With all the grim stories of WW1 being told at the moment, it's a relief to come across the Infographic below that looks at a different aspect of life during the two World Wars.
I'll just balance the paragraph about the soldiers' food having gone off with something I've read recently in the fascinating book about WW1, Mud, Blood and Poppycock by military historian and ex-soldier, Gordon Corrigan.
British commanders knew that, while an army mught not exactly march on its stomach, in the Napoleonic sense, men who were hungry or whose food intake lacked the ingredients essential to good health would not fight as well as men who were well fed. A balanced diet was provided, and the administrative staff took great pains to ensure that it was delivered.
A daily ration for British soldiers (note, not French - their rations were so bad that they contributed to the French army's 1917 mutinies) included:
- 18oz fresh or frozen meat
- 16oz preserved meat
- 18oz bread
- 12oz biscuit
- 4oz bacon
- 3oz cheese
- 8oz of fresh vegetables
- 2oz dried vegetables
The preserved meat was an alternative to the fresh/frozen, the biscuit was an alternative to bread, the dried veg an alternative to fresh. Gordon Corrigan adds:
Soldiers rarely went hungry except in the most extreme circumstances, such as the chaos of First Ypres of the withdrawal of spring 1918. Soldiers did not complain about the lack of food, although they did complain about its monotony.
It's not surprising If not everything worked well; it was an unprecedented situation. I think we can be proud of the national response to the need to feed ourselves. For more about life on the land in WW2, see my review of the recently reprinted Land Girl, A Manual for Volunteers.