If You Served For The Allies In WWII, This Is What You’d Have To Eat

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So the saying goes, “war is hell.” In some cases, the food isn’t much better. But troops need to eat, and well, if they’re expected to put their lives on the line.

Few recipe books have been published from the trenches, though maybe you’ve heard a story or two about a particularly memorable MRE. More likely, it was the story of the morning after. Still, we can gain a better understanding of what our service members have gone through just by looking at what they’re given for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In the first World War, the food wasn’t much to write home about, though some soldiers did. If you found yourself fighting for the Allies during the Great War, you’d likely come face to face with some hard tack and cigarettes.

Years later, during the second World War, the cigarettes were still part of the deal, but the bread had gotten a little softer. Here are a few of the options our troops were fed during WWII.

Source: flickr/State Library Victoria Collections
A woman packs emergency food rations for troops in foward areas.

10. A-Ration

The most valued and venerable of all rations, and sometimes referred to as the “Garrison Ration,” the A-Ration has been around since the Revolutionary War.

This meal unit contained fresh or refrigerated meat, bread and vegetables, typically prepared on site in base mess halls or kitchens. Additional supplements have been added to, or subtracted from, the ration since its first use, often requiring presidential signature.

According to an act of Congress in July 5, 1838, “the allowance of sugar and coffee to the noncommissioned officers, musicians, and privates, in lieu [of whiskey], shall be fixed at six pounds of coffee and twelve pounds of sugar to every one hundred rations, to be issued weekly when it can be done with convenience of the public service, and, when not so issued, to be provided for in money.”

Alcohol has not been included in the rations since then.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
A WWII Garrison Ration.

9. B-ration

The B-Ration is made for groups of up to 100. The Unitized Group Ration contains breakfast and lunch/dinner meals in cans, boxes, and bags.

B-rations meals are typically canned, packaged, or preserved, and do not require refrigeration. They’re made for easy access and a good source of calories on the front lines.

They were a special treat in WWII, and according to the Army Quartermaster Foundation, “The unitized B-Rations were a preferred ration used during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.”

Nearly 39 million unitized B-Rations were shipped to troops during the operation, at least 22 percent of the total rations shipped during that period.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
A modern-day service member prepares several B-Rations for troops.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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