What was Bully Beef ?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Jan 29, 2009.

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  1. Just reading Slim's Defeat into Victory and the chapter 9, 'The Foundations' he is discussing the problems had in sorting out the Basics of the 14th Army.
    I have done a cut down version of what he says on the subject of the troops Meat ration.

    "Meat is one of the main items on which a soldier fights. The British soldier cannot fight without it."
    'Instead they received Bully Beef, a good enough food in it's self, but terribly monotonous and very unattractive in hot weather it flows half molten from the tin.
    Their where no stocks of alternatives to Bully Beef, no tinned or dehydrated rations.'

    Now I though that Bully Beef was the Corn Beef of my day, Corned Beef even.
    So is this a error that should not have got past proof reading or was there an alternative to Corn Beef called Bully Beef ?
  2. Trench Food

    2nd paragraph down. Says "Bully Beef" was canned corned beef.
  3. I always took this to mean that there were no tinned alternative foods available (veg, processed meals etc.).
  4. ASS
    I did look up Bully Beef on Google and saw the post you have quoted.
    There are several other articles and I am left confused by what is written.
    As I said I my original post Bully Beef to me was Corn Beef.
  5. John, having joined up in the mid fifties, many of our officers and senior NCOs were ex WW2, and they always referred to corned beef as bully beef.

    We were served the stuff fried in batter, mixed with mashed spuds, fried and served up as a kind of hash and several other manifestations which now escape me. In warm weather it does become molten due to the high fat content.

    I still eat the stuff, albeit chilled and sliced thinly and served with a salad, even though I can afford eye fillet whenever I want it.
    Just the tastes that we pick up as youngsters I suppose.

    Good luck.
  6. Bully Beef from the French "bouilli, boiled" Tinned food cooked in the can was first used in Napoleon's Army
  7. Basso - you missed out the corned beef dogs/fritters. As for the other remarks - spot on. It was a real staple. One mess we had a civvy chef who could make corned beef pie that was food of the Gods He also did a sort of leek pudding with corned beef.
    Also, wonder how many were pensioned out with 'wounds crucial, corned beef tin, opening'
  8. When I was a command sig. we used to wait until there were no Ruperts in the ACV and then make an all stations call " Noduf all cans corned beef contam. member this C/S will collect said items ASAP" never failed we had tons of the stuff in the back of the 432 , corned dog sarny anyone?
  9. I think Slim must have been referring to tinned stew etc as an alternative as has been suggested above.
  10. The wartime menu had items such as M+V, or meat and veg as an alternative, Slim is referring to the shortage of items such as this.
    Though of course there was always the soya link
  11. I understand there were alternates to Corned Beef (Bully), Jon, but predictably down to availability and logistics. Whether or not Slim had alternates listed on his Q, if they weren’t available to him for various reasons, not much to be done about it. If you want to take a tin of current CB and leave it outside for a couple of days, if it’s traditional formula it will liquefy as already said.

    In that state, if you had or were able to have the luxury of a fire, not much else to do but cook it up with crumbled biscuits and whatever you may have been able to forage or get en situ. I’ve heard a variety of stories from Veterans of the Far East, suggesting the odd mule appeared on the menu from time to time, as did snake and a lot of other animals. Indigenous or more indigenous men usually better able source irregular alternates.

    A cookery reference: http://www.practicallyedible.com/edible.nsf/encyclopaedia!openframeset&frame=Right&Src=/edible.nsf/Encyclopaedia/CORNED%20BEEF!OpenDocument
    ” History - Salt used to be heavily used as a way of preserving meat. Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were referred to as "corns" of salt. These were rubbed into the beef to preserve it. Thus, the name "Corned Beef" does not refer to any corn used with the meat, but rather to the method used to preserve it.

    Corned Beef was very popular in Ireland. British soldiers issued tinned Corned Beef as part of their World War II rations called it "Bully Beef".”


    ps. what did your German friend make of the Dresden articles?
  12. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    I've just been reading 'Lost Voices of the First World War' again. I was prompted by the death of Bill Stone, who is one of the chapters.

    They talk about Bully Beef, and it sounds like corned beef in that the fat melts when the weather or the tin are hot.

    One also talks about an army message related to the tins of 'pork and beans'.

    'Soldiers should not be disappointed if, on opening tins of pork and beans, they find no pork. The pork has been absorbed into the beans'.
  13. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    As previously mentioned, opening the damned tins could be a real adventure. Especially if the litle key was lost. We sweats always made sure we had spares of those, since the SLR bayonet was not that good at beheading the tins.
    Also in the rat packs of my era (1962 and onward) were 15oz tins of Spam, and the same sized tin of salmon. Very tasty indeed.
  14. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Good Egg (charities)

    You could always improvise with your 'church key'. Make lots of triangle-shaped holes around the edge until the perforations joined and the lid came off.
  15. Anyone remember the scare of 1963/1964 when civilian tins Argentine Corned Beef was contaminated with Typhoid or some such? On exercise in the Brecon Beacons my troop ate like kings because the other troops were too wussie to go for it. Absolutely nothing wrong with the old "compo" rats!!!