World War Two Rations

As Mark Khan reveals, the collecting of militaria items can cover fields far more wideranging than uniforms, medals and weaponry. In this month’s feature on militaria collecting he takes a look at collecting the various ration packs issued to the combatants of the Second World War.

The phrase ‘An army marches on its stomach’ has been attributed to both Napoleon Bonaparte and Frederick the Great. Whoever the originator, the importance of feeding an army is paramount. It is vital that both food and water are provided to maintain an army’s operational capability. Rations not only sustain, but they are an important factor in building morale.

The ordinary British soldier’s rations during the Napoleonic War of 1815 comprised: ‘Two pounds, of a mark’s weight, of bread of maslin (a mixture of wheat and rye), or one and two-thirds of (wheat) flour, or one and one-sixth of biscuit — A quarter pound of gruel, or threesixteenths of rice, or half a pound of fine wheat flour, or of peas or lentils; or half a pound of potatoes, carrots or turnips and other fresh vegetables. — A half pound of fresh meat, or a quarter pound of lard. — A tenth of a litre of spirits, or half a litre of wine, or a litre of beer. — A thirtieth of a pound of salt.’

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