British Long Range Patrol Ration 1967

Good morning everyone.

My name is Graham Wilson; I am a retired WO2 Australian Regular Army (9 years infantry, 17 years intelligence), a retired Department of Defence civilian officer (14 years) and now a full time military historian, researcher, writer and consultant.

I'm currently working on my 4th book for the Australian Army History Unit, dealing with the history of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the present day.

At the moment I'm working on the Vietnam section and have just come across a January 1967 reference to the delivery of '1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations for issue to 3 SAS'. These rations were delivered ex-Singapore.

Unfortunately, I've not been able to find out anything about this ration (components, weight, caloric yield, etc) and was hoping someone on the forum might have some information to assist me.

Regards to everyone.

Graham Wilson
 
Graham, they would most likely be the surplus rations left over from the Borneo campaign.

They were used by 22SAS and Para Patrol Coys, depending on the menu it was rice/noodles freeze dried meat/curry block or sardines/pilchards, sundries were nuts and raisons, brews, apple flakes.

@haloman could maybe add some more info.
 

4(T)

LE
Serious thought; I wonder if - anywhere - there is a museum that includes a complete collection of ration packs, or perhaps some private collector has this?

I think it'd actually be quite interesting (especially for old soldiers) to go along and identify those favourite old menus.

I'd really like to find out the vintage of the rat pack I was fed as a cadet - the one with tinned sardines (a picture of a sail-powered trawler!) and other stuff that seemed to be WW2 vintage...
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Serious thought; I wonder if - anywhere - there is a museum that includes a complete collection of ration packs, or perhaps some private collector has this?

I think it'd actually be quite interesting (especially for old soldiers) to go along and identify those favourite old menus.

I'd really like to find out the vintage of the rat pack I was fed as a cadet - the one with tinned sardines (a picture of a sail-powered trawler!) and other stuff that seemed to be WW2 vintage...

My bold - Shed D4 Bicester. Not quite a complete collection but a display certainly.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Good morning everyone.

My name is Graham Wilson; I am a retired WO2 Australian Regular Army (9 years infantry, 17 years intelligence), a retired Department of Defence civilian officer (14 years) and now a full time military historian, researcher, writer and consultant.

I'm currently working on my 4th book for the Australian Army History Unit, dealing with the history of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the present day.

At the moment I'm working on the Vietnam section and have just come across a January 1967 reference to the delivery of '1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations for issue to 3 SAS'. These rations were delivered ex-Singapore.

Unfortunately, I've not been able to find out anything about this ration (components, weight, caloric yield, etc) and was hoping someone on the forum might have some information to assist me.

Regards to everyone.

Graham Wilson

Do you work with Bob Breen?
 
Hi Janissary.

@selectvestry sent your letter to me by pm a few days ago and I hadn't the chance to have a look. Sorry about that )


Although I had never heard of these rations my first thought too was that someone must have developed a taste for them in Borneo and requested them. On checking though I couldn't find anyone who served with 3SAS who had also served in Borneo with 1 or 2SAS. The OC of 3SAS on the first tour was Major John Murphy who was a great innovator. He got around a bit too so he might have been the conduit.

I could find nothing in the Commanders Diaries with reference to them. I had assumed that they would have come via FARELF but there is nothing there either.

Books are a bust apart from establishing the fact that if they were a Borneo speciality they must have been invented post 1964. Dickens describes SAS Borneo Patrol rations in 1964 for two men as:

"Two Oxo Cubes, 1oz; two oatmeal blocks, 2 oz; one tin of sardines, 4 ½ oz, one packet of biscuits, 3 oz, two tins of cheese, 3 oz, salt 1 oz; two dehydrated meat blocks 12oz;four vitamin tablets; sugar, 21/2 oz; and , of course, tea ¼ oz, without which no Briton can face his future." (DICKENS, P. SAS Jungle Frontier 1983 p.121)

The Australians at War film archive is always generally good for turning up obscure factoids but the only reference to British rations I could find was what I think is properly compo rations. The following excerpt is from Alan Stewart's interview. Although Alan eventually served with 2SAS in Vietnam the following refers to his service on the Thai Malay border with 3RAR in 1964

http://www.australiansatwarfilmarchive.gov.au/aawfa/interviews/181.aspx?keywords=ration

"A: They were a British, what they call BT packs and people that might listen, I don't know what BT, British something, but they were British ration packs like present day 24 hour Australian ration packs, but one thing that was good about the Brit packs they used to have a Mars bar in it. I couldn't believe it, you know, here was a rationpack with a Mars bar.

03:27:30:00
Of course, and they used to have these big tins of Swift meat. I don't know whether Swift is still around but they were made in Australia, these big tins of vegetables and meat, steak and vegetables I think they were, big tins, and what was the other thing? Oh, they had Danish sausages and kippers. Of course they must have kippers 'cause being Brits. You can't imagine kippers can you, being out in the jungle and Danish sausages and the smell of course?

Q: I was going to say kippers

03:28:00:00
would be a dead giveaway wouldn't it?

A: Wouldn't it, yeah. I mean I don't think it worried us in those days. There used to be a lot of trading off among people. Some people liked kippers and some people liked Danish sausages and so, but before you went bush like back at camp, but if you were in up on the Thai/Malay border this stuff was dropped into you, you know, in big tins of ration packs. So you ate virtually everything in the pack but a lot of trading between people. I remember one pocket I used to stick all the

03:28:30:00
Mars bars in, you know, but after a while they used to melt and there was just a soggy mess. You'd just put your fingers in; just take out a sticky mess, a mouthful of Mars bar.

Q: The ultimate sugar hit.

A: Yeah, it was, it was a real energy build up. I think that was the idea of the Mars bar."

Good luck with the project.

Cheers

Mick.
 
Thanks Mick. Fantastic info - very much appreciated. The thing I appreciated about Brit rat packs in Malaysia in the 1970s was the big bars of 'Club' dark chocolate. I also remember a pack that came with - wait for it - Australian sourced 'Golden Rough' coconut chocolate discs! Oh bliss. If you've ever tackled Oz ration pack chocolate, you'll know what I'm talking about in terms of comparison. Regards, Graham W
 

HE117

LE
There used to be a display of ration packs at Deepcut in the School of Ord.. it could have gone to the RLC museum, but as it was not fitted with rubber wheels, maybe not..
 
Graham, I've had contact with the Army Museum in Chelsea, London, for a project in the past and they were more than helpful. Worth an email.

Good Luck.
 
The Science Museum in London has a ration pack on display that I can remember being issued to me... :hungry:
 

HE117

LE
Reaching back into my memory of the Ordnance Officers Course..

Most UK sourced ration packs were supplied through the Royal Navy Victualling yard at Botley, as the majority of pre-packed food was used for victualling ships.

Rations were supplied in roughly three types:

1. Bulk rations were supplied in "catering" size quantities, typically 2-5 litre cans of preserved items such as processed meat and veg, but also including fats and dry items such as dehydrated potato and milk. These were intended to be issued in bulk to supplement fresh or frozen rations and would be issued to ships and major units running centralised catering. In additon to the core ration issue, there was an expectation of an issue of either bread or biscuit.

2. Composite combat rations. These were intended to be issued directly to troops in the field, and were supplied in individual, four man and ten man packs designed to meet all the ration needs for an individual apart from water and cooking facilities. A separate water and cooker/fuel allowance was provided as required. These rations were nearly all tinned in a variety of sizes, supplied in a cardboard box. A feature of UK tinned rations was that they were left in a bright varnish finish, intended to both protect the contents but also as an incentive for the end user to bury the rubbish. These rations were designed to be used continiously in the field by troops with a working supply chain. It was assumed an individual would receive a ration pack per 24hrs with the remainder of the stock in the supply chain. The rations were all pre-cooked and could be eaten cold.

3. Combat Assult Rations. These rations were largely based on dehydrated items and were packed in foil or plastic pouches. They were intended for short term use, particularly when an individual was operating beyond the normal supply chain and would have to carry a number of days of supply on their person. The ration changed over time, however was largely based on meat extracts such as OXO or "Vesta" supplemented by parboiled and dried rice. These rations were very compact and light, however required considerable amounts of water to reconsitute and were not that palletable when eaten cold (or even when hot!). Included in this category were a number of specialist survival rations for aircrew and lifeboat use.

The intention was always to supply bulk and fresh whenever possible. It was the most nutritious, had the greatest variety and was the cheapest. Composite Rations were the mainstay of the operational reserve, and would be held back until deployment. Assult rations were the most expensive and were never intended for extended use.

The content of the ration has changed over the years, reflecting not only national tastes, but the changing sources of supply. In the post war period, the domestic food supply chain was dominated by canned goods. This has largely disappeared with civilian eating habits driven by better fresh and frozen supply chains. These are not as robust as the older methods, although more attractive...

.. which just goes to prove the theory that the definition of a logistician is "someone who knows less and less about more and more.."
 
Thanks Mick. Fantastic info - very much appreciated. The thing I appreciated about Brit rat packs in Malaysia in the 1970s was the big bars of 'Club' dark chocolate. I also remember a pack that came with - wait for it - Australian sourced 'Golden Rough' coconut chocolate discs! Oh bliss. If you've ever tackled Oz ration pack chocolate, you'll know what I'm talking about in terms of comparison. Regards, Graham W

Hi Graham. I was always a ‘wagon wheel’ rather than a ‘golden rough man’.

What is the history behind the development of post war rations?

The Borneo Ration that Gungythree describes sounds positively modern when compared to the Napoleonic fare which Dickens describes on issue in 1964.

When was the Ration Pack that Australians took to Vietnam developed and why? The 1960’s might have been the decade that Diggers stopped complaining about operational rations. I can’t recall any complaints. Who was responsible for this unusual circumstance?

For those not familiar with it, it close to this one.

A famous Corp colleague of yours, Colin Brown, wrote of 1950’s rations in ‘Stalemate Korea’

Before moving into forward positions everyone was issued with a two day’s supply of American ‘C’ Rations. One day’s rations consisted of three canned meals, of which there were nine varieties, including corned beef hash, ham and lima beans, spaghetti and meat balls in tomato sauce, and pork and beans, amongst others. They were satisfying, but could become monotonous if one had to eat them continuously. Sometimes they sustained us for several weeks at a time. A great deal of trading went on between the men, whose individual tastes gave preference to some meals over others.


Usually, after two days the field kitchens were set up in a small camp to the rear, known as ‘A’ Echelon. On other occasions we had our kitchen within the company defended area – something which we preferred because meals could reach the men in a warmer condition, and it reduced the problems of transportation from a rear area. Sometimes I gained the impression that the cooks were not too keen on the idea!

Occasionally, British canned rations appeared. They were not well received because they were not in individual packs, and dividing the contents of the can between any number of men presented difficulties. Although their quality was acceptable, quantities were regarded as hopelessly inadequate. There was one item which was especially welcome in the winter months – cans of self-heating soup. After removing a cap at the top, a core of thermite through the centre of the can was ignited, and in a few seconds one had a cupful of boiling hot soup. There was no flash, flame or smoke, and this made it ideal for sentries facing the cold winds, where any light would attract unwelcome hostile attention.

The fresh food rations were of a good standard, but sometimes we found through the scale a little light. This was attributed to the fact that we were supplied for a time through British Army channels, which provided less of such items as meat, a favoured part of Australian diet. So we had to find additional supplies to augment standard rations. This was especially necessary when providing the extra meal in the middle of the night. In this capacity we found our American friends helpful”


It is quite clear from Brown’s reminiscence that a revolution in rations occurred in the post Korea period. I’d like to know more about that.

Also, anyone any idea what the self-heating cans of soup were?

I have seen in many interviews that because of the reduced scale of meat rations provided by the British that an additional allowance was paid to Australian Soldiers, particularly in Malaya/sia. Is this actually true and did it apply only in Garrison on operations or both?


Cheers


Mick
 
Combat Assult Rations. These rations were largely based on dehydrated items and were packed in foil or plastic pouches. They were intended for short term use, particularly when an individual was operating beyond the normal supply chain and would have to carry a number of days of supply on their person. The ration changed over time, however was largely based on meat extracts such as OXO or "Vesta" supplemented by parboiled and dried rice. These rations were very compact and light, however required considerable amounts of water to reconsitute and were not that palletable (very light, though!) when eaten cold (or even when hot!).

Actually, I remember the minced and granulated lamb or beef (or whatever it was) as being particularly nice. Pity about having to use up your water on it, though. There was only really enough in the packs for one decent meal, which meant that you had to supplement with sardines and Mars bars, or a sheep.
 
A propos post 17 by HE 117. In Berlin the reserve stocks of rations had to be turned over as they approached their best by date. This involved various techniques including issuing them to cookhouses where appropriate or flogging them off to the marrieds.
 

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top