WW2 Brit soldier's notes on Burma rations.

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OzBloke
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WW2 Brit soldier's notes on Burma rations.

Post by OzBloke » Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:39 am

This is from a BBC site and it is an entry in a diary of sorts about the various rations he got while in Burma - US, Australian, Canadian and UK made rations get a mention.

"...All the time that I was in Burma I was behind the Japanese lines and, apart from what we were able to buy from villagers, our food all came in by air. Dropped by Dakotas, occasionally a Liberator and once a Spitfire! During a quiet moment - waiting for a 'drop' perhaps - I put down my views on what we were fed on by the Army. I still have the exercise book I wrote in so here they are:

Rations

When I first had a “K” ration - on a scheme in Shillong - I thought it good. Maybe it was, compared with the sandwiches the Mess usually provided. “Ks“ are American and each meal is done up in two cardboard cartons, the inner one waxed so that it remains damp proof over a long period. They are marked breakfast, dinner and supper, and vary slightly in contents. Each meal contains a tin (with a very neat opener) of meat, cheese, etc. Not much variety in them and I am not very fond of chopped pork and egg yolks, or cheese with chopped bacon. There is also a packet of 5 cigarettes - which don’t interest me. In yet another waxed cover (which makes a useful waterproof envelope afterwards) are the rest of the rations. coffee and sugar (no milk), soup, and lemonade are the drinks. The first two are excellent, the last is useless as it is supposed to be a powder which will dissolve in cold water and it is in fact a glue which won’t even dissolve when boiled. Biscuits are of many different sorts but never up to a good English one. I object to having to eat a corned pork loaf with a sweet biscuit! Coming from the land of chewing gum the stick of gum given is awful - it dissolves into nothing as soon as it is in one’s mouth. The last item is varied - chocolate, fruit bar, caramels, all very good and something called dextrose tablets which just doesn’t mean a thing to me.

I haven’t seen the Australian ration for a few months now but I liked it a lot at one time. One day’s meals are sealed in a tin, but each can be carried separately in its grease-proof packet. Their first advantage over “K” is that they have tea in them. Tea tablets, sugar and milk powder. It is usually better without the milk - it never mixes well. The tins it contains are usually Heinz - varied from beans to meat and veg hash - and all seems moister than the rather dry “K”. There are tins of cheese or jam in addition (or peanut butter - ugh!). The blackcurrant jam is delicious on the digestive biscuits. They also have crisp tasty carrot biscuits sometimes. There are lime pastilles, long glucose sweets and either chocolate crunch bar or “Wheat lunch” as well. There is an Indian variety with a very good fish - sardines in olive oil - instead of meat, and rice instead of biscuits. The curry powder flavours the whole contents however and the Indian tins are usually avoided.

There is also an Australian “Emergency” ration in a tin on which it is far too easy to cut oneself when opening. Not much good as an Emergency, though the contents are doubtless sustaining; it is too easy to eat them quickly! But for sick men who cannot eat rice and curry and as an evening luxury they are ideal. Tea, sugar (no milk), good chocolate, two sorts of fruit bar and some caramels which are only so-so are the full contents. It all appeals to my sweet tooth. The "Emergency" we carry is a thing of tablets, pills, compass, fishing line and what not to last us a whole week - and it is smaller than the Australian.

The British Jungle Ration is excellent (I believe it is produced mainly in Canada). In a tin only 9 “x 6 “x 2 1/2" (which when opened becomes a mess tin) a whole day’s food is packed, except for breakfast and supper meat or fish which are in small tins on their own. These can be left behind when travelling light. The morning separate tins are liver and bacon, fish and egg, and ham and egg, while at night there is a steak and kidney pudding (glorious, but they ought to put some vegetables in) or ham and beef. In the big tin are two thick square biscuits, very short and just right for the cheese and jam that there is too. The jam is often apricot and only seldom have I seen plum. There are two blocks of oatmeal to make porridge, and it is good except that it is pre-sweetened, and unless a long time is spent in crumbling the blocks it comes up very lumpy. Usually I save myself the bother by eating them as they are. Ten good sweets, two bars of chocolate, chewing gum, salt tablets, tea, milk and sugar complete the tin. And the milk is not powdered, but condensed, in a tube like toothpaste. On the whole, I think my favourite for a patrol.

Lastly is the compo tin - 8 day’s rations for one man, but far better if there are two or three to eat it as the inside tins are a bit on the large size for one. It is all packed in a tin like a 4-gallon petrol can. First out are the good old army biscuits (and they are good), cigarettes, matches, tea, sugar, tinned milk, and salt Then there is always butter, jam and a tin of fruit, and cheese. After that it is a lucky dip and you may get seven or eight tins of only M & V (meat and vegetable) but if you are lucky there’ll be sardines and herrings, or salmon, sausages or bacon, peas and french beans, baked beans, Irish stew, bully and just one or two M & V. After a drop, four or five of us used to make a glorious meal of a tin like that!....".

https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2people ... 5401.shtml

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steve1989
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Re: WW2 Brit soldier's notes on Burma rations.

Post by steve1989 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:38 pm

Such rich insight and perspective that could have easily been lost forever. Thank you for sharing this link and copy pasting it here to the forums. It will be a great point of reference for reviewers who happen to find these.

OzBloke
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Re: WW2 Brit soldier's notes on Burma rations.

Post by OzBloke » Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:57 am

Thanks Steve.
Your YouTube vids (which I really like watching) are what got me here to this forum.
I'm ex Aussie AF, and our rat packs in training were the old Aussie Vietnam era style - no retort pouches back then - all hexie stoves, FREDs and 'Harvest' style M&V - which the old hands of the time reckoned were 'luxury' compared to bully beef and biscuits.

Richard w.
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Re: WW2 Brit soldier's notes on Burma rations.

Post by Richard w. » Tue Jul 23, 2019 3:12 pm

He's not the first Englishman I've heard say that they dislike peanut butter.

Always seems odd to me as an American. We love the stuff.

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