purchase of "chewing" and "smoking" for the soldiers of the expeditionary force now fighting in France. There is no doubt that the idea was an excellent one, judging from an opinion expressed on the subject not long ago by our own military authorities.

The bureau of subsistence of our war department, in an official report said: "Under the influence of tea, coffee or tobacco a man seems to be brought to a higher efficiency than without them. They keep up cheerfulness and enable soldiers to endure fatigue and privations, while deprivation of them may cause depression, homesickness, feebleness and indeed may lead to defeat in battle. Depressed troops do not fight well. A wise military leader will see to it that he men are not deprived of tobacco, or he will regret his carelessness.

The British soldiers now fighting in France, privates as well as officers, take their cup of tea regularly. It is a national habit which even battles can hardly interrupt. Also, the commissariat provides candy, which the men are encouraged to buy. In our own army candy (a highly concentrated kind of food) is supplied—not chocolate creams and bonbons, of course, because they too are perishable, but such sweets as lemon drops, hard gum drops and chocolate.

The enormous total quantity of provender required to supply armies that number millions of men may be judges from the fact that in 24 days a soldier consumes just about his own weight in food and water. Half the water he takes into his body is in the food, the other half is drink. The total dry matter in the food consumed daily is in round numbers one per cent of the weight of the body. Thus in 100 days a man weighing 150 pounds will absorb his own weight of dry matter—not reckoning, that is to say, the water his food contains.

Speaking of water, it is curious how many different solutions of the canteen problem have been found by various nations. The canteen carried by the British soldier is of glass, covered with canvas. That of the Italian fighting man is of wood, while the Spaniard's water vessel is a goatskin. The regulation canteen os the United States army is of tinned iron.

For emergency rations our own army formerly used a mixture of dried lean meat and toasted cracked wheat. This, deprived of moisture and pressed to the hardness of a brick, was put up in three packets, each containing also a tablet of chocolate—the whole representing one day's meals, to be carried in the knapsack.

Special machinery was required to put the stuff up, and the war department, in order to make it worth while for the manufacturer to produce it, was obliged to order it each year in large quantities. It had to be used up somehow and, to get rid of it, was fed out to the soldiers at army posts, who were thus obliged, however unwillingly, to consume emergency rations for their regular meals. As may well be imagined, there was much grumbling.

In 1910 a new kind of emergency ration was adopted. It was a mixture of chocolate, sugar, egg and malted milk, put up is such a shape as to look like ordinary commercial chocolate, in flat cakes wrapped in tinfoil. Three cakes, three meals. Weight, 12 ounces for the three, including the can containing them.

What has already been said will serve to show that the soldiers of the various armies now fighting in Europe are much better and more luxuriously fed than troops in any previous war in history. It costs money, but it pays; for, other things being equal, it is the well fed man that wins in battle, when opposed by an under-fed adversary.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 24 July 2016

Army Rations for One Day
Topic: Army Rations

Army Rations for One Day

What Soldiers of Various Countries Have While on March

Morning Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 2 December 1908
London Special to New York Times.

Herman Senn, the organizer of the Universal Cookery and Food Exhibition, which has just been opened here, has received, as one of the most interesting exhibits, specimens of the ideal army rations of the leading countries of the world. The exhibits present a day's rations for men on the march, and nearly every country is represented.

The Japanese dietary scale is the most frugal, and is as follows:

  • Rice – 5.64 oz.
  • Meat – 7.05 oz.
  • Fish (which may be had Instead of meat) – 3.50 oz.
  • Cabbage Or other vegetable – 5.29 oz.
  • Biscuit – 20.00 oz.
  • Tea. – .71 oz.

Great Britain's soldier gets in one day:

  • Fresh moat – 1 1/4 lb.
  • Or, preserved meat – 1 lb.
  • Bread – 1 1/4 lb.
  • Or biscuit or flour – 1 lb.
  • Tea – 5/8 oz.
  • Jam – 1/4 lb.
  • Sugar – 2 oz.
  • Salt – 1/2 oz.
  • Pepper – 1/36 oz.
  • Fresh vegetables – 1/2 lb.
  • Or dried vegetable – 2 ox.
  • Or preserved fruit – 4 oz.
  • Lime juice (with 1/2 oz. sugar on days when fresh vegetables are not issued) – 1/20 gill.
  • Rum – 1/4 gill.
  • Tobacco (per week), not exceeding – 2 oz.

The scale of Germany is as follows:

  • Bread – 26.60 oz.
  • Or biscuit – 17.00 oz.
  • Fresh or salt meat – 13.00 oz.
  • Or salted beef or mutton – 9.00 oz.
  • Or bacon – 5.70 oz.
  • Rice – 4.40 oz.
  • Barley or groats – 4.40 oz.
  • Or peas, beans or flour – 8.60 oz.
  • Potatoes – 52.80 oz.
  • Salt – .70 oz.
  • Coffee (roasted) 1.00 oz.

The French soldier on a march gets per day:

  • Meat without bone – 8.40 oz.
  • Bread – 35.30 oz.
  • Or biscuit – 26.50 oz.
  • Dried vegetables – 2.12 oz.
  • Salt – .50 oz.
  • Sugar – .70 oz.
  • Coffee – .60 oz.

The Belgian dietary scale includes concentrated bouillon. Prunes, tomatoes and apples are among the American soldier's rations, and the Dutch army's diet includes horseflesh.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2016 12:07 AM EDT
Tuesday, 19 July 2016

An Officers' Mess on Active Service
Topic: Army Rations

An Officers' Mess on Active Service

The Age, Melbourne , Australia, 31 January 1900

Mr. W.C. Hannah, a son of the Vicar of Brighton, went to Ladysmith to secure from officers of the Leicestershire Regiment details of the death of his brother, Lieutenant Hannah, who was the first officer killed at Dundee. Mr. Hannah, in the course of his letter, dated 3rd November, says:—

"I dined with the Dundee column last night. I will give you a description of this dinner as showing how Burns's "gilded popinjays" fare when times are warlike. To begin with, there was no sign of furniture either in the mess-room or the ante-room. If you wanted to sit down you did so on the floor. We each got hold of a large tin mug, and dipped it into a large tin saucepan of soup and drank it, spoons not existing. A large lump of salt was passed round, and every one broke off a piece with his fingers. Next you clawed hold of a piece of bread and a chunk of tongue, and gnawed one and then the other—knives and forks there were none. This finished the dinner. Add to this two or three tallow candles stuck on a cocoa tin, and the fact that none of the officers had shaved, or had their clothes off for a week, and had walked some 45 miles through rivers and mud, and you will have some idea of how the officers' mess of one of the smartest of her Majesty's foot regiments do for themselves in times of war. Not a murmur of complaint was to be heard."

elipsis graphic

The "Gilded Popinjays" Reference

John Burns, M.P., on Militarism

The following extract from a speeh by Burns was published in The Herald of Peace and International Arbitration, Volumes 23-24, 1st February, 1895:

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 16 July 2016

Tommy Well Fed in the Field
Topic: Army Rations

Tommy Well Fed in the Field

Army Rations Displayed for Inspection at the Front

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 4 April 1915
(Correspondence of Associated Press)

British General Headquarters in France, March 23.—A picture that will linger in the memory of the newspapermen who visited the front as guests of the British staff, was the sight of the army rations, in all their variety or lack of variety, laid out for inspection on a hotel table, and looking not unlike a study of the contents of a larder of a Dutch painter.

There was beef and mutton, a pound of each (the fresh meat ration is one pound). There were large tins of pressed beef which vary the fresh meat or are taken when fresh meat can not be got. There was a two-pound loaf of excellent bread and the alternative ration of biscuit. The biscuits, according to the soldiers, are a vast improvement on the South African war biscuit. There are fresh vegetables, including onions; there was tea, sugar and jam, of which the English soldier in inordinately fond, and by way of luxuries 50 cigarettes and two ounces of tobacco. This quantity of cigarettes and tobacco is served out weekly.

There is besides a ration of super-excellent bacon, cheese, butter, where possible, and a bottle of army rum. The rum ration is two ounces daily, a rather large wine glassful. Apart from the daily issue of rations, every man carries his "iron" or emergency ration, of beef and biscuit, which he must not touch till he has been 24 hours without food.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 8 July 2016

Food for an Army (Germany, 1914)
Topic: Army Rations

Food for an Army (Germany, 1914)

German Soldiers Carry "Iron" Ration in Haversack

Hard Black Bread, Meat or Bacon, Onions and Coffee Their Fare Aside From What They Can Forage

The Victoria Daily Advocate, Victoria, Texas, 17 September 1914

The German soldier is eating black bread baked two months ago. It crust is so hard that a bayonet or sabre must be used to break it.

Washington.—Every German soldier carried 27 ounces of hard bread, 21 pounces of preserved meat or bacon, ten and one-half ounces of vegetables, mostly onions, and two and five-eighths ounces of coffee in his haversack when he started for Belgium. Every uhlan or other cavalryman carried just one-third of that amount.

The foot soldiers had enough food for three days and the cavalryman for just one day. The cavalryman is supposed to be able to get back to a base of supplies oftener and easier than a foot soldier. Besides, his work being usually in advance of the foot soldiers the food supplies of the country are not depleted when he appears, and he is expected to help himself.

An army officer on duty with the general staff in Washington says:

"The German soldiers are living on soup and hard bread. If the supply of meat and onions is good the soup is thick. If it is small the soup is thin. The fewer utensils an army carries the better it is fed. Big cauldrons packed with meat and vegetables mean more sustenance than pots and pans and bake ovens. The motive power that would be required to carry frying pans, broiling irons, and baking dishes can be better used in hauling meat, potatoes and onions. Stew every day is better than planked steak and mashed potatoes very other day.

Since 1809 the Prussians have been working on the machine with which the Kaiser is confronting the alliance of great and little powers today. The call the ration weighing four pounds their "iron" ration. It must last three days. Six hundred carloads of food must leave Coblentz, Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, or whatever for the time being is the commissary depot, daily for the men operating in Belgium, Luxembourg and France, that is the minimum. The chances are that 900 cars are being used for the conveyance of one day's "iron" ration. For ammunition there must be a minimum of 300 cars. For forage and other quartermaster stores there must be a minimum of at least 1,000 cars, although the probabilities are that a much larger number are being used.

If the army is being kept supplied by less than The German soldier is eating black bread baked two months ago. It crust is so hard that a bayonet or sabre must be used to break it.3,500 carloads of material every day the statisticians and others who have worked on the machine and its handling have achieved a great victory. Probably 200 locomotives are in use.

All these things are being used to start the supplies from the great depots at the base or bases to the temporary distributing depots.

The German soldier is eating black bread baked two months ago. It crust is so hard that a bayonet or sabre must be used to break it. Hard baking preserves it and reduces the moisture to be carried to a minimum. As to how the soldiers shall eat it that is his affair.

These estimates as to the number of wagons and animals are based on a campaign ten-day march from the base, or, roughly speaking, from one hundred to on hundred fifty miles from the point to which the railroads bring the food, ammunition, forage and other material.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 30 June 2016

US Army Rations (1911)
Topic: Army Rations

US Army Rations (1911)

The emergency ration is composed of compressed food having among its ingredients beef, sugar, salt, beans, potatoes and wheat.

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 27 March 1911

The different classifications of rations given out to the regular army is another interesting point. In all there are some six specific rations, the principal ones being the haversack ration, the garrison rations, the travel ration and the emergency or iron ration. Until a few months ago there was a seventh, known as the field ration; but now the haversack and field have been combined. The haversack ration, such as dealt out to troops in the field, consists of meat, coffee, hard-tack, sugar, pepper and salt. The amount given out varies with conditions, and at times, when more of the so-called haversack article is doubtful, the emergency ration is supplied in addition.

The emergency ration is composed of compressed food having among its ingredients beef, sugar, salt, beans, potatoes and wheat. It preparation for eating is simple, but it is never used except in cases of extreme necessity. The soldiers are supposed to keep it in the sealed tins until express orders are given for its devouring. A small cake sufficient for a meal is broken into the regulation cup filled with boiling water, and in a short time there is a palatable mess ready. When the novice tried his first meal of the iron ration he thinks it is a pretty small matter, but shortly he has the opinion that after all it was a square meal. The other ration which is of interest just now, called the travel ration, is served out for troops travelling otherwise than marching and without cooking facilities. If kitchen cars may be attached to trains, or if kitchens may be had on transports, then conditions are different. The travel ration is liable to be more plentiful and in greater variety than the haversack article and as a rule sufficient for one day longer than the trip is scheduled to take. The idea, is that at the end of the journey the men will still have enough to keep them for an additional day and thus do away with an immediate and of many times difficult doling out of more food.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Soldier's Rations
Topic: Army Rations

Soldier's Rations

The composition of the Russian emergency ration is a State secret.

The Sydney Mail, 23 December 1914


The British emergency ration, that is to say, a ration that each man carries in his knapsack and is supposed only to be eaten if he becomes detached from his comrades and is in danger of starvation, consisted of a compressed peas soup. It came into use first in 1878, when an enterprising Englishman supplied the British army during the Afghan war. When Roberts made his famous march to Khandahar his troops were fed almost exclusively upon this pea soup ration, which was so thoroughly concentrated that a single mule could carry a day's food for an entire battalion. It is generally conceded that peas are the best of all food, when the choice is limited to one variety. They are more nutritious than even lean meat, and are a "balanced" ration, that is to say, contain both fuel-producing elements and the protein that makes bone and muscle.

The British Army also uses a sort of dog biscuit, four inches square and weighing three ounces, and made of compressed whole wheat. Some time ago an effort was made to introduce the German emergency ration in the British Army, but the soldiers would not eat it. National tastes must be considered as well as the nutritive value of the food, and the British soldier certainly could not live and fight on rice as does the Japanese, nor on the "erbswurst," or pea sausage, that the German does his fighting on. The German ration is held to be largely responsible for the great marching of the armies in the war against France in 1870. It not only suits the German palate, but can be reduced to an extremely small bulk, and is so carefully prepared that it does not show any sign of deterioration years after its manufacture. The German Army also depends a good deal upon evaporised carrots, which are granulated to the size of small shot. This is not an emergency or so-called "iron" ration, but is used daily by the army cooks when fresh vegetables are not to be had.

The composition of the Russian emergency ration is a State secret, but it is said to taste like fresh bread after a piece of it has been placed in hot water. The French have a concentrated mixture of vegetables and meat, which is put up in 6 oz. boxes, each containing 21 tablets wrapped separately in paper. One of these, when dropped in hot water, yields a plate of delicious soup. The Belgian Army eats evaporated corn, and American army rations consist of lean dried meat, toasted cracked wheat, and chocolate. Bernard Shaw's comedy of "Arms and the Man," in which the soldier hero ate chocolates was not far from the truth, as all armies recognise the great value of chocolate.

Experts have long recognized the fact that soldiers who are in good spirits will fight better and march further and faster than soldiers who are conscious of deprivations. For that reason tobacco is a regular ration in all armies. An American lady in London who contributed £5000 to a British patriotic fund requested that the money be used to purchase smoking or chewing tobacco for the soldiers. The value of tobacco and some other stimulants or sedatives that have no sharp reaction is attested by the United States War Bureau, which reported not long ago that "under the influence of tea, coffee, or tobacco a man seems to be brought to a much higher pitch of efficiency than without them … A wise military leader will see to it that his men are not deprived of tobacco, or he will regret his carelessness."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
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
Friday, 3 June 2016

Ideal Army Ration (1899)
Topic: Army Rations

Ideal Army Ration (1899)

What a Soldier Gets and What He Should Get

The Montreal Gazette, 29 July 1899
(Dr. Louis L. Seaman, in Leslie's Weekly)

The ration of the army today consists of the following constituents:—

  • Fresh beef, or mutton when the cost does not exceed that of beef, twenty ounces;
    • or pork or bacon, twelve ounces;
    • or salt beef, twenty-two ounces;
    • or, when meat cannot be furnished, dried fish, fourteen ounces;
      • or pickled fish or fresh fish, eighteen ounces;
      • or cornmeal, twenty ounces.
    • Baking powder for troops in the field, when necessary to enable them to bake their own bread, sixteen twenty-fifths ounces.
    • Beans or peas, two and two-fifths ounces;
      • or rice or hominy, one and three-fifths ounces.
    • Potatoes, sixteen ounces;
      • or potatoes, twelve and four-fifths ounces, and onions, three and one-fifth ounces;
      • or potatoes, eleven and one-fifth ounces, and canned tomatoes, four and four-fifths ounces,
      • or four and four-fifths ounces of other fresh vegetables, not canned, when they can be obtained in the vicinity of the post or transported in a wholesome condition from a distance.
    • Coffee, green, one and three-fifths ounces,
      • or roasted coffee, one and seven twenty-fifths ounces;
      • or tea, green or black, eight twenty-fifths ounce.
    • Sugar, two and two fifth's ounces;
      • or molasses or cane syrup, sixteen twenty-fifths gill.
    • Vinegar, eight twenty-fifths gill;
    • salt sixteen twenty-fifths ounce;
    • pepper, black, one twenty-fifth ounce.
  • A proper diet for the tropics, obviously, should be of a vegetable character. This would supply the elements of energy, without unduly heating the body. This is just what the ideal ration should accomplish. It should accommodate itself to the needs of the individual everywhere. In the north it should supply him with the abundance of heat-producing elements demanded by the colder climate, while in the south it should limit that supply and provide him with the diet suited to his new environment. It should, further, in southern or tropical campaigns, when barrack or camp life is abandoned for active work in the field, readily adapt itself to the increased demand of the system for nitrogenous elements; for field work with its greater activity, requires greater energy producing food than does the quieter life in the barracks. This was illustrated in several regiments that visited Puerto Rico, notably in one of the artillery regiments, which landed about the same time as did my own, the First United States Volunteer Engineers. This particular regiment saw the hardest kind of work from the very moment of its arrival, until, upon the signing of the protocol, it was sent North. During its stay on the island—about six weeks—the troops subsisted almost entirely upon the "travel ration" (much worse than the field ration when viewed from the standpoint of the ideal), but they had comparatively little sickness, the effect of the excess of the nitrogenous element having been neutralized by the tremendously active life the men had been compelled to lead.

    In order to reach the ideal, then, the present ration should be radically changed. The beef and salt pork component should be cut in two, and farinaceous food and fish substituted. There would be plenty of meat left even then, for the old theory that meat alone makes brawn and muscle has long since been exploded. Beef has been beaten time and again on the athletic field; and on the plains of Marathon, in the great international games recently held in the presence of the king and assembled thousands, the victorious champion in the twenty-five mile foot race was he who had not tasted a single ounce of meat in his long course of training. Salted rations should also be issued but once, or most, twice during the week, and fresh supplies should be provided from beef on the hoof at the point where issued. Of the cereals, one of the best is hominy, which is not only nutritious and easily digested, but it relished by the men as well. Equally valuable is the rice component, and its present issue should be quadrupled in quantity. The black or red bean (frijol), of the tropics should be substituted, in southern latitudes, for the white bean of this country and dried fruits, especially apples and prunes should be added to the ration.

    The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 28 May 2016

Iron Rations for Troops (US Army, 1895)
Topic: Army Rations

Iron Rations for Troops (US Army, 1895)

Emergency Diet for United States Soldiers
Independent of Supply Trains
Carrying His Own "Grub"—Foods Condensed by Evaporation—But tons of Coffee and Tea—Concentrated Loaves of Bread, and Soups in Cigarette Packs—The Kola Nut for Military Purposes

Hartford Weekly Times, 24 October 1895

Within a few weeks from now United States soldiers will be provided for the first time with an "iron ration." The boards appointed to consider the question of emergency foods, representing the various departments of the army, are sending in their reports, upon which final conclusions will be based. Problem: To make up a food package of small bulk, which shall render the fighting man independent of supply trains for a short period, in case of an exigency such as might arise from his being wounded or cut off with a detachment from the main command.

"Experiments in this line are being made by all the great powers," said Major Woodruff at the War Department yesterday. "They are trying everything imaginable for the purpose. Here, for example, is an element of the British emergency ration. It looks like a dog biscuit, doesn't it? Three ounces it weighs, and it is four inches square. It is composed simply of whole wheat solidly compressed. A condensed loaf of bread you may call it. The French have a new ‘war bread,' which is to replace hard tack for the use of their army. Its ingredients and the processes for making it are a secret. When a piece of it is put into hot water or soup, it swells up like a sponge, and it is said to be virtually the same as fresh bread.

"In future wars the utmost efforts will be made to furnish the troops with fresh articles of dier in the field. Dried foods are only suitable for emergency foods. Germany and France, by the help of cold storage, have perfected arrangements for shipping fresh beef to the front by rail. When practicable, fresh bread will be forwarded daily to the fighting line. This was done from Washington to the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. The French government has constructed a number of bakeries on wheels for use in campaigns—wagons, that is to say, containing ovens and all necessary appliances, so that bread may be made on the march.

"For emergency rations, evaporated vegetables have been tried, but not with great success. They are not nutritious enough, and they do not keep well. Here is a one-pound can of evaporated onions. Smells strong, doesn't it? It ought to, inasmuch as it represents ten pounds of fresh onions. In the same way potatoes, carrots, turnips and cabbages are put up. Desiccated foods are now being produced on an enormous scale by many firms in this country and abroad. A good thing which we may adopt if this desiccated beef. One ounce of it is equal to five ounces of ordinary meat, because it is absolutely water-free. It is too hard to cut with a knife without trouble, and so the soldier chops off a small hunk of it. He puts the piece into a little machine like a coffee mill and grinds it up. It comes out in fine shavings, ready to be eaten on bread or to be used for soup stock.

"Beef-tea, used as a stimulant, is a good thing for soldiers. For an emergency ration, it is put up in capsules, one of which makes a cup. Each capsule contains the necessary seasoning and costs two cents. Beef-tea contains almost no nutriment, but only the flavoring and stimulating qualities of the meat. When a person is informed that a teaspoonful of extract represents several pounds of beef, he infers that it is equally nourishing. The truth is that the nourishment is left behind in the boiler. A human being will starve to death on an unlimited supply of beef-tea. The most important element of the British iron ration is pemmican—a preparation of beef, fat and salt. Its manufacture is a secret. It is put up in tin cans of four ounces, equal to one pound of meat, and is eaten without further cooking. However, it may be made into a hash or soup by boiling it with vegetables. It keep sound for years, though exposed to air. With the pemmican goes a can of the same size, containing a mixture of cocoa and honey.

"It is certain that canned foods will play an important part in future wars. The Belgian iron ration is a ten-ounce cut of corned beef put up in a liquor that is flavored with vegetables. The German emergency ration is a one-pound can of preserved meat, with hard bread and pea sausage. A biscuit composed of meat and flour has been tried for the German army, but the soldiers would not eat it. The biscuit was supposed to furnish the fighting man with everything that was necessary for his physical support, water excepted. To be satisfactory, a ration must be palatable as well as wholesome and nutritious. A dietary for troops cannot be settled on a basis of theory alone; it must be tested in practice. What will satisfy soldiers of one nation may not suit those of another.

"Very likely, United States soldiers would not put up with the German ‘erbswurst.' Yet that species of pea sausage is said to have been a leading cause of the success of the German arms in the Franco-Prussian war. Without it the troops could not have endured the fatigues to which they were subjected. The sausage is made pf pea-meal, fat and bacon. It was devised by a German cook, from whom the invention was purchased by the government for $25,000. The secret lies in the method of preparation by which the article is rendered proof against decay. It was first used on a large scale by the second army under Prince Frederick Charles. A factory established at Berlin put up enormous quantities of these sausages and other preserved meats, furnishing to the troops 40,000,000 rations. Each sausage is eight inches long, and makes twelve plates of nutritious soup. There could hardly be a better emergency ration.

"Among other things under consideration by our own War Department are condensed soups. This little packet, which looks somewhat like a bundle of cigarettes, contains just three ounces of desiccated pea soup. You observe, it is so compressed as to be quite hard. I break it up and throw it into this saucepan. To it I add one quart of water, and I place it on the gas stove here to boil. For flavoring, though it is not necessary, let us add a small quantity of these evaporated onions. In the course of fifteen minutes I will offer you a plate of every excellent pea soup. Soups, you understand, are most useful in rations. For health it is not sufficient to put a certain amount of nutriment into the body; the stomach must be distended. Soup does that. Incidentally, the soldier who consumes one of these rations absorbs one quart of sterilized water.

"Condensed soups may be purchased in tablets three inches square and half an inch thick. Each tablet weighs four ounces, and makes six plates of soup. In food value one tablet is equal to one and three-quarters pounds of potatoes. Bean, mock-turtle, green-corn, barley and potato soups are desiccated in this form. Tomato, vegetable, and fish chowder soups are similarly prepared. What do you suppose this is? It looks like a button, doesn't it? It is a cup of tea condensed. All you have to do is drip it into a cup of hot water and stir it up. The sweetening is in the bottom with the tea. No, the sweetening is not sugar, but a coal-tar product called ‘saccharine,' which is more than 200 times as sweet as sugar. Thus the quantity added needs to be very small. Coffee is put up in the same way, with saccharine, as well as in a shape that looks like black molasses.

"An iron ration is a short-weight and highly concentrated diet intended to cover only a brief period. It is not to be used except when the regular food supply cannot be obtained. Supposing the army supplies to be regularly furnished, the fighting man ought to return from the campaign carrying in his haversack the same emergency ration with which he started our originally. But it may happen that his regiment or brigade is cut off from the main body, and in that case the emergency rations may be literal salvation. Or he may be left wounded on a field of battle, unable to obtain anything to eat for days, unless he has it with him. During the recent war with China the Japanese found emergency rations a necessity of active service. An army, or a large part of it, may be thrown rapidly forward to hold a position and it takes a week or or more to make roads so as to get supplies to the front. This very thing occurred at Vicksburg, where for lack of emergency rations, Grant's men suffered severely from hunger.

"No army in the world is so well supplied with food as ours. During the Civil War the management of the Union commissariat was a model, On one occasion president Lincoln said to the commissary general of the army: ‘I rarely hear of your department. It works like a well-regulated stomach, so that one scarcely knows one has it.' It is high time then, that our troops should be provided with emergency rations. One of the questions to be decided is whether the ration shall be carried at the belt or in the haversack. Three days' allowance, weighing two and a half pounds, may be packed conveniently in a sealed tin and attached to the belt. The tin is readily opened with the finger and serves as a cooking utensil. A typical iron ration for one day would consist of five ounces of oatmeal, a tablet of coffee, a quarter ounce of salt, and a five-ounce soup tablet composed of dried beef, pea meal, potatoes and suet.

"Soldiers suffering from hunger may be supplied with small quantities of alum, a pinch of which taken from time to time contracts the stomach. Thus the organ, not requiring so much to fill it, can get along with less than the normal diet for a while without complaining. A trouble about condensed foods is that soldiers are apt to eat too much of them, not realizing their concentration. I have known men to devour a quantity of compressed wheat-cake and then drink a lot of water, the result being very distressing. Foods may be arranged for a field ration so that the fighting man will have the exact amounts of all the elements required for the support of life, and yet certain things will be missing whose absence brings disease and death. A percentage of indigestible matter is necessary for the digestive organs to work upon. If the concentrated food be a powder or a liquid, no solids being furnished, a law is violated. There is no chewing, and without mastication saliva, which is one of the most important digestive fluids, is not secreted and poured into the stomach. A human being ordinarily will secrete from a quart to three pints of saliva, mostly at meal-times, in twenty-four hours. The soldier fed on liquids only will suffer from diarrhea and colic.

"Stimulants are necessary to soldiers. They keep up their cheerfulness and enable them to endure fatigue and privations. Depressed troops do not fight well. Accordingly, tea and coffee are included in emergency rations. It seems not unlikely that the kola nut may be used for military purposes, on account of its wonderful power as a stimulant, reviving the exhausted, mitigating hunger and thirst, and enabling men to do much more work. It acts in an exaggerated manner like tea of coffee, without producing any subsequent reaction or bad effects. South American Indians use the cocoa leaf for this purpose on long marches without food across the pampas; but the cocoa is dangerous. The kola is equally efficient and is harmless. Already experiments have been made in the French army with so-called accelerating rations, composed of kola nuts, flour and sugar in cakes. But they proved a failure because they were made from worthless dried nuts

"The kola nut, to be worth anything, must be fresh. Before long, doubtless, it will be a common commercial article. It is successfully cultivated in the West Indies and along the adjacent shores of South and Central America, where it is consumed in immense quantities, almost replacing teas, coffee and alcohol. It is the fruit of a large tree, and is about as big as a horse-chestnut, growing in pods of three to eleven nuts in a pod. Undoubtedly the tree would grow in southern California, and very likely it might be cultivated in the Gulf states. Chewing the nut stimulates the brain and acts as a tonic on the muscles. Its peculiar action is due to a specific alkaloid called ‘kolanin,' which has not yet been isolated in a pure state. In military life the use of the kola would be limited to rare occasions, as in forced marches or just before a battle. If two equal armies face each other, and one, by help of the kola, can do one-tenth more than the other, it will be successful, other things being equal. For, if there are 250,000 men engaged on each side, the effect will be the same as a reinforcement of 25,000 men."

Rene Bache

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Meals as Important as Tactics
Topic: Army Rations

Problem of Meals for Army Important as That of Tactics

Each Soldier Carries His Iron Ration, To Be Used in Emergency

The state must ensure the entire supply for the whole army day by day.

The Milwaukee Journal, 1 November 1914
By the Journal Military Expert

The problems of the commissariat of an army are as important as those of masterly tactics in the field. Napoleon said, "An army travels on its stomach."

The provisions of an army are cared for by one or more administrative departments. Its duty is to procure, take care of and distribute all supplies necessary to keep the troops in health and strength. A certain plan co-operating with the war plan of the general staff must be laid out and the following are the cardinal points to be considered.

1.     The resources of the scene of wat and the facility to make use of them.

2.     The time of the year and the climate.

3.     the nature of the war, if offensive or defensive.

4.     The length of the communication lines.

5.     The rapidity of the tactical movement of the troops.

6.     The nearness of the enemy.

7.     The attitude and character of the inhabitants.

State Must Assure Supplies

The state must ensure the entire supply for the whole army day by day. The supplies must come continuously for the full number of men and animals, without regard as to whether one or the other army corps be in need of fresh supplies or not. In this war this problem may become more difficult each day, as provisions, which usually are not contraband, may become contraband of war when destined for the military or naval forces.

The right of armies to take from the enemy's country is indisputable. Military necessity permits the enforcement in an enemy's country of all measures to assist in conducting the war.

The work of the administrative department into three spheres of action:

1.     The service performed in the rear of the army, established in the national territory of in the occupied country.

2.     The service of the line of communication. Replacement of stores consumed by the army and the transportation, maintenance, quartering of troops, prisoners and wounded and the protection of these lines.

3.     The supply of the troops in the field during active operations.

Work in Conjunction

Although entirely separated these three work in conjunction. All lines of communication are under supervision of a general officer. He is assisted by a large staff and a competent force of arms to preserve order along the line of communication, guard the depots of supply and protect the line from attacks by the enemy. Such officer is subordinate to the commander of the troops in the field.

The German soldier is well fed. Every morning he gets a hot breakfast; at noon he gets hot lunch and in the evening a hot supper. These rations are placed in small tin cans, where they remain good for years. These cans are labelled and the contents are good for twenty years. One can contains enough soup for one meal for two men.

For emergency soldiers have the "iron ration." This consists of one box of canned meat, three boxes of coffee, a package of canned vegetables, a package of biscuits and a salt and pepper box.

Also Emergency Rations

The "iron ration" of the British soldier consists of one pound of preserved meat, twelve ounces of biscuit, five-eighths of an ounce of tea, two ounces of sugar, one-half ounce of salt, three ounces of cheese and one ounce of meat extract. Besides this "iron ration," the British soldier also has an "emergency ration." This consists of chocolate with added plasmon or other equally suitable milk proteid.

The food is wrapped in vegetable parchment paper and packed in tins each containing six and one-half ounces. The ration is not to be opened except by order of an officer or in extremity. It is calculated to maintain strength for thirty-six hours, if used in small quantities.

The armies of Germany, Austria, Great Britain, France and Russia have field bakeries and field kitchens, A field bakery has six to twelve ovens with all necessary equipment. The six ovens of a German field bakery can produce 16,000 loaves a day.

The portable field kitchen is adopted by the French, Russian, British, German and Austrian armies. The British field kitchen is a two-horse vehicle. It cooks for 250 men, allowing ten quarts of hot food for every twelve men. The rear part of the wagon contains a fire and four cooking pots in addition to a hot water boiler. Groceries also are carried. In this war, where men have to endure enormous hardships, and where they prefer to sleep rather than wait for food which had to be prepared at the end of a long march, the use of the field kitchen proved very advantageous.

The horses carry their "iron ration," from twelve to fifteen pounds of corn. The other forage is carried in the supply columns.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 21 May 2016

Feeding an Army (1914)
Topic: Army Rations

A very simple but exceptionally practical part of these rations is the erbswurst, or pea bologna, …

Feeding an Army (1914)

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 28 November 1914

Among the unnamed heroes in the European war whose deeds receive little or no attention are the men who take care of the hungry soldiers and horses during and after battle. In an up to date army these men form a little army by themselves, and from the very commencement of war a great strain falls upon their shoulders.

The responsibilities of the department for food supply are simply stupendous, and to fulfill successfully its task the provision department must be equipped and organized to perfection.

The feeding of a modern army is a problem of the utmost significance, as upon the efficiency of regular and quick supply of nourishing food depends its success to a very large extent.

A German army of 1,000,000 men consumes daily not less than 500 tons of food, while the feeding of the horses require daily quantities of over twice that weight.

The German military supply department is divided into two divisions, the first of which is responsible for the quick and timely distribution of food, forage and clothing, while the second division is the medical department, and attends to medical supplies only.

The main difficulties which confront the food supply department in war are the obstacles which may block the way of the supply columns. Aside from bad roads, wagons will break down, horses will be lost, and if these things are avoided the roads will be blocked by ambulances, marching troops, etc.

Also, as soon as the army begins to operate out of its own territory, there are the possibilities of the destruction of food magazines and the owners of obtainable food will often hide or destroy available victuals rather than let the enemy have them.

The war equipment of each German soldier includes the so-called "iron rations," consisting of the erbswurst, preserved meat and vegetables, biscuits, coffee and salt sufficient to furnish satisfactory meals for three days.

A very simple but exceptionally practical part of these rations is the erbswurst, or pea bologna, which is made out of mashed peas, to which minced bacon, salt and spices are added, and which, through extraction of the moisture, is preserved in containers of parchment about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide.

The simple addition of hot water to this preparation creates a wholesome, nourishing and decidedly tasty meal. In case of dire necessity the preparation can also be used cold.

But the "iron ration" of the soldier is not to be used under any circumstances unless he is cut off entirely from food supply of any kind.

Each army corps, 40,000 men, is accompanied twelve or thirteen supply columns, or one wagon to about 500 men, carrying a full ration for two days for each men.

The organization provides for food magazines on a large scale, which sends to the different army corps at regular intervals supply columns with rations per man for four days, and which is supplemented in proportion.

Thus we see that the German soldier in the field is practically continuously in reach of provisions for nine full days, and the possibility of starving soldiers, provided sufficient time is found for meals, is very remote.

What is done for the man is also done for the beast, with the exception that the cavalryman carries only one day's provisions and one day's supply of oats, in order not to hinder quick and efficient movement, and in consideration of the fact that the riding troops can be more easily brought back to the supply columns, says the Boston Globe.

The main load of these columns consist invariably of flour, to provide the fighting men daily with fresh bread. For this purpose each army corps is followed by two field bakery columns, which represent the result of many years of study and practical tests.

Whether stationary or en route these field bakeries are turning out daily from 25,000 to 40,000 portions of fresh rye bread, each portion weighing six pounds. It is far easier to move flour than baked bread, and this system eliminates also the chance of stale or moldy bread.

An innovation in the provisioning of the German army is the water columns, which are devised to prevent the use of unclean or even poisoned water as far as possible.

Previous war have taught terrible lessons to what extent the use of unclean water can decimate the strength of an army by typhoid and cholera, which, under war conditions, inevitably become epidemic.

Scientific research has revealed the disinfecting influence of free oxygen, and the military authorities were not slow in using this knowledge. The working of these water wagons is a rather complicated process, but it may suffice to say that water of any kind and from any place has been proven pure after having been pumped through the apparatus and charged with oxygen.

An equipment of this kind is of enormous value and will keep men and animals of a far greater basis of efficiency than has been possible heretofore.

While part of the supply columns are marching with the corps, another part follows at a distance of about ten miles, and a third groups keeps a day's march to the rear. These precautions are taken with a possible defeat in view and also to eliminate the capture of too great a part of the supply division.

Field bakeries as a rule follow at a distance which permits the ’army corps the use of the bread within twenty-four hours after it leaves the ovens.

To provide for three meals, the German soldier received daily: 1 pound 10 ounces bread, 1 pound 1 ½ ounce meat (fresh when possible), 1 pound 8 ounces bacon, 3/4 ounce coffee, salt.

Vegetables are provided as procurable. Wherever possible, 1 ½ ounces of tobacco is added daily. While in communication with the food magazine fresh meat is supplied when possible, and in foraging in the enemy's land the hunt for fresh meat is conducted very thoroughly.

But is conditions do not permit a sufficient supply of the fresh, the preserved meats are of such an excellent quality and so carefully prepared that they must be considered nourishing meals.

The German government has seen to it that grafting and substituting of inferior products in the supply department is an impossibility, for the value of the man in the field is keenly appreciated, and consequently most explicit care it taken to sustain the fighter and his spirit by caring for his inner machinery.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Feeding Uncle Sam's Big Army
Topic: Army Rations

Feeding Uncle Sam's Big Army

Hot Meals at All Hours

Illustrated Sunday Magazine, The Gazette Times, Pittsburgh, 23 June 1907
By: Brig.-Genl. Henry G. Sharpe, Commissary General, U.S.A.

The Commissary Department of the Army of the United States has been brought to perfection and the American soldier is better fed than the man who bears arms under any other flag on earth.

Veterans of the Civil War will recall the doggerel in which the fare of the boys who wore blue was designated. It was:

Beans for breakfast;
Beans for dinner;
Beans for supper;
Beans, Beans, Beans!


The men who followed the stars and bars were not so fortunate as to have a regular diet of even beans. The frequently subsisted for weeks at a time on a few pounds of parched corn, and they fought well under that diet, too. But for years now the best thought of the commissaries of the army has been devoted to the improvement of the food conditions and Brigadier-General Henry G. Sharpe, Commissary-General of the Army, has prepared the following article for the Illustrated Sunday magazine on the food of the Army, in which he gives some interesting data concerning the method of feeding Uncle Sam's defenders,

elipsis graphic

While in garrison the enlisted man in the United States Army is entitled to draw each day twenty ounces of fresh beef or mutton, or twelve ounces of bacon. Should it be found impracticable to obtain fresh meat he has in lieu thereof sixteen ounces of canned meat, or canned fish, fourteen ounces of dried fish, or sixteen ounces of pickled fish. He may, on occasion, draw from the commissary and can of beef and vegetable stew containing twenty-eight and one-half ounces. He is entitled each day to eighteen ounces of flour or its equivalent in bread, or in lieu thereof twenty ounces of corn meal.

Of vegetable components he has his choice of beans, peas, rice and hominy and a pound of potatoes, onions or canned tomatoes. In addition thereto he is supplied each day with about an ounce and a half of prunes, evaporated apples or peaches. An ounce and a third of roasted coffee or a third of an ounce of tea is given to each man we well as a little more than three ounces of sugar, and a sufficient quantity of vinegar, pepper and salt.

This is the ordinary garrison ration. When located at army posts convenient to city markets the mess may exchange any portion of its rations for fresh vegetables, fruits or other delicacies which strike the fancy.

The field ration differs in its essential particulars only slightly from that issued in garrison. Jam takes the place of dried fruits and with each portion of flour is supplied baking powder or yeast.

It has been the aim of the Department for some time past to improve the method of feeding the troops in the field. With this end in view a school of cookery has been established at Fort Riley, Kansas, with branches at the Presidio in California and at the Washington Barracks, District of Columbia. The men at these schools are instructed in the art of baking bread of various kinds and in general plain cookery, the idea being to establish a corps of army cooks who can take the ordinary rations and prepare them in such a manner as to tempt the appetite of the enlisted men. The result of this training is that the army cooks today are able to prepare meals out of the supplies furnished to each mess which would do credit to an ordinary hotel. The receipts used in these cooking schools embrace a dozen different soups, five or six methods of preparing fish and oysters, ten or twelve sauces and gravies, besides fifty or more ways of serving the various meals and vegetables which are furnished as regular rations, to say nothing of the numerous methods of making different kinds of breads, cakes, muffins, puddings and pies. In short the men of the army today, when in garrison, are better served than the men in civil life in like conditions.

The army cooking schools will result in the ultimate establishment of a corps of cooks and bakers capable of preparing appetizing meals at all times for the troops of the Unites States and will assure to them better and more varied food than the soldiers of any other country can hope to have. Still we are up to the present time behind the European armies in the matter of movable ovens. At the outbreak of the Spanish War such contrivances were practically unknown to the Army. Out soldiers were compelled to depend largely upon hard tack for their bread, although the German and French armies had adopted the movable oven long before that time. And even now we have few of these very necessary adjuncts to the Commissary Department although it is likely that under new regulations, recently adopted, these will soon be supplied.

One of the longest steps forward in the way of providing for the men of the army on the march is now being perfected by this department. That is the construction of what is generally known as "the fireless cooker," a modification of the Norwegian hay-oven. For two or three years past we have been experimenting with a view to the adoption of the best possible method for supplying hot meals to the troops in the field in the quickest possible time. The fireless cooker, or hay-oven, is no new thing. It has been used in Europe for a great many years. The main idea is to partially cook a meal and then to place the food in a receptacle that will retain the heat, with as little loss as possible, and to permit the retained heat to finish the coking operations. Everybody knows that water boils at two hundred and twelve degree Fahrenheit, but very few people realize that water never gets any hotter than that and few even seem to know that it is unnecessary to bring food up to even the degree of temperature required to boil water provided the heat can be retained, to insure perfect cooking.

Experiments have shown that partially cooked food can be thoroughly cooked if kept at a temperature anywhere above 170 for a certain period of time and that is what is being done with the fireless cooker, which we hope to be able to perfect so as to make it available for the army.

There are in the market today a great many such appliances, ranging from wooden boxes, packed with asbestos of mineral wool, up to elaborate metallic contrivances, several inches thick in the rim packed with some sort of non-conductor of heat, such as wood fibre or asbestos. What the army wants is a contrivance of this character in which partially cooked foods may be placed which will retain heat for many hours and to this end our experiments are being made with a fair degree of success thus far. Not long ago a squad of men started on a march from Fort Riley, Kansas, followed by a wagon containing a partially cooked meal; sufficient for the entire squad. After a march of six hours the fireless cooker in which this meal was contained was opened and it was found that the meat, vegetables, and macaroni, contained therein was perfectly prepared and ready for dinner.

The theory is a simple on. It is that heat retained by a non-conductor and prevented from escaping will complete the operation of cooking food. The hay-box of Norway has been used for a generation or more and we want to adopt the idea into the army of the United States; when this is done a squad of troops started out on a day's march can be followed by supply wagons with fireless cookers, they have been packed when camp is broken in the morning, and will have a nutritious hot meal ready to serve to them immediately when camp is made again at night.

Heretofore it has been found necessary in order to give our soldiers hot food on a march to carry a supply of fuel from camp to camp. And even then a great deal of time is consumed in building the fires and in cooking the meals. It will be readily understood that any method which promises the elimination of the necessity of hauling large quantities of fuel and at the same time eliminate the loss of time will be of enormous advantage and that the result will be highly appreciated by the men to be fed.

Manufacturers have in many instances prepared devices which are entirely satisfactory in a small way and which appear to be excellent for domestic purposes but up to the present time none of them has designed a "fireless cooker" satisfactory for the needs of such a number of men as the Subsistence Department must provide for. We are looking for lightness in weight, combined with an absolute stability in construction. We want a cooker that will stand long travel over all sorts of roads and assure the perfection of the contents at the end of the journey. Each receptacle containing foods must be absolutely air tight, easily cleansed and readily adjusted. We have secured, through our own officers, several devices which seem to fill the bill and I am confident that before long it will be possible to start out a regiment of soldiers from camp in the morning with a wagon containing fireless cookers supplied with a full ration of partially cooked food which will be fit to serve in the form of a palatable well cooked meal by the time camp is reached at the end of the day.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 18 April 2016

Cooking in the Field (1855)
Topic: Army Rations

Cooking in the Field (1855)

"Certain men of each Company should be appointed to cut, and bring wood, others to fetch water, and others to get meat, &c."

Hints on Bivouac and Camp Life; For the Guidance of Young Officers in the Halifax Garrison While Under Canvas for the Summer Months at the North West Arm, Point Pleasant, by Captain Wilford Brett, 76th Regiment, 1855

The following order was issued by the Duke of Wellington, dated Grenada, 28th November, 1812.

"In regard to the good of the Soldier I have often observed and lamented in the late campaign the facility and celerity with which the French Soldiers cooked in comparison with those of our army. The cause of this disadvantage is the same with that of every other description. The want of attention of the Officers to the order of the Army, and to the conduct of their men, and their consequent want of authority over their conduct.

"Certain men of each Company should be appointed to cut, and bring wood, others to fetch water, and others to get meat, &c., to be cooked; and it would be found, if this practice were daily enforced, and a particular hour for seeing their dinner, and for the men dicing, named, as it ought to be, equally as for parade, that cooking would no longer require the inconvenient length cf time which it has been lately found to take, and that the Soldiers would not be exposed to the privation of their food at the moment at which the Army may be engaged in operations with the enemy." [Duke of Wellington's Despatches, vol. vi., pages 181 and 182.]

With a view to carrying out the directions contained in the above order and to establish a system by which the Soldiers shall cook with celerity, Lord Frederick Fitzclarence laid down the following system:—

The Companies having been previously told off by three's, and the Non-Commissioned Officers told off for the following parties, the Regiment will be formed in open or half distance column and ordered to pile arms.

  • Front rank men of 1 file of three's. — Fire-men,
  • Front rank of No. 2 file of three's. — Water-men,
  • Front rank of No. 3 file of three's. — Wood-men,
  • Rear rank of No. 1 file of three's. — Beef-men
  • Rear rank of No. 2 file of three's. — Bread-men,
  • Rear rank of No. 3 file of three's. — Charge of Arms, Packs, &c.

Subaltern Officers will be warned who will take charge of the various parties named, and march them off.

The words of the Commanding Officers of the Battalions will be as follows:

  • "Pile Arms"
  • "Off Packs"
  • "Prepare to Cook"
  • "Out Non-commissioned Officers of Parties."

At this last word of command the Non-Commissioned Officers will place themselves in close column in front of the pivot files of each Company, Non-Commissioned Officers, of fire-men leading, then water-men, wood-men, beef-men, and bread-men.

  • "Out Fire-men" — At this word the fire-men will step to the front and form on the leading non-commissioned Officer.
  • "Out Water-man" — Ditto on the second non-commissioned Officer.
  • "Out Wood-men" — Ditto on third non-commissioned Officer.
  • "Out Beef men" — Ditto on fourth non-commissioned Officer.
  • "Out Bread-men" — Ditto on fifth non-commissioned Officer.
  • The water-men on being called to the front previous to falling in on their non-commissioned Officers, will collect the camp-kettles of the Company when such are provided if not, the whole of the canteens of the front or rear rank, as may be directed by the Officer commanding the Company, and one for every two non-commissioned Officers in case of a blank file, they will take one extra when the rear rank canteens are used. The wood-men will, in like manner, collect the canteen straps and hatchets.

    The beef-men will fall in, each with a bayonet, having been previously warned how many they are to draw rations for.

    The bread-men ditto, with haversacks, having been previously warned how many they are to draw rations for.

    The men told off for the arms, and supernumerary men of messes, to remain with the arms, the latter to be available for any fatigue.

    The uneven number of men, and non-commissioned Officers, are to be divided amongst the messes, so that the bread and meat men, may know how many rations to draw.

    All being ready, the Commanding Officer will face each party towards the place where the bread, meat, &c., may be found, and will direct them to close in on the march upon the companies nearest those points where each party will be taken charge of by the subaltern Officer appointed for that purpose who will be already there, having received directions from the Adjutant.

    IN QUICK TIME. Words of Command:—

    • "Pile Arms"
    • "Off Packs"
    • "Prepare to Cook"

    At this last word of command all the parties will fall in as above detailed on their non-commissioned Officers and be marched off at once by the Commanding Officer.

    The places for the kitchens will be marked off by the Quarter-Master of the Regiment, and the fire-men will be at once marched to him.

    The Senior Subaltern

    Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

    Newer | Latest | Older

    The Regimental Rogue.

    Follow The Regimental Rogue on facebook.

    « November 2016 »
    S M T W T F S
    1 2 3 4 5
    6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    13 14 15 16 17 18 19
    20 21 22 23 24 25 26
    27 28 29 30
    Entries by Topic
    All topics
    Army Rations  «
    Battle Honours
    British Army
    Canadian Armed Forces
    Canadian Army
    Canadian Militia
    Cold Steel
    Cold War
    DND - DHH
    Drill and Training
    European Armies
    Forays in Fiction
    Martial Music
    Military Medical
    Military Theory
    Pay; the Queen's shilling
    Sam Hughes
    Soldier Slang
    Soldiers' Load
    Staff Duties
    Stolen Valour
    Taking Advantage
    The Field of Battle
    The RCR
    The RCR Museum
    US Armed Forces
    Vimy Pilgrimage
    Wolseley Barracks

    You are not logged in. Log in
    Blog Tools
    Edit your Blog
    Build a Blog
    RSS Feed
    View Profile