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Life In The Trenches - Daily Rations

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The only thing I can think of, that they ate, are those ships biscuits , full of weevils.
Did they ever get any fresh? What did they cook with? I know that the Germans regularly rotated their troops through the trenches and were encouraged to grow crops behind the lines. What did Tommy eat?

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest John Sukey

they did'nt cook in all that mud. rations were brought forward in dixies by ration parties, providing they did'nt get shelled on the way.

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I asked a friend of mine this very question. This is what he sent, no chocolate you'll notice - dreadful.............

British Daily Ration, France, 1914:

1 1/4 lb fresh or frozen mean, or 1 lb preserved or salt meat; 1 1/4 lb bread, or 1 lb biscuit or flour; 4 oz. bacon; 3 oz. cheese; 5/8 oz. tea; 4 oz. jam; 3 oz. sugar; 1/2 oz salt; 1/36 oz. pepper; 1/20 oz. mustard; 8 oz. fresh or 2 oz. dried vegetables; 1/10 gill lime juice if fresh vegetables not issued;* 1/2 gill rum;* not exceeding 2 oz. tobacco per week.
(* at discretion of commanding general.)

The following substitutions were permitted if necessary: 4 oz. oatmeal or rice instead of 4 oz. bread or biscuit; 1/30 oz. choclate instead of 1/6 oz. tea; 1 pint porter instead of 1 ration spirit; 4 oz. dried fruit instead of 4 oz. jam; 4 oz. butter, lard or margarine, or 1/2 gill oil, instead of 4 oz. bacon.

British Daily Ration, India, 1914:
1 lb fresh meat; 1 lb bread; 3 oz. bacon; 1 lb potatoes; 1 oz. tea; 2 1/2 oz. sugar; 1/2 oz salt; 1/36 oz. pepper.

British daily ration, Indian troops:
1/4 lb fresh meat; 1/8 lb potatoes; 1/3 oz. tea; 1/2 oz salt; 1 1/2 lb atta; 4 oz. dhall; 2 oz. ghee; 1/6 oz. chillies; 1/6 oz turmeric; 1/3 oz. ginger; 1/6 oz. garlic; 1 oz. gur.

British Iron Ration, carried in the field:
1 lb. preserved meat; 12 oz. biscuit; 5/8 oz. tea; 2 oz. sugar; 1/2 oz. salt; 3 oz. cheese; 1 oz. meat extract (2 cubes.)

German Daily Ration, 1914
(measured in grams; ounce equivalent in parentheses):
750g (26 1/2 oz) bread, or 500g (17 1/2 oz) field biscuit, or 400g (14 oz.) egg biscuit; 375g (13 oz.) fresh or frozen meat, or 200g (7 oz) preserved meat; 1,500g (53 oz.) potatoes, or 125-250g (4 1/2-9 oz.) vegetables, or 60g (2 oz.) dried vegetables, or 600g (21 oz.) mixed potatoes and dried vegetables; 25g (9/10 oz.) coffee, or 3g (1/10 oz.) tea; 20g (7/10 oz.) sugar; 25g (9/10 oz.) salt; two cigars and two cigarettes or 1 oz. pipe tobacco, or 9/10 oz. plug tobacco, or 1/5 oz. snuff; at discretion of commanding officer: 0.17 pint spirits, 0.44 pint wine, 0.88 pint beer.
The meat ration was reduced progressively during the war, and one meatless day per week was introduced from June 1916; by the end of that year it was 250g (8 3/4 oz.) fresh meat or 150g (5 1/4 oz.) preserved, or 200g (7 oz) fresh meat for support and train personnel. At the same time the sugar ration was only 17g (6/10 oz.).

German Iron Ration:
250g (8.8 oz) biscuit; 200g (7 oz.) preserved meat or 170g (6 oz.) bacon; 150g (5.3 oz.) preserved vegetables; 25g (9/10 oz.) coffee; 25g (9/10 oz.) salt.

But as someone has already pointed out - it all depends on the poor old sod detailed to carry those rations to the guys in the trenches.

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Even if either side got their rations , it still seems dismal.
More like they got very little of their rations, particularly later on.

And frozen meat, in that era, bet the maggots didn't stay out for long. :o

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  • 8 months later...

I read a German book a few years ago, I think it was written by a machine gunner but am not sure anymore. Anyway, they called flies "raisins" as so many were breeding on the dead between the lines that they ended up at the dinner table too.

I wished I still had that book, it was a real good read and had a gynaecologist's practice address (in Hamburg) stamped on the inside of the front cover. I suppose it was also a good read for the women waiting to be seen.


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  • 11 months later...

The only thing I can think of, that they ate, are those ships biscuits , full of weevils.

Did they ever get any fresh? What did they cook with? I know that the Germans regularly rotated their troops through the trenches and were encouraged to grow crops behind the lines. What did Tommy eat?

No it was weevils full of biscuits on the menu. :P

Kev in Deva. :P

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  • 1 month later...

bread and jam

Almost always plum and apple (mixed). "When the 'ell is it gonna be strawberry?". Sorry old chap, the officers and NCOs "copped" most of that. :P Seriously, many times the ration parties got lost and wandered around all night. When it started getting light they had to return to the rear with it being undelivered. Other times the ration parties would become casualties. At other times when under intense shelling prior to an enemy attack (when the need was greatest) ration parties were not sent out to an inevitable death. Either way the result was the same, the men in the line went without food and water.

Dan Murphy

Edited by Daniel Murphy
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