The saying goes ‘an army marches on its stomach’ and regularly I’m told by my boyfriend Jonathan (a military man himself) about Field Rations he uses during training exercises. Boil in the bag meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, powdered tea and coffees and some much needed extras like biscuits, nuts and chocolate.
Over time military rations have changed but food supplies always had the necessary nutrients for soldiers to be able to fight. During the First World War food had to be carried miles to the men on the front line, often through shell fire and over dangerous ground meaning hot food rarely made it. Troops had to carry emergency rations only to be consumed when no other rations available. To prevent Jonathan digging a trench in the garden, we agreed on an alternative, an experiment to recreate one of the stews made from emergency rations in World War 1.
Corned Beef, carrots, onions, potatoes, white beans, butter and beef stock cubes were standard ingredients and if stock cubes were unavailable then flour could be added to make a thicker texture. All ingredients would be thrown together, cooked and shared between the men.
We gave it a go and it’s safe to say it certainly smelt better than it tasted! No wonder soldiers nicknamed it “a man killer”.
As the Remembrance poppies begin appearing in honour of Remembrance Sunday, take a moment to remember the fallen.
“When you go Home, tell them of us and say, For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”
John Maxwell Edmunds – 1916