Improving Frisky’s Chow Situation

With all the group’s personnel together once again at Ste Mère Eglise, the unit regained an ability to better feed its members. As the 405th Fighter Squadron History for July, 1944, noted, “We “had joy” with the beginning of Class B rations on the 9th of the month as we put away K and 10-in-1’s.”

To be included in a unit history, a fact such as this must have been deemed significant. As an air force flies on its stomach, to paraphrase Napoleon (or was it Frederick the Great), improvements in chow could probably be correlated to improved morale and sustained levels of performance.

With regard to what Frisky had been eating since arriving at A-6 Advanced Landing Ground, let us briefly examine K-rations and the 10-in-1 Ration that Frisky started out with in France, as compared to the B ration he received beginning on 9 July 1944.

The Field Ration, Type K, or the K-ration was designed as a short duration, pocket-sized, individual “assault” ration for paratroopers and other specialized light infantry forces. It was fielded in three separately boxed meal units: breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper. It saw first use in 1942 and was improved as the war went along, and many other units also used it, including the 371st Fighter Group.

K-Rations: “Food for Fighters” is a short, ten-minute, US Office of War Information film circa 1943. It gives some background on rations in general and at about 6:24 gets into the K ration. View it at:

Although three kinds of K-ration meals were made, the standard issue to the troops was only intended to be one K-ration per man per day. Calorie content of a single K-ration was ultimately improved to 2,830 calories, which was probably adequate for some personnel, but inadequate for highly active men. And during the Normandy campaign of 1944, Frisky was VERY active. This was noted in the combat zones around the world, and a 1943 field report did not recommend the use of the K-ration in excess of 10 days given its nutritional limitations.

K-ration Breakfast Unit: canned entrée Veal (early version), canned chopped ham and eggs (all subsequent versions), biscuits, Dextrose or Malted milk tablets (early version), dried fruit bar, pre-mixed Oatmeal Cereal (late version), Halazone water purification tablets, a four-pack of cigarettes, Dentyne or Wrigley chewing gum, instant coffee, and sugar (granulated, cubed, or compressed).  (Courtesy Wikipedia)

K-ration Breakfast Unit: canned entrée Veal (early version), canned chopped ham and eggs (all subsequent versions), biscuits, Dextrose or Malted milk tablets (early version), dried fruit bar, pre-mixed Oatmeal Cereal (late version), Halazone water purification tablets, a four-pack of cigarettes, Dentyne or Wrigley chewing gum, instant coffee, and sugar (granulated, cubed, or compressed). (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Fortunately, Frisky apparently had access to another ration in the early days at A-6, designated as the Ration, 10-in-1, usually called the “10-in-1” ration. This ration was intended to provide one meal for ten men. Development began in 1943, inspired by early experience with various other rations that were discontinued in mid-war, such as the Mountain ration, Jungle ration and the 5-in-1 ration, as well as the British “compo” or 14-in-1 ration.

Te Ration, 10-in-1, was introduced in service after experience gained with other field rations for troops engaged in combat operations around the world.  (Courtesy  X )

Te Ration, 10-in-1, was introduced in service after experience gained with other field rations for troops engaged in combat operations around the world. (Courtesy US Army Quartermaster History)

Essentially superseding the 5-in-1, used successfully by US forces in the North African campaign, the 10-in-1 was built as two 5-in-1s, which allowed for a greater variety in the contents. The number of menus was increased to five as compared to the three of the 5-in-1. A complete group breakfast and supper was provided in the 10-in-1, with a partial dinner (lunch) unit.

Contents of the 5-in-1 ration, an early war ration adapted for use in the 10-in-1 ration.  (Courtesy Y)

Contents of the 5-in-1 ration, an early war ration adapted for use in the 10-in-1 ration. (Courtesy US Army Quartermaster History)

A typical menu included such canned items as meat units, vegetables, biscuits, cereal, butter-substitute spread, jam, beverages, soluble coffee, evaporated milk, , pudding, candy, salt, and sugar.

Accessory items were cigarettes, matches, can opener, toilet paper, soap, towels, and water-purification (Halazone) tablets.

The partial dinner (lunch) unit was enclosed in a cellophane bag-in-carton for easy distribution to the individual soldier for his noontime meal. Within the unit were biscuits, a confection, beverage powder, sugar, gum, and a can opener. These items were provided on the theory that an individual “snack” was sufficient for midday meals, when there would be neither time nor opportunity to prepare the ration for group feeding.

Although at first report it was a welcome shift from the K ration and 10-in-1 to the Ration, Class B, or Type B ration, there was apparently some similarity between them, in that the B was prepared using canned or preserved ingredients, and did not use any fresh, frozen or refrigerated ingredients as found in the Class A ration. The big distinguishing feature seems to be that the Class B ration was prepared in a field kitchen, where it could be hot, better prepared, better seasoned and with a full dinner (lunch) meal made available.

"Speaking of firsts - here's the first mess hall in Normandy and naturally - the first chow hound.  (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.)

“Speaking of firsts – here’s the first mess hall in Normandy and naturally – the first chow hound. (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.)

But any improvement in the field is welcome, and Frisky was better fed at Ste Mère Eglise for the change. The Class B rations would suffice until perhaps some fresh, frozen or refrigerated ingredients of the Class A ration variety could be found or supplied, giving the unit yet another way to improve the fare that kept Frisky flying, fighting and winning.

371st Fighter Group P-47 Thunderbolt two-ship takeoff.  (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.)

371st Fighter Group P-47 Thunderbolt two-ship takeoff. (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.)

References

The 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O., Army & Navy Pictorial Publishing, Baton Rouge, LA, 1946

405th Fighter Squadron History for July, 1944

Army Operational Rations – Historical Background, US Army Quartermaster History, at: http://www.qmfound.com/army_rations_historical_background.htm

K-ration, entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-ration

10-in-1 ration, entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10-in-1_food_parcel

5-in-1 ration, entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5-in-1_ration

B-ration, entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-ration

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