Sunday, 8 January 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Feeding the Troops during WW1

Field Kitchen on the Somme

British Troops receive dinner rations from field kitchen
© IWM (Q 1582)

Daily Rations for the British soldier

20 ounces of bread
1/10 gill lime if vegetables not issued
16 ounces of flour instead of above
½ gill of rum
3 ounces of cheese
maximum of 20 ounces of tobacco
5/8 ounces of tea
1/3 chocolate – optional
4 ounces of jam               
4 ounces of oatmeal instead of bread
½ ounce of salt 
1 pint of porter instead of rum
1/36 ounce of pepper
4 ounces of dried fruit instead of jam
1/20 ounce of mustard
4 ounces of butter/margarine
8 ounces of fresh vegetables
Or 2 ounces of dried vegetables

As the war progressed it became increasingly difficult to supply fresh meat to the troops and even though by 1918 67 million pounds (30 million kg) of fresh meat was sent to the Western Front, the troops increasingly relied on tinned meat. Machonochie's stew was despised by the men as it was considered inedible when cold. It consisted mainly of turnips and carrots in a thin gravy and took at least 30 minutes to heat up which was often impossible to achieve in the trenches. There was also a particularly noxious side effect to eating the stew as it contained a large proportion of animal fat and thus gave the troops flatulence of a particularly offensive nature!

Maconochie's Beef and Vegetable Stew

 © IWM (EPH 4379)

Army biscuits were an integral part of the soldiers rations. Huntley and Palmers biscuits were produced under government contract. The biscuits were notoriously hard to eat and could crack teeth if not soaked first in water or tea. The biscuits were often crumbled and made into a paste called duff, which was then added to thicken their Machonochie stew.

Tea was very popular and considered to be a  'taste of home' however, it also was drunk to disguise the taste of the water which was carried to the front in petrol cans.

Huntley and Palmers Army No.4
© IWM (EPH 2012)

British Soldiers eating hot rations during the battle of the Somme at Ancre

© IWM (Q 1580)

You can discover more about The Food that Fuelled the Front on the Imperial War Museum website by clicking here 

My thanks to the IWM for their incredible online resources.


  1. It's a wonder they lived to fight!!

    1. That's very true. I don't fancy trying out the Maconochie's stew..:(


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffa, Timmy and I appreciate your interest.