Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source7
Photographs of meal time in the field, 1916-17
(Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum: a. Q1582, b. E AUS 1064, c. CO982, d. Q4839)
  • Source 7a is a photo of British troops receiving dinner rations from field kitchens in the Ancre Area in October 1916.
  • Source 7b shows Australian cooks preparing bully beef rissoles for the evening meal at Ypres in February 1917.
  • Source 7c is a photo taken in October 1916 of a field cooker of the 67th Canadian Pioneer Battalion.
  • Source 7d shows a ration party with food containers going up to the trenches at Arras in March 1917. The men are from the 6th Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.
  • Food was a crucial factor in keeping good morale in an army. British, French and German troops were all well fed at the start of the war. However, as the British naval blockade began to affect Germany, food shortages began to tell on German troops. By 1917 their food was poor. When they attacked in the spring of 1918, the Germans wasted valuable time plundering food and other supplies.
  • The mainstay of the British soldier's diet was corned beef (bully beef), biscuits and jam. However, the average soldier got to eat other meat regularly, as well as stews and casseroles with vegetables and puddings.
  • There were also plenty of rations of tea and bacon for breakfast. Even at the front line, it was possible to get a good hot meal, which was carried up the communication trenches.
  • A typical British working class recruit actually put on weight (about 20 pounds) in his first six months in the army. This suggests he was much better fed in the army than back home.
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