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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Diet


pantherman
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I have read that the British Army existed largely on Bully Beef, Jam and sometimes Bacon during the Great War. How would this compare with their normal diet in civi street? I mean of course for those who signed up during the war.

Whilst the diet seems poor, I have only read of men putting on weight during service training.

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Its a complex area and diet depended on your social class whether you lived in rural or urban setting, your wealth etc so it is hard to generalise, however from some accounts of the urban working class and the rural poor a staple would appear to have been bread and dripping or jam and tea and not much of it ie shortages of protein and vegetables. This coupled with constant and unremitting labour wore people out. This is not meant to mean that there were not some working clss people who had better jobs and lived relatively well with a joint on the table on a Sunday. The Rowntree investigations into poverty give a lot of information about it

Greg

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Hello somerstown

The soldiers' ration included fresh or preserved meat, bread or biscuit, jam or sugar, and fresh vegetables where available. This was generally a better diet that many working-class families enjoyed, where meat of any kind was not necessarily on the family menu for seven days a week, as Greg implies.

Because of all this, it is a matter of record that most recruits put on both weight and general physique during training.

Ron

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According to the "MANUAL OF MILITARY COOKING AND DIETARY. (1915)" the following are two sample menus for troops in the field (although, presumably not in the line)

Sample Menu No.1

BREAKFAST

Porridge

Tea, Bread and Butter

Fried Liver and Onions

DINNER

Baked Meat and Potatoes

Currant Roll

TEA

Tea, Bread

and Butter

Watercress

SUPPER

Pea Soup

Salmon

Vinegar

and Bread

Sample Menu No.2

BREAKFAST

Porridge

Tea Bread and Butter

Fried Bacon and Tomatoes

DINNER

Irish Stew, Dumplings

Bread and Butter Pudding

TEA

Tea

Bread and Butter

Jam

SUPPER

Lentil Soup

Cheese, Pickles

Bread

And not a slice of Bread and Dripping or a drop of skelly in sight.

Tom t W

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Thank you all for the replies. I was interested especially to read that they had fruit supplied. I was wondering about the risk of scurvy, but that seems to be answered now.

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