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Pilchards appeared in 10 man compo rations to replace the tinned salmon. The salmon was rarely ever seen outside the cookhouse/QM stores. The pilchards on the other hand seemed to appear with alarming regularity. (No implication as to the honesty of the chefs/stores is intended here ;-)).
Fairly soon it was noticed by some Health and Safety wallah that the tins were starting to explode. To this end, the British Army buried pilchard minefields all over West Germany and strategic parts of England. This was a supreme strategic manoeuvre which probably did more to cause the collapse of the Warsaw Pact than any other single tactic. The whole topography of Western Germany was raised about 3 feet; the ground was rendered unsafe for human habitation and mine detectors sent their users deaf in an instant.
It can only be surmised what effect the pilchard minefield would have had on a Soviet Armoured Regiment. The corrosive qualities of the tomato sauce would in all probability, have been banned under the Geneva Convention as an inhumane weapon. The shrapnel effect of the bones does not bear thinking about!
Do Not Eat the Pilchards
A year or so after the Kuwaiti boost to personal war stories we got issued with 2 weeks worth of the 10-man packs "Menu X" featuring the very same tinned pilchards. Included in the top of the case was a note reading "Do not eat the tinned pilchards due to health risk...botulism...hot sun...storage on flyblown Saudi dockside etc etc. Please bury underground and use replacement main meal". So the story's true! Incidentally, where was our replacement meal?? You've guessed it..