Sunday, February 26, 2006

What did you eat in the war, Daddy?

Photo shows: The Dining Hall at Opicina, optional dining outside when weather permitted

I don’t remember either of my two daughters ever asking me that particular question, but this thread is about food, Army, WW2 style, and is penned while I can still remember it.

No.1 in the category of ‘Food not to die for’ must surely go to Soya Links. These were regularly part of our field rations in Italy and consisted of about nine, 1”x 6” rectangular monsters packed in brine. You had to shake the can vigorously to dislodge them and then they would fall out with a most disgusting plop. I presume that someone must have thought that they tasted like meat but I was never to meet the gentleman concerned.

No.2 in the same category was Bully Beef. If one had the time to cook and spice it properly, then, and only then, it could be made palatable. In most cases we ate it cold from the tin, complete with its congealed fat. Having said that, I once really enjoyed it, see my story ‘Not my worst night, by any means’ (A1996860)

No.3 was M and V or Meat and Veg. I used to think that this was the best of the bunch until we changed coasts to join the Yanks. Our rations then changed dramatically for the better and we were to learn the delights of Spam, tasty Meat and Veg, Rice Pudding and even tinned Fruit Cocktail.

Porridge, a staple breakfast meal, was by tradition always made by the last man on guard, the one doing the 6am to 8am shift and so its quality used to vary from solid salty cement to ambrosia of the gods (that was when I made it)

Cooks used to make all the difference, of course, and I soon tumbled that the Battery cooks were never in the same league as the RHQ cooks and it would appear that COs guarded the chefs with their lives and never allowed them to be subjected to the risks that we other mortal faced.

Finally, when I switched Regiments from Light Ack to the Armoured Corps I found myself acting as cook for two tanks (in addition to my normal wireless op duties). Here I had a chance to cook right from scratch even to meat issued in bulk. I used to carve the meat into manageable chunks, quick fry the chunks using cordite for fuel and then hang the meat in a bucket of salt water from the back of the tank. Later, when we had stopped moving for at least a day I would slice the meat and re-fry it until edible.

I don’t remember anyone ever dying of food poisoning.

What other food have I forgotten and What did you eat in WW2, Daddy?

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