Food in WWI Trenches - Help Please

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by meridian, Dec 9, 2008.

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  1. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    One of my nippers is doing a project on life in the trenches for school and one of the tings they are looking into is what soldiers ate.

    I asumed it would be tinned and dry with a bit of preserved (jams and pickles) stuff thrown in plus whatever could be sent from home but wondered about centralised cooking near the front lines, fresh rations availability etc

    Can anyone point me to some internet resources to dig a bit further?

    Thanks in advance
  2. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Brilliant, thanks Western
  3. Things he/she could take in, still on sale in Tesco's, would be canned mixed vegetables, corned beef, any bread less than 14 days old, plum jam ('When the 'ell is it going to be strawberry?"), cheap cheddar, margarine and tea. Biscuits would be more of a problem, but perhaps cheap pizza bases baked for 10 minutes or until they're hard but not burned would give a flavour.

    From what I've read everyone in the trenches cooked for themselves, adding whatever they could buy or get from home to the basic list. On rest/reserve the company cooks would do better, although sometimes meat, vegetables and bacon could be cooked and then sent up to the line.

    Haven't looked for on-line resources, but 'Tommy' by Richard Holmes covers it well enough to get started.
  4. The daily ration
    1 3/4 pound of fresh or frozen meat, !lb of preerved meat( corned beef)

    1 3/4 lb of bread, or 1lb of biscuit or in hot climate flour

    8oz fress veg.or 2 oz dried

    4oz bacon 3oz cheese

    5/8 oz tea, 1/16 of a tin of condensed milk and 3oz sugar

    the men also recieved a daily issue of rum

    Each week men received

    4oz of jam
    1oz of pickles and small amounts of salt and pepper
    oatmeal could be provided 3 times a week and butter was an extra untill 1917
    In October the raion was reduced to 1lb of meat and 3/4lb preerved meat
    jam was reduced to 3oz but con milk was increased to 1/12 to compensate

    In 1917 the bread ration was cut to 1lb and cheese reduced to 2oz

    support, and line of comunication troops had further cuts at vareying times

    The British Army Handbook 1914-1918 page 248

    hope that helps this is the regulation issue at times they got a lot less and in some fronts starvation was common
  5. Or he could add a bit of humour to his report...

    Baldrick: Right, how about a nice meal, while you chew it over?

    Blackadder: [suspicious] What's on the menu?

    Baldrick: Rat. [shows him a big black rat] Saute or fricassee.

    Blackadder: [peers at the rat] Oh, the agony of choice. Saute

    Baldrick: Well, you take the freshly shaved rat, and you marinade it
    in a puddle for a while.

    Blackadder: Hmm, for how long?

    Baldrick: Until it's drowned. Then you stretch it out under a hot
    light bulb, then you get within dashing distance of the
    latrine, and then you scoff it right down.

    Blackadder: So that's sauteing, and fricasseeing?

    Baldrick: Exactly the same, just a slightly bigger rat.
  6. Forgotten Voices of the Great War has some sections on the food; bread was apparently available, however the lack of packaging meant it was not so clean when it arrived. Water was frequently contaminated with fuel, leading to chronic diarrhoea.

    I believe John Keegan's history of the war says something about food on both sides as well. Remember the Germans ate significantly worse than the British troops, especially towards the end of the war.
  7. Have you given Sudexo a call?
  8. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Happily I never experienced Sodexho (or whatever they are called), food was served by the proper steely eyed dealers of death otherwise known as the ACC

    Anyway, thanks everyone, some great stuff there for her to go on
  9. Try the following link for some pictures of the packaging and food labels used in the trenches. Its a guy who makes stuff for Great War reenactors.

    Tommy's Pack Fillers
  10. As others have said - get hold of Holmes's "Tommy". IIRC tea was brought up to the troops in petrol tins, so had a certain "edge" to it!
  11. This site may be of help
  12. Have a look at Chapter VII of "Over the Top" by Guy Empey (can be found for free on Project Gutenberg). He was a Yank who served in the British army while the US were still neutral (bit of a habit that... coming in late). He goes into detail about the rations at that time, as well as the problems distributing them. If you need a reader for the book, try yBook here, a very useful reader with the ability to load directly from Project Gutenburg.

    Seems they issued OXO cubes even back then...