FEEDING THE 1914 ARMY – Part 1 of 2

Tuesday, December 29, 1914

In Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury Plains

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “All available men on fatigues.  No training.” [1]

29 Dec 14THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “The poor Belgians in their trenches have gone hungry after many days of battle, because after the fall of Antwerp most of their organization was shattered in the general desolation of their country.  The enemy too has not been exempt from hunger pains.  At least his outposts have been captured as living skeletons with grass or oats in their haversacks.  Many have surrendered for the sake of a meal.

 But the British soldier has at least this in his favour. In spite of all the horrors of war which has put his manhood to the test, he gets his “grub” with unfailing regularity, if there is any possible means of approach to him, and he gets enough and a bit more. It is impossible for him to grouse about that element in his life on the field.  The French soldier envies him and says, as I have heard one of them say, “Ma Fou, Our comrades feed like princes, they even have jam with their bread, Jam!  The smell of bacon comes from their trenches and twitches our nostrils with a most exquisite fragrance, more beautiful than the perfume of flowers.  The English eat as well as they fight which is furiously.”

Divided into one man’s share the following table shows exactly what the British Tommy is allowed each day:

1 ¼ lbs of fresh meat or 1 lb of preserved meat

1 ¼ lb of bread

4 oz. of bacon

3 oz. of cheese

4 oz. of jam

3 oz. of sugar

½ lb of fresh vegetables or 2 oz. of dried vegetables

5/8 oz. of tea, coffee, or cocoa

2 oz. of tobacco per week or 60 cigarettes.

There is more science in this menu than is imagined by the young man in khaki…  The allowance per man has been set by scientific experts after a study of energy units, and other qualities of food.  They calculate that 2,000 “calories” (heat-giving and energy-making units) are required to keep a human being alive, if he is lying in bed, without any physical exertion.  Four thousand five hundred “calories” are required to keep a man’s strength up to full pitch on active service reckoned at a 20 mile marching day. The British soldier’s rations for one day provide him with 5,000 “calories” so that he has 500 to spare for a pal, so to speak.”  [3]

[1] War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Dec 29, 1914.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089681.jpg
[2] “Feeding Army Masterpiece Of Organization,” The Montreal Daily Mail, Montreal, Quebec, Tuesday, December 29, 1914, pg. 5, col. 5.
[3] Ibid

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