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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Field cookers/kitchens


John_Hartley

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Any idea if these were made to a standard design? And who was the manufacturer?

In "Tea, Rum & Fags", Alan Weeks indicates these were "usually based on a design by the manufacturers Rusking & Hornby Ltd". However, Google fails to turn up any reference to this company.

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Ruston did indeed make tanks but they did not become Ruston & Hornsby until Sep 18. Hornsby made tracked vehicles which were demonstrated to the Army some 7 years before the war but the Army wasn't that interested and I think Hornsby sold the patents to Holt (who were American). There is a Hornsby caterpillar in Bovington Tank Museum. Liddell Hart mentions the Hornsby-Akroyd tractor in his Regimental history but stern makes no mention of either Hornsby or Ruston.

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There was certainly a standard design dating from pre 1914 and several marks of this. Not sure who made them though. Some British companies also made field cookers for export pre war to their own design or to meet the specifications of their customers. I would suspect that the British Army supplied the specification to one or more manufacturers.On the lap top at the moment. Will consult files when back on the mainframe.

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I've Googled on Ruston & Hornsby Ltd , and the predecessor companies, and nothing about cookers has turned up.

Centurion - appreciate it if you are able to have a nosy. A technical spec would be brilliant. Alan Weeks must have got his information about them from somewhere but I'm loathe to use the details, secondhand, what with him not getting the manufacturers name right, if you see what I mean.

John

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John

I wouldn't dismiss Ruston's as manufacturers. Their work involved steel plate and that is exactly what field kitchens were made out of. Many manufacturers in WW1 had contracts outside of their peacetime work.

TR

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John

I wouldn't dismiss Ruston's as manufacturers. Their work involved steel plate and that is exactly what field kitchens were made out of. Many manufacturers in WW1 had contracts outside of their peacetime work.

TR

True but the design was pre war so they might be contractors but whether it was their design is another question.

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I need to locate my Horse Drawn Vehicles of the British Army (which has gone AWOL) but my notes indicate that the British Army used a field kitchen designed by Joseph Sankey & Son installed in a variant of the limbered wagon. This makes sense as Sankeys (later incorporated into GKN) were a supplier of field kitchens through WW2 into the recent era and also supplied them to other countries (including the KuK)

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Horse Drawn Transport of the British Army by D J Smith:

"Travelling Field Cooker

This was an improved, mobile version of the standard field kitchen of the Crimean War period. It was a limbered vehicle and, until mechanisation, accompanied most troops on the line of march or in camp, belonging to the regimental transport unit. There was one cooker to two hundred and fifty men and hot meals could be prepared on each vehicle while in transit.

The fore part of the limber carried rations, fuel and assorted equipment, with pole bar and swingle trees for draught gear. It was drawn by two horses with a mounted driver. Continental types were very similar but usually driven from a box seat.

The body section or rear limber had a stove and four boiler compartments each lined with asbestos fibre. The tall stove chimney could be lowered to the horizontal when not in use or when passing under low bridges. Food could be kept hot in the cooker for an almost indefinite period, served whenever a halt was made or camp pitched.

The fore limber was 5 feet 3 inches long and 4 feet 8 inches high (from ground level). The rear limber was 5 feet 6 inches long and 5 feet 6 inches high (from ground level with the chimney lowered)."

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From a history of the company

However, the firm received substantial orders from the Ministry of Munitions during the First World War, and from November 1915, the Albert Street Works became a Controlled Establishment under the authority of the Ministry of Munitions. Albert Street and Hadley Castle produced field kitchens, mine hemispheres, aeroplane parts and bombs, rifle grenades, mortar bombs anti-submarine bodies and shell bodies.

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I think that'll do very nicely. Thanks to all.

And here's a little snippet from the Times, 2/4/15:

The War Office has accepted from the ladies hunting with the Pytchley Hounds, the gift of a motor field kitchen, which will shortly be sent to France and attached to the division which includes the 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment and the Northamptonshire Yeomanry. The funds for the kitchen, amounting to about £600 were collected by Lady Frederick, of Lamport Hall and Mrs H S Horne, of East Haddon, wife of Major-General Horne.”

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Horse Drawn Transport of the British Army by D J Smith:

"Travelling Field Cooker

This was an improved, mobile version of the standard field kitchen of the Crimean War period.

This is incorrect - The British Army had no mobile field cooker in the Crimea. Its first mobile cooker was based on the cooker designed by the great Alexis Soyer after the war. Soyer designed a camp stove used in the Crimea and was completing the design of a mobile cooker when he died in 1858 worn out by his exertions in the war. I believe that Soyer had a business relationship with Sankey who made culinary instruments to his designs

The Sankey kitchen could be installed in a variety of vehicles and also used as a static kitchen.

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The RLC Museum at Deepcut has at least one example of a Soyer stove which gets put to occasional use at open days; I remember reading there that the bulk of the Army's remaining stock of Soyer's went down with the loss of the Atlantic Conveyor during the Falklands campaign (backed up by this article Click )

NigelS

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This is incorrect - The British Army had no mobile field cooker in the Crimea. Its first mobile cooker was based on the cooker designed by the great Alexis Soyer after the war. Soyer designed a camp stove used in the Crimea and was completing the design of a mobile cooker when he died in 1858 worn out by his exertions in the war. I believe that Soyer had a business relationship with Sankey who made culinary instruments to his designs

The Sankey kitchen could be installed in a variety of vehicles and also used as a static kitchen.

"Travelling Field Cooker

This was an improved, mobile version of the standard field kitchen of the Crimean War period..."

Centurion - that says that the design for the mobile field kitchen was based on a Crimean War design - it does not say that the Crimean War design was mobile.

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"Travelling Field Cooker

This was an improved, mobile version of the standard field kitchen of the Crimean War period..."

Centurion - that says that the design for the mobile field kitchen was based on a Crimean War design - it does not say that the Crimean War design was mobile.

The British army had NO field kitchens during the Crimea hence the need for Soyer to invent his stove. Prior to this cooking was ad hoc in cauldrons over camp fires.

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Two new travelling kitchens were announced in List of Changes in Materiel, 1915. These were:

KItchen Travelling "Lune" which had two 20 gallon boilers, a cooking stove and two ovens, one each side of the fire gate. It was also fitted with a removable , double chimney. It was capable of cooking food and carrying rations , fuel etc, for 252 men.

Kitchen Travelling "Mabbott". This consisted of a cylindrical boiler mounted on a wooden frame on two springs over a cranked axletree and two wheels. It had a fire grate at the rear and a cowled chimney at the front.

I have photographs and complete technical specifications for both types. If John Hartley would like to pm me his e mail address I will send the information on to him.

TR

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post-24634-0-32181900-1357071972_thumb.j

Reproduction field cooker used by the Great War Society, believe it's 2/3 or 3/4 scale, based on a surviving model built post-WW1, as far as i'm aware there's no surviving WW1 British field cookers

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"The British army had NO field kitchens during the Crimea hence the need for Soyer to invent his stove. Prior to this cooking was ad hoc in cauldrons over camp fires."

?

http://www.old-pictu...s-house-8th.htm

Kath.

Exactly - cooking using cauldrons over a camp fire - one of the men is leaning on a cauldron. Not a field kitchen.

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I'm grateful to Terry for the information received. I was immediately attracted to the "Lune Valley" model as it's not too far up the road from here - manufactured by the Lune Valley Engineering Company of Lancaster. Google turns up the fact that 8th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters acquired two in 1915, purchased by the "ladies of Nottinghamshire"

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Field Kitchen "in action" 1918 official WO photo

post-9885-0-20802200-1357137871_thumb.jp

More field kitchens in the field (library of Congress Photo)

post-9885-0-89964300-1357137971_thumb.jp

I think this is the Mabbot From Landships - It like the Lune was a presentation cooker - in this case from the City of Manchester. Looks very like a scaled up Soyer Stove. I can find no reference to either the Mabbot or Lune ever being issued - all photos show the type shown in the photos above.

post-9885-0-25699600-1357138069_thumb.jp

A Sankey mobile kitchen as supplied to the KuK pre 1914 still exists and is owned by The Military Vehicle Trust. It was captured from the KuK at Monte Croce by the Italians in 1915 and used by them until 1943 when it passed to the British Army. A different design with twin shafts.

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I'm afraid the picture above is not a Mabbott. The preamble to the 1915 List of Changes says ""A certain number of travelling kitchens of special type have been issued to the Service." It then goes on to identify them as the Lune and Mabbott, so clearly they were issued.

TR

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It would be interesting to know how many (or few) a certain number was. Not many I suspect.

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I'd guess the cooker in the photo must have been issued to a battalion of the Manchesters (and wouldnt I just love to know which).

I agree with Terry - whilst the large single boiler makes it look like a Mabbott, it is different from the model that Terry sent me which has a different chimney and appears to have a rear frying section.

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