You may filter posts by clicking the categories below.


Gives an excellent historical overview of Operational Ration development from the Revolutionary War to the end of World War II.  Focuses on World War II development and fielding of the C, D, K, 5 in 1 and 10 in 1 rations.

From Chapter 1 of “Special Rations for the Armed Forces, 1946-53”, By Franz A. Koehler, QMC Historical Studies, Series II, No. 6, Historical Branch, Office of the Quartermaster General, Washington D.C.  1958

Table of Contents

Early Army Rations
Special Rations in World War I
Reserve Rations
Trench Rations
Emergency Rations
Ration Development 1918-36
Ration Development 1936-41
Field Ration D
Field Ration C
Operational Rations in World War II
The D Ration
Ration, Type C
The K Ration
The Mountain Ration
Jungle Ration
The 5-in-1 Ration
The 10-in-1 Ration
Assault Lunch
Type X Ration
Aircrew Ration
AAF Combat Lunch
Sandwich Packs
Parachute Emergency Rations
Airborne Lifeboat Ration
Liferaft Ration
Kitchen Spice Pack
Hospital Supplement
Aid-Station Beverage Pack
Red Cross Food Pack
End Notes

Note: Illustrations & Tables for this document were not reproduced here.



Early Army Rations

The problem of feeding an armed force engaged in combat, whether in alien or in home areas, has occupied the attention of military leaders since the beginning of organized warfare. Leaders learned that the ability of men to fight was related to the way they were fed and that the answer to the feeding problem often determined victory or defeat. The axiom that an army travels on its stomach is as good today as it has ever been, only now that classical stomach rides in airplanes, ships, tanks, submarines, and jeeps in every terrain and climate of the world. But there is no question that the problems of the army stomach have entered the age of specialization. This fact is increasingly evident as the story of army subsistence unfolds from the early simplicity to the contemporary complexity of the military feeding program.

The earliest rations of the United States Army were all-inclusive in purpose. For more than a century after 1776, the basis of all troop feeding–for soldiers in camp, on the march, in action, or just surviving–was the simple fare of meat and bread, and sometimes vegetables, known as the garrison ration. From the Revolutionary War to World War I, the garrison ration served the unit, the small group, and the individual. Moreover, it was intended to serve them in organized messes, in isolated groups, and in individual situations of combat and survival.

In the Revolutionary War, this all-purpose ration established by resolution of Congress, included beef, pork, or salt fish; bread or flour; peas or beans (or “vegetable equivalent”); milk; rice or Indian meal; and spruce beer or cider. Candles and soap also were authorized “essentials.” 1 Ordinarily, preparation of the food was up to the soldier. To provide fresh meat, cattle and hogs were driven to camp at “proper seasons” for slaughter and curing. Depending on the availability of supplies, other occasional variations were provided from time to time. One of the most welcome was “spirits”2.

Immediately after the Revolutionary War, the issue of meat was reduced and fresh foods virtually disappeared from the ration. The changes were not without their effect on the health of the soldier nor was this result to go unnoticed. Dr. Benjamin Rush, Army Surgeon in 1777-78, and others, complained of the lack of fresh vegetables and pointed out that more soldiers died from sickness than were killed by the sword.3 There was, however, little that could be done to increase the supply of fresh foods-food preservation and transportation facilities were primitive and undeveloped and decades were to pass before these factors helped improve military subsistence.

Some attempt was made after the Revolution to increase the fare of the soldier serving on the frontier. In recognition of the severity of frontier life, Congress, in 1796, authorized the issue of additional amounts of flour or bread, beef, pork, and salt as supplementary items to the regular garrison ration.4 Coffee appeared in the ration in October 1832, when President Andrew Jackson substituted coffee and sugar for rum and brandy. This Presidential substitution was recognized by Congress in the Act of July 5, 1838, which declared “that the allowance of sugar and coffee to the noncommissioned officers, musicians, and privates, in lieu [of whiskey], shall be fixed at six pounds of coffee and twelve pounds of sugar to every one hundred rations, to be issued weekly when it can be done with convenience of the public service, and, when not so issued, to be provided for in money.” 5

To provide a better diet for the Civil War soldier than the Revolutionary soldier had, Congress, on August 3, 1861, authorized the following “temporary” increases in the garrison ration:

That the Army ration shall be increased as follows viz: Twenty-two ounces of bread or flour, or one pound of hard bread, instead of the present issue; fresh beef shall be issued as often as the commanding  officer of any detachment or regiment shall require it, when practicable, in place of salt meat; beans and rice or hominy shall be issued in the same ration in the proportions now provided by the regulation, and one pound of potatoes per man shall be issued at least three times a week, if practicable, and when these articles cannot be issued in those proportions, an equivalent in value shall be issued in some other proper food, and a ration of tea may be substituted for a ration of coffee upon the requisition of the proper officer. Provided, that after the present insurrection shall cease the ration shall be as provided by law and regulations on the first day of July, 1861. 6

The principle of soldier-acceptance of foods-now a cardinal requirement for Army rations-was given recognition during the Civil War. Coffee extract, preserved meats, and desiccated vegetables were authorized for procurement if they were “not more expensive” and were “acceptable to the men.” 7 Much of the canned food, however, was found to be defective and subsequently became the target of investigations of suppliers and the supply system. Condiments and flavorings were sanctioned in the Act of March 3, 1863, which stated that “the Army ration shall hereafter include pepper, in the proportion of four ounces to every hundred rations.” 8 At the close of the Civil War, the basic ration for the soldier included ž -pound of pork or bacon, 1 ź pounds of fresh or salt beef, and 18 ounces of flour. In varying proportions based on 100 rations, he was provided with potatoes, peas, beans or rice; coffee or tea; sugar; vinegar; salt and pepper; candles; and soap. On campaigns or marches, corn meal and hard bread were issued.9 For those items not officially approved nor always available, it was expected that the soldier would resort to forage to augment the food supplied to him.

During the Indian campaigns of the period 1865-1890, the rations, still based on the pattern inherited from the Civil War, were described as monotonous, unpalatable, and clumsy. The generally good health of the frontier soldier was attributed less to the ration than to vigorous life in the open, hard work and physical exercise, and ability to adapt the bounty of the countryside to his needs. When fresh foods were not available, the nutritional inadequacy of the ration could and did result in scurvy and other ailments. In some instances, permanent garrisons made attempts at gardening and farming in order to supplement the ration with fresh vegetables. Desiccated and dehydrated vegetables also were supplied to troops on the frontier and the items-dried onions, cabbage, beets, turnips, carrots, and green peppers-generally were well received. Dehydrated items were adapted as “trail rations” to be eaten by the troops as they rode or trudged along. “Pemmican” was another trail-type ration in use during this period. An historical account described the process of making pemmican as follows:

This food [pemmican], called wasna by the Dakota Sioux, was made by pounding buffalo meat into shreds, mixing dried berries or wild choke cherries into the meat, stuffing it into a hide bag, and sealing the bag with melted tallow. The choke cherries were usually pounded, stones and all, into the dried buffalo meat. Wild plums, gooseberries, and currants were also used in the pemmican and it has been asserted that grasshoppers were included in some recipes-probably to increase the range of amino acids available or otherwise fortify the product.10

Jerked beef and pinole were other Indian items adopted for Army use on the frontier during this era. Their manufacture was described in the following fashion:

Jerked beef is simply strips of lean beef hung out in the air of dry climate until nearly all of the moisture disappears, while the nutritive parts remain. . . . “Pinole” is parched and ground wheat or corn; the packing renders the grain tender, easily masticated and digestible. Like the jerked beef, it is deprived of most of its moisture.11

During the Spanish-American. War, the prescribed ration was beef (or its equivalent), flour or bread, baking powder, beans, potatoes (fresh), green coffee, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, soap, and candles. Progress in the preparation, handling, shipping, and storage of foods was then considered to be sufficiently advanced to justify the procurement of large supplies of fresh and canned meats. The spoilage of great quantities of those items, with deleterious effects on the health of the soldier, remains a controversial blot on the military subsistence record. The lack or spoilage of fresh foods was at least a contributory cause to mortality statistics, which showed that fourteen soldiers died from illness and disease for every one who died from battle causes. 12

Special rations for specific purposes may be said to have originated in definitions of rations issued by the Army in 1901. Rations were then divided into five categories:

For troops in garrison (garrison ration).

For troops in the field in active campaign (field ration).

For troops when traveling otherwise than marching, or when for short periods they are separated from cooking facilities (travel ration).

For troops traveling in vessels of the United States Army transport service.

For use of troops on emergent occasions in active campaign (emergency ration). 13

The standard items listed for troops in garrison included fresh beef; flour; beans and potatoes; prunes; coffee and sugar; vinegar, salt, and pepper; and soap and candles. Fresh mutton, bacon, canned meats, and dried, pickled, and canned fish were to be used when it was impracticable to secure the standard items. Peas, rice, hominy, onions, canned tomatoes, and fresh and “desiccated” vegetables were added to the vegetable components. Apples and peaches were alternated with prunes; tea was a substitute for coffee; and cucumber pickles joined with the “seasoning components.” Substitutions were particularly foreseen in the Alaskan service and for situations in which transportation was a factor. 14

The field ration included the basic components of the garrison ration-meat, bread, vegetables, fruit, coffee and sugar, seasoning, and soap and candle. Substitutes included fresh mutton, canned meat and bacon; soft and hard bread; hops and dried or compressed yeast; rice, onions, desiccated potatoes and onions, and canned tomatoes; tea; and cucumber pickles.

Soft or hard bread, canned corned beef, baked beans, tomatoes; roasted and ground coffee, and sugar were provided for troops traveling otherwise than by marching. Food for troops on transports was to be prepared from garrison subsistence stores varied, when required, by the substitution of other authorized articles of equal money value.

The emergency ration was for issue on active campaigns only when regular rations were unobtainable. It was a packaged ration carried in haversack or saddlebag. Its form and substance were determined by the War Department.

The components of garrison and field rations were revised again in 1908 when corned beef was authorized for the garrison ration when fresh meat was not available. Chicken or turkey was approved for issue on national holidays. Fresh vegetables were to be issued when obtainable in the vicinity or when they could be transported in a wholesome condition from a distance. Evaporated and unsweetened milk were other important additions. 15

Thus, throughout the early wars of the nation, from the Revolution to World War I, the chief food for the soldier for all purposes-in camp, field, and combat-was the Congress-enacted garrison ration, which consisted basically of meat, bread, and some vegetables. In its gradual development, it came to include some of the newer components provided by progress in food technology. Although the garrison ration was the backbone of the feeding program, the necessity of special foods for extraordinary conditions of warfare or military campaigns was not overlooked. The advent of World War I, with its tremendous accent on mass movement and mass supply to far-off centers, brought to life those concepts of specialized rations with which this history will deal. Some of the wartime rations had prototypes or genesis in the earlier programs. Nevertheless, it was the great development in the production, distribution, and storage of food that came after the turn of the century that laid the basis for special-purpose rations. The problem of feeding the soldier, engaged in military activities at home and at many and varied points throughout the world, was to become a problem of specialization. Its solution was to require the combined efforts of science, the food industry, and the food supply services of the military establishment.

Special Rations in World War I

Reserve Ration

Three special-purpose rations came into general use in World War I-the reserve ration, the trench ration, and the emergency ration.16 The first of these was an individual packaged ration which the soldier carried on his person for utilization when regular food was unavailable. The reserve ration, which sought to provide a complete food allowance for one man for one day, included a one-pound can of meat (usually corned beef), two 8-ounce tins of hard bread, 2.4 ounces of sugar, 1.12 ounces of roasted and ground coffee, and 0.16 ounce of salt. It weighed about 2 ž pounds and contained about 3300 calories. The food was considered ample and satisfying but the packaging, in cylindrical cans of one-pound capacity, was far from practical or economical.17

Trench Ration

As its name implies, the trench ration was designed to provide subsistence under conditions of trench warfare. The unit consisted of sufficient canned meats and canned hard bread to provide 25 men with food for one day. The canned meats were roast beef, corned beef, salmon, and sardines. Other components included salt, sugar, soluble coffee, solidified alcohol, and cigarettes. The unit was packed in large, galvanized containers designed to protect contents from poison gas.15 Although the trench ration was to be prepared as a hot meal, it could be utilized without preparation or cooking. The ration had the advantage of convenience, afforded excellent protection against poison gas, and provided a wider diet than the reserve ration. Its disadvantages were an excessive use of iron and tinplate, which made it heavy and difficult to handle; the unsuitability of the units for a single meal; the invitation to spoilage and contamination offered by opened containers; and its nutritional inadequacy.

Emergency Ration

The emergency ration, popularly known as the “Armour” or “iron” ration, was a packaged unit of concentrated food carried by the soldier to sustain life during emergencies when no other source of subsistence was available. It consisted of three 3-ounce cakes of a mixture of beef powder and cooked wheat and three one-ounce chocolate bars. These hardy items were contained in an oval-shaped, lacquered can which fitted the soldier’s pocket. At the time of the Armistice, about two million rations had been shipped to France.19 Manufacture was discontinued after the war, and in 1922 the item was officially eliminated from the list of Army rations. Some of the emergency rations procured in World War I were subsequently used by aircraft pilots on Mexican border patrols, a usage which suggests that the item has some claim to parentage of modern Air Force flight rations.

* * *

In retrospect, the development and utilization of the reserve, trench, and emergency rations provided ample evidence that special types of rations were required for special military situations. It was recognition of this need that gave impetus to the ration development program which reached its high point during World War II when United States troops, and their feeding problems, were found in every corner of the world.

Ration Development 1918-36

While the trench ration died a natural death and the emergency ration became obsolete, some attention was given by the Quartermaster Corps to further development of the reserve ration. In 1920, it was suggested that the ration could be improved by making its container easier to carry, by dividing the unit into separate meals, by adding chocolate, and by replacing roasted and ground coffee with the soluble variety. There were, however, no suggestions for radical departures from the basic pattern of canned meat, tinned bread, and beverage. Probably because of the lack of interest then evident, it was generally considered that the ration was “good enough” in its wartime version.

Attempts by the Quartermaster Corps Subsistence School 20 to improve the ration did produce an Army specification for the item in 1922. 21 Under its terms, the components of the ration were to include:

Corned beef or Chocolate____ 3 oz.

dried sliced beef_____1 lb. Soluble coffee

Hard bread_________ 14 oz. Tablet sugar

The meat was packed in two small, sardine-type cans, each about 1 by 4 by 4 inches in size. There were two tins for the bread, chocolate, and coffee, each tin about 1 by 2 by 8 inches in size. The components were packed in a unit carton overwrapped with oiled paper. It was a considerable achievement that 10,000 of these rations (costing about $1.33 each) were procured in 1923.

The reserve ration was revised again in 1925 when the quantity of bread and corned beef was reduced and the dried beef was replaced by pork and beans. Oblong cans were still specified, although it was known that quantity production of that item was impossible. In 1930, the Army War College called the revised ration superior, termed its keeping qualities excellent, and pointed to the high degree of its utility.22 Further development nearly came to a standstill in the depression of the 1930’s although some experimental reserve rations were packed in round cans by the Subsistence School in 1932. Four years later, the newly created Quartermaster Subsistence Research and Development Laboratory23 produced an experimental pack of a reserve ration containing an A unit with corned beef and a B unit with pork and beans. There was no change in the remaining components-the planners stood pat on hard bread, soluble coffee, chocolate, sugar, and cylindrical can.24

This meager bit of postwar experimentation, aimed at improving the one special ration then possessed by the Army, soon faded before the import of new tactical doctrines, relying on masses of airplanes and fast-moving tanks, that altered the entire concept of warfare and of special rations. Trench rations gave way to foods that could be utilized on the move. The development of such rations was beginning to take form in 1936 just as the specter of war began to loom over Europe.

Ration Development 1936-41

The period beginning in 1936 marked the inauguration of modem ration research. The impetus for this development was the impending threat of war; the means of development were provided by the Quartermaster Subsistence Research and Development Laboratory whose birth in 1936 chronicled the start of the modern era of ration research. In the next five years, the Laboratory produced two new rations-Field Ration D and Field Ration C-and, more important, laid the foundation for the wartime program.

Field Ration D

An emergency ration, proposed for the cavalry in 1932, is generally considered the direct forerunner of Field Ration D. The item then suggested was a 12-ounce bar of equal parts of bitter chocolate, sugar, and peanut butter. Although palatable, the experimental bar had poor keeping qualities, was thirst-provoking, and had poor acceptance. While it did not progress beyond the experimental stage, it did provide groundwork for experiments on -a concentrated ration which were initiated by the Subsistence School in 1935.

Originally, the 1935 development was called the Logan bar in recognition of Col. Paul Logan, then head of the Subsistence School. The Logan bar was designed to provide the highest possible caloric value in the smallest package and yet retain sufficient palatability to be used daily. Its ingredients were chocolate, sugar, oat flour, cacao fat, skim milk powder, and artificial flavoring. Three 4-ounce bars-wrapped in aluminum foil, then overwrapped and sealed in parchment paper-constituted a ration. Despite the requirement that it qualify for continued daily use, the Logan bar was never considered by its developers for other than emergency or stopgap purposes. It was procured on an experimental basis in 1937 and was submitted for field trials during the ensuing year. Although judged by the tests to be satisfactory only as an emergency ration, the bar was proposed for “standardization” in 1939 in the dual capacity of both a “reserve” and an “emergency” ration. The spirited discussion of the conflicting concept of the new ration implied in this dual designation had the happy result of bringing about a revision of the Army regulation covering rations and of identifying the bar as Field Ration D, the official emergency ration.25

By June of 1940, a tentative specification had been written and the Army was in position to inaugurate large-scale procurement of D bars. Trial production brought refinements to the method of manufacture but wrought no basic change in original structure and composition. Full-scale production was initiated in 1941 and monthly output swelled from 200,000 in September 1941 to ten million a year later.

Field Ration C

This ration resulted from prewar attempts to produce a stable, palatable, nutritionally balanced combat ration which would provide the individual soldier with three full meals per day.26 Although isolated attempts to develop “meals-in-a-can were reported as early as 1932, 27 the initial research for the C ration was credited to Maj. W. R. McReynolds, first director (1936-38) of the SR&DL. McReynolds proposed to supplement the reserve ration with a complete meal-such as beef stew, beef with noodles, family-style dinner, lamb stew, and Irish stew-packaged in 12-ounce rectangular cans. By June 1938, this plan evolved into a proposed ration which was to consist of three meat units and three bread units.28 The six-can proposal was looked upon with favor and its development, as a replacement for the reserve ration, was recommended by the Quartermaster Corps Technical Committee. Historians and others have stressed the fact that only $300 was awarded to the Laboratory for continuation of this original development.

By 1939, the Laboratory had proposed ten varieties of meat combinations for the ration. Also it recommended that the 12-ounce rectangular can be discontinued and that the ration units be packaged in 16-ounce cylindrical cans. Thus increased, the six-can ration contained 4,437 calories and weighed five pounds ten ounces. By September 1939, it was recognized that the suggestion for ten varieties of meat combinations was probably visionary since manufacturing processes were not yet ready to produce untried combinations. It was necessary, therefore, to reduce the variety of M-units to meat and beans, meat-and-vegetable hash, and meat-and-vegetable stew.

This was the form and content of U. S. Army Field Ration C when the revised Army regulation on rations was announced in 1939. It was also the ration procured for the Army maneuvers of

1940 where it was subjected to stern field trials. From that test emerged a range of criticisms: the cans were too large and bulky; the meat lacked variety, was too rich, and contained too many beans. Yet, there was agreement that the new C ration was nutritionally adequate and was “one of the best field rations . . . ever issued to the Army.” 29

As a result of the field recommendations, the 16-ounce can was abandoned and a 12-ounce can adopted as the standard size for the ration. The number of biscuits in the B unit also was reduced and chocolate and soluble coffee added. Production experiences brought improvement in the quality of the meat components. Later changes, effected before the end of 1941, introduced individually wrapped hard candies and chocolate caramels.

The first large-scale procurement for 1,500,000 rations, was initiated in August 1941 as the ration was being readied for the under-fire role it occupied during the ensuing war years as “the chief operational ration . . . in use for tactical situations in which the field kitchen cannot be used.” 30

Operational Rations in World War II

As a result of these developments, the Army entered World War II with two established special-purpose rations-Field Ration D and Field Ration C. Ration D was used throughout the war as the Army’s emergency ration and as a supplement to other rations. The C ration went through an evolution which ultimately produced an outstanding ration for the purpose it was designed to meet-a daily food which the soldier could carry and use when he was cut off from regular food supply sources.

The use of these rations after 1941 revealed their inability to meet all the many feeding problems imposed by new combat conditions. Therefore, a succession of rations, individual food packets, and ration supplements was developed and came into use before the war’s end. The haste attached to the initial wartime ration development indicated that the country was no better prepared to cope with the food problem in 1941 than with other problems of war supply. The early trial-and-error method was proof, too, that haste made waste. Nevertheless the food program ultimately evolved for the American soldier was firmly based on the premise-“that all troops . . . be fed the best food available in the best and most appetizing form within the realm of reasonable possibility particularly . . . troops in combat.” 31 For the citizen soldier, for the most part accustomed to good food in civilian life, “what do we eat” became as important, if not more so, than “when do we eat.” In addition to providing an acceptable answer to this query, ration developers had to pay equal attention to military utilization, to stability and storage requirements, to nutritional values, to demands for shipping space, and to the necessity of going beyond commercial practices to protect packaged foods on the long journey from American factories to theaters of action. Add factors of warborn shortages of material and the continued necessity for providing adequate interim substitutes and the magnitude of the ration-development problem in World War II becomes evident.

Despite obstacles, many varied and excellent rations, packets, and supplements were developed and supplied to the World War II soldier. In volume, approximately one billion special rations, costing about 675 millions of dollars, were procured between 1941 and 1945 (see table 1). 

The list includes such individual rations as the lightweight K ration, the emergency D ration, and the food-for-a-day C ration. Need of rations in specific climates produced the mountain, jungle, and desert rations. Packets produced for subsistence requirements in flight were an aircrew lunch, a parachute-emergency packet, and an in-flight combat meal. At-sea survival called for lifeboat and liferaft rations and pointed to the desirability of all-purpose survival foods. Supplements were designed to augment other rations:

namely, the aid-station and hospital beverage packs that provided beverages for casualties at advance medical posts, and the kitchen spice pack for use by mobile kitchens. At the end of the war, the assault packet, intended to provide a quick-energy snack before combat, was in production.

The D Ration

Specifications governing the composition of the D ration were only slightly changed during the entire life of the ration. The ingredients were chocolate, sugar, dry milk, cacao fat, oat flour, and flavoring-a mixture providing 600 calories per bar. Some changes in packaging requirements were necessitated by material shortages and by suggestions for improvement. In 1944, when emphasis was given to use of the bar as a supplement to other rations, a half-size or two-ounce bar was introduced to provide a smaller unit.

The D ration was procured in quantity almost from its inception. The 600,000 rations purchased in 1941 were followed by 117,800,000 rations in 1942. By then, the volume on hand was so great that the rations were stockpiled overseas and none procured in 1943. A final procurement of 52 million rations was made in 1944.

Misuse of the D ration as a combat food led to its unpopularity and replacement before the end of the war by the C and K rations. In 1945, it was classified as “limited-standard” and recommendations followed that the governing specification be cancelled.32

Utilization of the oversea stockpile of D rations was of concern to The Quartermaster General early in 1945 when he requested that the Laboratory study the possibility of using excess D bars in some acceptable food product for Army or civilian feeding.33 The Laboratory asked candy manufacturers for recommendations regarding such utilization and also queried them on their ability to absorb some of the bars.34 Industry offered no suggestions and naturally was reluctant to take over the rations on hand. The oat flour in the chocolate and the cost of stripping the wrappers from the bars were understandable reasons for this reluctance. It was suggested that excess bars be unwrapped by prisoners-of-war, packed in containers, and shipped to plants for reprocessing into a chocolate confection that could be used for emergency feeding of civilians in war areas.35

A salient omission in the development of the ration had been the lack of a program to inform the user of the purpose of the bar. There was in consequence little effort to confine the D ration to its proper place as an emergency food. While it admirably met the requirements for an emergency pack as to weight and space, was nutritionally adequate, and had good storage and keeping qualities, it was not a popular item. Misuse of it added to this unpopularity. The D bar nevertheless had been the ration that led the way to the intensive research conducted in Army subsistence during the war.

Ration, Type C

The other Army ration available when the country entered World War II, Field Ration, Type C, as a ration of meat and bread components, had the prewar characteristics of the 1918 “reserve ration” but had a better balance than its predecessor, good keeping qualities, and sturdy packaging. Its disadvantages were that it was troublesome to carry and that its manufacture posed difficult production problems. These difficulties provided the incentive for the improvements which produced today’s individual “combat” or C ration. The ultimate form in which this ration emerged from the war, however, came only as hostilities were ending and before wide distribution could be made.

A major problem of the C ration concerned its meat components. Procurement was at first of necessity confined to items which could be produced in volume, and variety in consequence was of secondary importance. Hence, the early waves of criticism from the field were aimed at the monotonous meat diet offered by the first C ration. Troops not only encountered repetitious meat-and-hash combinations but also met them on returning to central messes where they were served duplicates of these combinations in B rations.

It was little wonder that there was much early denunciation of the C ration.

Despite constant effort, attempts to increase the component variety, and hence ration acceptance, were not easily or quickly successful. New or substitute items could be introduced only after productive ability had been coordinated with laboratory research. Early improvements embraced a better selection of confection items, inclusion of cigarettes in the B unit of the ration, and modifications required by wartime advances in packaging technology.

Until early 1944, separate specifications were used for the so-called B or bread unit of the ration and for related components. In June of that year, the component specifications were consolidated into one specification which abandoned the title “U.S. Army Field Ration C” and adopted the nomenclature “Ration, Type C, Assembly, Packaging and Packing.” 36 Under its terms the ration consisted of three cans of B units, three cans of M or meat units, and one accessory pack. Six combinations of components or menu arrangements were specified to provide variety to the ration. Six B units were listed, two each for breakfast, dinner, and supper. B unit components, varied in accordance with a grouping which would fit the meal, included biscuits, compressed and premixed cereal, candy-coated peanuts or raisins, soluble coffee, sugar, lemon- or orange-juice powder, hard candies, jam, cocoa beverage powder, and caramels. The accessory packet included nine “good-commercial-quality” cigarettes, halazone water-purification tablets, book matches, toilet paper, chewing gum, and an opener for the meat cans. The varieties of canned meats were meat and beans; meat-and-vegetable stew; meat and spaghetti; ham, egg, and potato; meat and noodles; pork and rice; frankfurters and beans; pork and beans; ham and lima beans; and chicken and vegetables. The unpopular meat-and-vegetable hash and English-style stew-which were the first additions to the original three-were abandoned because of poor acceptance.

The final wartime version of the specification was published in April and amended in July 1945. It contained still more improvements resulting from field tests and combat experiences. Hard candy and candy-coated peanuts and raisins were deleted from the B units because of poor keeping quality, and a fudge disc and cookie sandwich were substituted. Salt tablets to alleviate heat exhaustion were added to the accessory pack. The ultimate revision also substituted sugar tablets for the granulated type, increased the variety of beverage powders, and added a compressed cocoa disc to the list of B components. At the request of The Surgeon General, halazone tablets were deleted from the accessory pack. Beef stew was a new canned meat component. The accessory pack was divided into two packets, first named the “long” and the “short” pack and later, the “accessory pack” and the “cigarette pack.” Gum, toilet paper, can opener, granulated salt, salt tablets, and wood spoons were included in the “long” pack.38 The cigarette pack consisted of three units of three or one unit of nine cigarettes, and matches.

Due to the natural lag between development and supply and the extensive stockpiling of “old” C rations, this “new” version was not procured in sufficient time to win in wartime the praise that later became attached to “Ration, Combat, C-2.” The criticisms of monotony and unacceptability, though often made for reasons attributable to misuse and overuse rather than to ration content, held true as far as the World War II user of C rations was concerned.

The K Ration

The K ration was the Laboratory’s answer to the demand for an individual, easy-to-carry ration that could be used in assault and combat operations. It was noted for compactness and superior packaging and was acknowledged as the ration that provided the greatest variety of nutritionally balanced components within the smallest space.

Although other related items appear in its ancestral background the actual prototype of the K ration was a pocket ration for paratroopers developed by the SR and DL at the request of the Air Force early in the war. Two original samples (one with pemmican biscuits, a peanut bar, raisins, and bouillon paste; the other with pemmican biscuits, a small D bar, a meat preparation, and beverage (powder) evolved into the one-package breakfast-dinner-supper combination used first by paratroopers. The three-meal combination contained such common units as pemmican biscuits and gum. In addition, the breakfast unit furnished malted milk tablets, canned veal loaf, soluble coffee, and sugar; the dinner package had dextrose tablets, canned ham spread, and bouillon cubes; and for the supper unit there were the D bar chocolate, sausage, lemon powder, ant sugar. The Army quickly noted the success of the new ration with the paratroops and in 1942 the item was adopted for all-service use as Field Ration, Type K.39 The instantaneous success of the ration with attendant popular publicity, was a source of amazement to the developers.

Success was not a deterrent to continued research. Many change were effected in the components and packaging of the K ration during the seven revisions of the ration before the final World War II specification was published.40 During that period the variety of biscuits was increased, newer and more acceptable meat products were introduced, malted milk tablets and D bars gave way to a variety of confections, additional beverage components were provided in improved packages, and cigarettes, matches, salt tablets, toilet paper and spoons were ultimately included as accessory items.

The cartons containing the individual meals also were subject to many changes. The first cartons were coated both inside and out with a thermoplastic compound. Later they were wax-coated on the outside only, wrapped in waxed paper, then coated with’ a commercial product made from “unmilled crepe rubber and blended waxes,” specified not to melt at 135 degrees nor “crack, chip, or otherwise become separated” from the surface of the carton at minus 20 degrees below zero. Other types of packages were tested, including a “thread opening fiber bodied can with metal ends.” The wax-impregnated materials prevailed, however, and the ultimate requirements were for the familiar wax-coated inner carton placed in a second carton labeled and colored to indicate whether its content was breakfast, dinner, or supper.

As finally specified, the breakfast packet contained a canned meat product, biscuits, a compressed cereal bar, soluble coffee, a fruit bar, gum, sugar tablets, four cigarettes, water-purification tablets, a can opener, toilet paper, and a wooden spoon. The dinner carton had a canned cheese product, biscuits, a candy bar, gum, a variety of beverage powders, granulated sugar, salt tablets, cigarettes, and matches, a can opener and spoon. The supper packet included a canned meat product, biscuits, bouillon powder, confections and gum, soluble coffee, granulated sugar, cigarettes, can opener, and spoon. The biscuits, beverages, sugar, fruit bar, confections, gum, and spoon were packaged in a laminated cellophane bag while the canned meat and cheese product were put in a chipboard sleeve-type box. The two units were assembled and sealed in a waxed carton inclosed in the nonwaxed outer carton labeled with the K ration design and color. Twelve complete rations were packed in a fiberboard box which was overpacked in a nailed wood box for oversea shipment.41

K Ration Breakfast    K Ration Dinner    K Ration Supper

The first million K rations were ordered in May 1942 and were followed by increasing millions. In 1944, the peak year of production, more than 105 million rations were procured. Toward the end of the war, the usefulness of the K ration was coming to an end as a result of the emergence of a superior C ration. In postwar 1946, an Army Food Conference recommended that the K be discontinued and in 1948 the ration was declared obsolete by the Quartermaster Corps Technical Committee.42 It was then recommended that depot stocks be disposed of by utilization in the civilian feeding program overseas.

Like other unpopular items, misuse was a contributing factor to the waning popularity of the K ration. Although designed to be used for a period of two or three days only, the ration occasionally subsisted troops for weeks on end. There were times when this application was unavoidable; there were also occasions when the K was employed because it was easiest to issue. Continued use reduced the acceptability and diminished the value of the ration.

The Mountain Ration

In the history of rations, it was nowhere better demonstrated than in small-group rations that there should be clear-cut lines of central authority for evaluation of needs before ration development was begun. This was evident during the early days of World War II when three small-group rations made an almost simultaneous debut because diversified groups sought special rations for unusual but not clearly defined military purposes. Eventually, the three were replaced by one ration with characteristics common to all. Although the consolidation was preceded by confusion, loss, and delay, the initial threefold development had the important result of entrenching the Quartermaster Corps Research and Development Laboratory as the central agency responsible for ration development. It was the Laboratory product that emerged as the ultimate World War II group ration. The original trio were the Mountain, Jungle, and 5-in-1 rations; their common successor was called “ration, 10-in-1.” 43 The activation of mountain troops in 1941 led to a demand for a ration suitable for use in cold, high-altitude climates. The Laboratory was asked to provide a ration that would not exceed 40 ounces in weight, be easy to cook at high altitudes, stress compact packaging, contain 4,800 calories and items of adequate roughage capable of slow digestion.44 The resultant specification in November 1942 proposed that the mountain ration consist of food for four men for one day. The basic components of three menus making up the ration included Carter’s spread (a butter substitute), soluble coffee, dry milk, biscuits, hard candy, cereal (three varieties), dehydrated cheese, D ration bars, fruit bars, gum, lemon-juice powder, dehydrated soup, salt, sugar, tea, cigarettes, and toilet paper. Menu 1 offered variety with luncheon meat and dehydrated baked beans; menu 2 added corned beef and dehydrated potatoes; and pork sausage meat and precooked rice were included in menu 3. The components were assembled in a solid fiber carton labeled “U. S. Army Mountain Ration.” Three cartons, one of each menu, were over-packed in a similarly labeled outer carton.45

Before the specification was available, and despite Laboratory warning that purchases should be limited pending determination of specification adequacy, procurement of more than 600,000 rations was underway. An additional one and one-quarter millions were procured early in 1943. Procurement halted completely there-after.46

Jungle Ration

Awareness that extensive fighting would take place in tropical regions brought the request for a jungle ration. Specifications were hurriedly produced without a clear-cut idea of what a ration assembled especially for jungle troops should consist and the basic pattern-food for four men for one day-followed the mountain-ration design.47 The Jungle ration included canned meat, dry milk, peanuts, biscuits, precooked cereal, gum, cigarettes, hard candy, cocoa beverage powder, soluble coffee, fruit bars, lemon powder, raisins, salt, sugar, and toilet tissue. Components were compactly assembled in a specially constructed solid fiber carton.48

The Subsistence Laboratory participated in the development only to the extent of determining packaging and packing requirements. It warned that the reasons for developing the ration had not been made clear and indicated that the tactical situation presented was one for which the K ration had been designed. Despite the warranted lack of Laboratory enthusiasm, more than 9,600,000 rations were bought in 1942 and 425,000 more early in 1943. After the latter procurement, the Jungle ration went hand-in-hand with the Mountain ration toward obsolescence.

The 5-in-1 Ration

World War historians, who had no reason to foresee that the title would re-emerge to designate the postwar group ration, classified the 5-in-1 with the jungle and mountain rations, described its “short life,” and ultimately considered that it, too, had passed into obsolescence. Of the three, the 5-in-1 was the only ration that was strictly a development of the SR&DL. As introduced early in 1942, it was intended to provide a specialized ration for motorized combat groups operating in desert areas. The goal of this development was a ration that would be convenient to issue and could be prepared by small groups of men with a minimum of cooking equipment and skill. Another objective was to furnish sufficient food to take care of five men for one day.49 The first specification for a 5-in-1 ration proposed a unit of three menus, each consisting basically of B ration components such as Army spread, vegetables, meat combinations, evaporated milk, fruit juice, fruits, dehydrated soups, cereal, and beverages as well as such common items as biscuits, hard candy, salt, sugar, and toilet paper. These items were packed as a group, with noncanned components placed in a separate carton overpacked in a larger carton with the canned products. Menus were inclosed in the carton as a guide in the selection of meals. Extensive procurement based on these requirements ended in 1943 when the 10-in-1 was introduced. Use of 5-in-1 stocks continued throughout the war, however, and the ration was still winning praise when hostilities ended. The specification remained in effect and later became the basis for the postwar revision under which the 5-in-1 nomenclature was reestablished.50

The 10-in-1 Ration.

Although the possibility of packing the B ration in units of ten was suggested early in the war, progress on such an arrangement did not begin until 1943 when the Mountain, Jungle, and 5-in-1 rations were discontinued. The success of the British “compo” or 14-in-1 ration during the North African campaign in 1942 and the movement to classify field rations into four categories added other reasons for the interest in a 10-in-1 ration. A guide to its rapid development was furnished in the following 1943 definition:

A small-group field ration [shall be] composed of components of the standard field ration type B (modified to reduce bulk and weight) packed in basic packages of five complete rations each. . . . The inner and outer packages are to be proof against water, vapor, moisture, and chemical agents. They are to be of such shape and dimensions as to be suitable for either animal-pack or man-carry, and sufficiently sturdy as to material and construction to withstand normal handling and transportation in motor vehicles, on pack animals or by man carry.51

Specification requirements were quickly published 52 and the ration was standardized as the replacement for the other group rations. Although superseding the 5-in-1, the 10-in-l was essentially two 5-in-1’s packed in one unit. Within such a combination, it was possible to offer a greater variety of components. This was effected by increasing the number of “menus” to five in comparison to the three-menu arrangement of the 5-in-1. In ensuing war years, several revisions were made to the original specification but the basic plan of five menus, each containing sufficient food for ten men for one day, remained unaltered. Within the daily plan, complete group meals were specified for breakfast and supper while a “partial dinner unit was provided for the luncheon meal.

A typical menu included such canned items as butter spread, soluble coffee, pudding, meat units, jam, evaporated milk, and vegetables as well as biscuits, cereal, beverages, candy, salt, and sugar. Accessory items were cigarettes, matches, can opener, toilet paper, soap, towels, and water-purification tablets. The partial dinner unit was inclosed 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.

The similarity of the partial unit to the K ration was a chief reason for the proposed revision of the 10-in-1 in 1945. It was planned to eliminate the unit and to assemble the entire ration on the basis of three group meals rather than two group meals and one individual luncheon package. Although it was recognized that the over-all weight of the ration would be increased thereby, it was felt that the added weight would be offset by the increased acceptability and nutritional value which a greater variety of components would provide. The end of the war prevented realization of such a plan in the 10-in-1.

Over 300 million rations, costing about 85 cents each, were procured under the 10-in-1 title from mid-1943 to the war’s close. No other group ration was procured during that period. Hence, in actuality as well as nomenclature, “Ration, 10-in-1” was the final small-group ration of World War II. 54

Assault Lunch

The need for a lightweight, small, and concentrated ration to provide assault troops with an easily carried prepared food, which would bridge the gap between the beginning of actual combat and the restoration of normal supply functions, became evident during the amphibious campaigns in the Pacific in 1944. An early improvisation of such a ration packed in the Hawaiian Islands included such commercial products as hard candy, chocolate bars, gum, cigarettes, and matches. The packet was assembled in a waterproof, flexible bag and distributed to troops just prior to the assault landings. The candy theme was followed in the subsequent development of the Assault Lunch. Progress was accelerated late in 1944 when the military characteristics for such a lunch were defined by the Army Ground Forces. An assault ration, AGF stated, should provide 1,500 to 2,000 calories; be unaffected by temperatures ranging between -60 F. and 130 F.; be packaged to protect contents from mold, moisture, rough handling, and pilferage, be easy to open and remain stable for six months. During the period preceding the specification, consideration was given to adding fruit Juices, soluble coffee, and compressed cereal but such items were not in the end included.56 As specified, the Lunch contained chocolate bars, caramels, dried fruit (prunes and raisins), chewing gum, peanuts, salt tablets, cigarettes, matches, and water-purification tablets. The components were placed compactly in a plastic-film packet with an adhesive-tape reclosable feature. Forty-five packets were packed in a 6˝-gallon metal drum for shipment and distribution.

Because the item came at the close of hostilities, its effectiveness was never fully established. In September 1947, the specification was cancelled for the cryptic reason that the item was “no longer required for quartermaster supply.” 57

Type X Ration

A “confidential” specification for Ration, Type X was issued early in 1944. 58 This ration was intended as an assault-type item to be issued to troops ‘just before or during invasion.” Components were K biscuits, chocolate or D bars, bouillon powder, soluble coffee, fruit bars, sugar, gum, hard candy, canned meat, and multi-vitamin tablets. Packaging designated a partial assembly of components in a water-vapor-resistant box. The entire ration was packed in a wax-dipped or wax-paper-wrapped carton. The theme of secrecy was carried out in the labeling requirements which stated that “there shall be no labels, printing, or identifying marks of any kind on any packaging materials for this ration nor on any component parts of the ration.” It was reported that 600,000 rations were procured in December 1943 and an additional 250,000 in December 1944. No results of tests or field experiences are contained in the records, probably because the participation of SR&DL was limited to preparing the packaging requirements for the specification. The X ration may have some claim to being a predecessor of the Assault Lunch in purpose but there the resemblance ends. This “confidential” item proved to be one of the rations of World War II which was developed for a special purpose and then disappeared.

Aircrew Lunch

The need of special rations for the Air Force originated in the important role the AAF played in the transportation, combat, and bombing phases of World War II. Although many types of rations were indicated as required by the varied activities of aircraft and air crews throughout the world, AAF and Quartermaster Corps research groups reduced those needs to four basic situations:

For pilots in single-seater or combat planes.

For bail-out (parachute) emergency purposes.

For crews and passengers in large planes equipped with heating devices for cooking.

For survivors in crash landings 60

This determination of ration requirements resulted in a series of special-ration specifications in 1943 and 1944 covering “Lunch, Aircrew” “Lunch, Combat, AAF,” and “Ration, Parachute, Emergency, respectively designed for pilots in pursuit planes, for crews on long-range missions, and for emergency parachute landings. Other rations designed for emergency flight conditions were the “Ration, Lifeboat, Airborne,” and “Ration, Liferaft.” In addition to these rations, the Air Force employed other standard Army rations during the war. The 10-in-1, C, and K rations were used, in that order, in unorganized ground functions where regular messing facilities were not available. The K ration was carried on planes for use in forced landings and ditchings; individual kits containing K rations or D bars were used in bailouts; and improvisations of C and K rations were employed by search and rescue parties.61

In the early days of the war, candies, fruits, and other snacks were carried by pilots, crewmen, and passengers as self-supplied inflight food items. In 1943, the popularity of the candies led to the development of an “American” candy supplement used by United States fliers in Great Britain. Such supplements contained gum, fruit bars, D bars, and hard candy, all packaged for easy opening. This supplement was the basis of the Air Forces Pocket Lunch (a confection-type ration procured in 1943) and a successor Aircrew Lunch which made its debut in September 1944. 62

The Aircrew Lunch contained a selection of small loose candies, candy bars, and gum packaged in a two-compartment box with sliding sleeve. In one compartment were the loose candies-chocolate drops, pancoated cream centers, fondant creams, gum drops, jelly and licorice drops, and pancoated peanuts; the opposite compartment contained a vanilla and a fudge bar and gum. Easy one-hand manipulation of the red-and-blue package permitted the items to drop out of the selected compartment. Eighty of the packages were put in a five-gallon can for shipment and distribution. The lunch retained its standing throughout the war and postwar periods. The development of the item during the Korean Emergency-when it was renamed “Food Packet, Individual, Fighter Pilot” is discussed later in this monograph.

AAF Combat Lunch

The original combat lunch to subsist air crews on long-range flight missions consisted of unprepared and dehydrated items which were to be cooked or reconstituted by crew members during flight.68 Despite the general absence of heating or cooking equipment aboard military aircraft, these types of foods were listed in the initial specification 64 and persisted throughout the war. The specification described the ration as a unit package consisting of food for three men for one meal with extra beverages.65 Components were dry milk, chili powder or tomato paste, bouillon cubes, hard candy, gum, precooked rice, salt, tea tablets, and can opener, all packaged in a waxed fiberboard box. Subsequently, the variety of components was increased by specifying two menus or combinations of components.66 The ration was to be placed aboard the plane in quantities sufficient to provide meals for all crew members. It was assumed that water would be provided for reconstituting the dehydrated components and making the beverages. Crew members were to carry out preparation procedures in the plane.

A limited procurement of the combat lunch was made in 1943 and 1944. In December 1944, the Air quartermaster, recognizing that preparation of foods in flight was too much to expect of aircrews, discontinued the ration and sought various means of using up the quantity on hand. By July 1945, the ration was recognized as obsolete and eventually the specification was cancelled.67

The following concise criticism of the AAF Combat Lunch was expressed by the Laboratory after the war:

The consensus of the crew members is that the food is not sufficiently desirable to compensate for the effort required in preparation. Such a large variety of items is not deemed necessary. The majority of crew members think that a few cans of prepared soup, a thermos jug of coffee, a few meat or cheese sandwiches, some fresh fruit (preferably oranges) and a few candy bars would be much more suitable than these flight lunches. The chewing gum, chocolate and Charms (hard candy) included in these flight lunches are the only items considered desirable……

Sandwich Packs

The review of rations used by groups in flight would not be complete without mention of the efforts to provide sandwich packs. These efforts often were negated at flight bases by lack of supplies and by inadequacies of equipment. To facilitate preparation of sandwich lunches at such bases, the Subsistence Laboratory, in May 1945 started to develop a “sandwich-beverage pack,” which was to contain the ingredients for preparing sandwiches and beverages. The cessation of the war caused the work to be abandoned just when a promising start had been made, but the effort did leave some spade work which was utilized in 1950 in the development of the inflight food packet.

Parachute Emergency Ration

The predecessor to the parachute emergency ration used in the latter part of World War II was the bailout ration procured by the Air Forces in 1942. The bailout was designed as a survival item to be contained in the parachute pack and used after emergency parachute landings. In the final procurement in 1943, it included a combination of D bars, fruit bars, hard candy, lemon-juice powder, and K biscuits. After 1943, the bailout was abandoned in favor of the “ration, parachute, emergency,” a pack designed to fit the pocket of the Air Force emergency vest. The components for the new parachute pack included sweet chocolate, hard candy, dehydrated cheese and crackers, bouillon cubes, sugar, cigarettes, water-purification tablets, soluble coffee, chewing gum, and a small cellophane bag to contain the uneaten food after the can had been opened. The ration weighed 11˝ ounces and contained about 1,062 calories.69 The parachute ration went through the war without major change and remained in official standing until February of 1952 when the specification was cancelled.70

Airborne Lifeboat Ration

An airborne lifeboat ration was developed in 1944 to meet an Air Force requirement for a ration suitable for stowing in lifeboats dropped from aircraft to survivors of airplane ditchings or parachute drops over water. Initial requirements of the ration were governed by the storage space allotted for the purpose within the lifeboat. As standardized, the packaged ration contained food for two men for one meal, each package including a breakfast and supper unit. Two menus or component groupings lent variety to the units. The breakfast menu included a B unit from the C ration, a canned meat-food combination (four types were specified), condensed soup, matches, and toilet paper. In the supper menu, the B units and meat items were augmented with liferaft rations. Each menu was packaged in a fiberboard container and stowed in the lifeboat at the boat manufacturer’s plant.71 The ration was unchanged in composition during the period it was in production. Procurement was halted in 1944 and development discontinued. The specification was cancelled in 1949.

Liferaft Ration

The request of a commercial airline for a ration to be used on liferafts has been cited by a World War II historian as the origin of the Liferaft ration.72 Although the quartermaster Corps produced a four-pound ration comprised of nine items suitable to the purpose in view, the ration was not adapted to Army use because of its bulk. A highly concentrated ration, weighing less than one pound and occupying a space not greater than 6 by 2 by 4 inches, was suggested as a substitute for the commercial prototype. To meet these physical requirements and on the supposition that food of high carbohydrate content was most satisfactory for sustaining life when water intake was restricted, the quartermaster Corps developed the confection Ration, Liferaft. The confections selected were fruit-flavored hard-candy tablets. Ten packages of these candies were contained in a key-opening, rectangular metal can approximately 4 by 3 by 3 inches in size. Chewing gum and six B-complex vitamin tablets were included to utilize all the can’s space.73 Directions for use printed on the can declared that “one to two packages of candy and one vitamin pill should be eaten each day by each man-chewing the gum will help keep your mouth clean.” Additional instructions appeared on a printed sheet placed in the can. They assured the user that the contents were “the best solid food for eating while living on a liferaft,” directed him to eat two packages of candy and one vitamin pill each day, informed him how long the ration would last and how to open the bag for unused components, and instructed him not to open a second can until the contents of the first were used. They also told him to conserve the ration if he was successful in catching fish.74

A “lifeboat and liferaft ration” was procured as early as 1942 for use by the Coast Guard and the merchant marines. Components included C biscuits, pemmican, chocolate tablets, and milk tablets. Packaging was in airtight containers. Components were purchased by the Chicago quartermaster Depot for shipment to depots or ports where the complete ration was assembled under the supervision of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation.75

Kitchen Spice Pack

Three packaged assemblies of kitchen and hospital food items were designed in World War II as supplementary subsistence items. A Kitchen Spice Pack, containing an assortment of spices, flavorings, condiments, and miscellaneous food items, was unit-packaged to provide more appetizing B rations at mess centers. The Hospital and Aid-Station supplements provided suitable nourishment for patients in field medical installations and hospitals. The need for the supplements was indicated early in the war when existing subsistence items were adapted to fill the needs for which the supplements were later designed. Development, however, followed a slow course and formal requirements were not definitely established until late in the war.76

The failure of the bulk-issue plan to supply field kitchens with the right spices at the right time led to development of a special “condiment pack.” The requirements for such a kitchen spice pack, based on the components of the Field Menu, were submitted by the Subsistence Laboratory early in 1944. The pack was to supply a condiment unit of spices and flavorings sufficient for 1,000 rations (100 men for 10 days). Since the components were predetermined, laboratory interest was chiefly directed toward packaging and packing requirements. Procurement furnished the experience for further improvement in the selection of components for readjusting the quantities and proportions employed, and for improving the component containers.78 The supplement gained procurement momentum in 1945 and was well received. Attention to continued development halted when the buying program was suspended.

Although the specification had been approved, the supplement was in an unclassified status at the war’s end. The spice pack was officially baptized as “Ration Supplement, Spice Pack, Kitchen,” in the 1948 change to Army Regulation 30-2210.

Hospital Supplement

The hospital supplement was developed to provide easily digestible foods such as beverages, soups, and fruits to patients being treated at evacuation and base hospitals. Early in the war, a hospital ration was packed at the Cumberland quartermaster Depot to supply items for that purpose. Because of faulty packing of the items, the Subsistence Laboratory developed a better package in 1943 which contained the following items:

1 No.10 can of fruit

2 46-ounce cans of orange juice

20 14˝-ounce cans of evaporated milk

1 2-lb. tin of coffee

1 5-lb. package of dehydrated soup

1 5-lb. bag of sugar79

Procurement on the original requirements exceeded 87,000 cases in 1943 and 1944.

A 1944 revision 80 recognized the pack as a “supplement” and made extensive additions and changes in the basic components. The new version substituted soluble coffee for the roasted and ground variety, powdered milk for evaporated milk, and condensed soups for dehydrated soups. Other components were premixed cereal, cocoa beverage powder, malted milk tablets, tea, and tomato juice. Added accessory items included toilet paper, plastic sippers, and paper towels. The complete supplement was packed in suitable wood boxes for shipment. Requirements for 175,000 cases of the “new” ration were filled before the war ended.

Aid-station Beverage Pack

The aid-station beverage-pack supplement was designed for application at forward-area aid-stations as supportive subsistence for battle casualties and exhaustion cases. Interest of the Laboratory in the initial development concerned the assembly and packaging of components designated by The Surgeon General. Components included coffee, tea, cocoa beverage powder, evaporated milk, and sugar. Accessory items included plastic sippers, a can opener, and toilet paper. As ultimately developed, the supplement provided ingredients for the preparation of 290 twelve-ounce drinks.81

A forerunner of the supplement was the B-C (Battle-Casualty or Bouillon-Cigarette ration) kit containing cigarettes, bouillon cubes, and matches. The packaging of the B~C was assigned to the Laboratory in 1944. Field experience revealed that the kit was inadequate as far as providing desired hot drinks and it was recommended that a new pack, containing coffee, cocoa, sugar, bouillon, and paper cups, form the basis for a new specification.82 Approximately 9,000 cases of the aid-station pack were procured before the end of 1945.

The ration was standardized for issue to ground battalion aid stations in 1944 and ever since then has maintained a “standard item” classification. Postwar interest in the ration was casual although it must be noted that a Marine Corps research report, completed just as the war ended, indicated that the aid station had potential peacetime use. The report agreed that the pack did “not represent an essential item during peacetime,” but suggested applications in maneuvers, by airplane crews and rescue craft, and for parachute supply to isolated units.83

Red Cross Food Package

The prisoner-of-war packet, known as the Food Package, Red Cross, was generally regarded as a Quartermaster Corps “service” rather than “development.” The packet was produced in 1945 when the American Red Cross asked the Quartermaster Corps for a suitable food package for prisoners-of-war in the Far East. The specification, produced in cooperation with the relief organization, listed the following food items: Army spread, canned bacon, luncheon meat, salmon, dehydrated corned beef, canned cheese product, soluble coffee, powdered whole milk, and chocolate D bars. Toilet paper, soap, paper towels, and can openers were provided as accessory items. A sundry unit in one large can included buttons, needles, thread, and patching cloth. Vitamin capsules, salt, and tobacco were also packed in the sundry can.84 Packaging directions provided that the individual package weigh not more than twelve pounds, that the shipping case containing the individual packages not exceed 50 pounds, and that the over-all packaging requirements stress “good keeping quality under adverse conditions of storage.” 85

Production and distribution did not reach extensive levels in the short five-month period between the adoption of the specification and the end of the war.86 Cancellation of the specification was included in the general house-cleaning of obsolete rations in 1949.


It has been shown that little attempt was made from the Revolution to the advent of World War I to provide the American soldier with special rations for use under specific military conditions. During that near century-and-a-half period, military subsistence, as prescribed by the Congress, was a one-purpose “garrison” ration consisting chiefly of meat and bread and occasional vegetables. This ration was intended to feed the soldier not only in garrison, but on the march, in the field, in combat, and under conditions threatening individual survival. As contributory to this “oneness” of military feeding, it should be remarked that in’ the same period the methods of warfare and the manner and means of food production and distribution were also little changed. Some need for special-purpose rations was recognized on the frontiers, as evidenced by the introduction of pemmican, jerked beef, desiccated vegetables and other similar items providing emergency sustenance to troops separated from sources of regular supply. These items were the forerunners to the packaged, special-purpose, operational rations essential to the modern military feeding program.

Except for isolated instances on the frontiers and elsewhere, little attention was paid to the development of special rations until after the turn of the century. In 1901, after the Spanish-American War, it was officially recognized that the garrison-type ration was not all-inclusive in purpose. In that year, five separate conditions under which a “different” ration or food list was to be issued to troops were designated, i.e., in garrison, in the field, traveling overland, embarked on vessels, and under emergency conditions of survival. While this concept recognized the inadequacy of one type of ration for every purpose, the menus that were legislated for use under the five categories were little more than substitutive adaptations of the garrison ration.

Packaged rations for special purposes were introduced in the first World War. Then, the “reserve” and “emergency” rations were developed for individual use and a “trench ration” was issued for groups fighting in trenches. Little further progress was made in ration development between the wars although some groundwork was laid when the Quartermaster Subsistence School was established in 1920 and, within its curriculum, undertook research toward improving existent rations. This work was continued by the Quartermaster Subsistence Research and Development Laboratory after its activation at the Chicago Quartermaster Depot in 1936 under the direction of the Research and Development Branch of the Office of The Quartermaster General. The establishment of the Laboratory, since named the Quartermaster Food and Container Institute for the Armed Forces, heralded the commencement of the emergency period prior to World War II and marked the actual beginning of modern ration research and development. Since that date, the Institute has been assigned the task of developing special rations for the Armed Forces.

The Combat ration (later called the C ration) and the emergency D bar were developmental enterprises of the Laboratory during the 1936-41 period. An important end product in that period was the establishment of a definition of a “ration” and a subsequent classification dividing all “field” rations into four groups: Field Rations A, B, C, and D. Field Ration A, a counterpart to the garrison ration, provided fresh food for central messing purposes in nongarrison areas. Field Ration B was similar to the A ration except that canned items replaced the fresh foods. Field Ration C was defined as a complete food-for-a-day packaged ration to be carried and utilized by the individual soldier. An emergency bar to sustain life when other sources of food supply failed was Field Ration D.

This four-fold concept of field rations, particularly as applied to the packaged C and D, underwent considerable revision as a result of feeding requirements imposed by World War II. The progress of air transportation and the growth and use of mechanized equipment made for rapidly changing fronts in the many and diversified types of terrain and climate attendant on global conflict. These factors provided abundant reasons for the special packaged rations which were needed to accompany the soldier moving faster and further than his regular source of food supply. Ultimately, such “rations” were defined under three categories: rations, food packets, and ration supplements. These general categories were further broken down in line with varying individual and group utilization, survival-feeding conditions, and special requirements of other services, particularly the Air Force.

The combat or C ration emerged as the preeminent individual ration of World War II, completely superseding a K ration which also had been introduced and extensively procured for combat purposes. A series of early-war group rations was eventually combined into one ration called the 10-in-1. Throughout the war the D bar was procured in volume as the emergency ration. Survival-type rations included airborne lifeboat and liferaft rations. The Aircrew Lunch, the AAF Combat Lunch, and the Bail-Out and Parachute Emergency rations were created primarily for the Air Force. Supplements to the feeding program included a spice kit for use by organized kitchens and two beverage-type packs designed to provide nourishing foods to wounded evacuees at aid stations and field hospitals. An assault lunch was a late-war development to provide the soldier with quick-energy snacks and morale accessories prior to anticipated combat.

The procurement of a billion special rations in World War II was a reflection of the need, the development, and the use of packaged operational rations between 1941 and 1945. The key organization in the development was the Quartermaster Food and Container Institute. It earned the recognition given by its designated assignment-to provide the research and development and to prepare the specifications for foods, rations, and food containers required by the Armed Forces. Within that assignment, the cardinal principles governing special Army rations were established, i.e., that they be nutritionally adequate, remain stable under conditions of storage and use, be geared to the productive ability of industry, and, above all, be acceptable for consumption by the eventual user-the combat soldier.

End Notes

1    Raphael P. Thian, Legislative History of the General Staff of the Army of the United States (GPO, 1901), p 241.

2    Thian (pp 285-310) noted that in 1778, one gill of whiskey or spirits was included in the ration fixed by General Washington. In 1789, this issue was apparently too good to be true, at least for the “GI,” for, because of “irregularities” in issue, individual status determined who was to get whiskey and how much. Allowances ranged from a half-gallon a week for a colonel to a pint-and-a-half for a subaltern; for the ordinary soldier, the issue of rum was limited to rainy weather and fatigue duty and then at the rate of only a gill per man.

3    Herbert R. Rifkind, Fresh Foods for the Armed Forces-The Quartermaster Market Center System, 1941-1948 (QMC Historical Studies No.20, Washington, D. C., 1951), pp 1-2.  In tracing the decrease in the ration after the Revolution, Rifkind cited John W. Barriger, Legislative History of the Subsistence Department of the United States Army (2d ed,Washington, D. C., 1877) and Elliott Cassidy, The Development of Meat, Dairy, Poultry and Fish Products for the Army (QMC Historical Studies No. 7, Washington, D. C., 1944), and others as sources of information.

4    As noted by Thian (p 330) the Act of May 30, 1796, provided “that every noncommissioned officer, private, and musician shall receive the following rations of provisions, to wit: One pound of beef or three-quarters of a pound of pork, one pound of bread or flour, half a gill of rum, brandy, or whiskey; and . . . one quart of salt, two quarts of vinegar, two pounds of soap, and one pound of candles to every hundred rations.”

5    (1) Barriger, Leg Hist, pp 90-91. (2) For a more extended discussion of the introduction and early use of coffee in the Army ration, see Franz A. Koehler, Coffee for the Armed Forces: Military Development and Conversion to Industry Supply (QMC Historical Studies, Series II, No. 5, Washington, D. C., 1958), pp 1-11.

6    Thian, Leg Hist, pp 344-345.

7    Act of July 5, 1862, qtd by Thian in Leg Hist, p 345.

8   Ibid, p. 346. 

9    Barriger, Leg Hist, pp 102-103.

10    Martin S. Peterson, “Rations of Indian Wars,” Activities Report (QMF&CI, Oct 1951). Information for the rations of the Indian Wars is from Peterson’s account.

11    Col W. C. Brown, The Army Ration-Old and New (reprint, WD pam, Jeffersonville QM Dep, Dec 15, 1921).

12    Samuel C. Prescott, Troop Feeding Programs: A Survey of Rationing and Subsistence in the United States Army, 1775 to 1940, cited by Rifkind, Fresh Foods for the Armed Forces, pp 4-5.

13    GO No.56, AGO, Mar 26, 1901, cited by Thian, Leg Hist, pp 687-688.

14    GO No.56, AGO, Mar 26, 1901, annotated by Thian, Leg Hist, pp 687-689. Thian noted the kinds and quantities of components for the five categories in complete detail.

15    Art 75, Subs Dept, USA Reg, qtd by Prescott, Troop Feeding Programs, 1944, p 63 (IV).

16    Ensuing data of World War I rations is from Walter Porges, “The Subsistence Research Laboratory-Ration Research, 1920-43,” CQMD Hist Study No. 1 (CQMD, May 1943); and Harold W. Thatcher, The Development of Special Rations for the Army (QMC Hist Study No.6, Washington, D. C., 1944).

17   After the war, it was proposed to issue the ration in half-portions within one container, thus providing a separate morning and evening meal. It was also planned to include a “chocolate-shredded wheat bar” for a portion of the hard bread and to introduce soluble coffee. Hope, too, was expressed that the future makeup of the ration would eliminate the condiment can and that the meat component would he other than corned beef (Brown, The Army Ration).

18    Capt W. J. Allen, “History of the General Supply Depot, Chicago, 1919,” pp 37-38, reported that 40,000 containers (resembling a washboiler in appearance), representing one million rations, were assembled and packed at the Chicago Depot between June 8 and July 15, 1918. By the end of August of the same year orders for 8 million rations, costing approximately 6 million dollars, had been received. Maj. Herbert J. Barr, QMC (ret), then and still in 1953 connected with the procurement division of the Depot, told the writer that candy, cigarettes, and tobacco were provided by a Chicago-wide public subscription and included in the containers as fill-in items.

19    Allen, “Hist of Gen Sup Dep,” pp 40-41.

20 The QM Subsistence School had been activated at the Chicago QM Depot in1920 to instruct Army officers in subsistence technology and supply, to write Army subsistence textbooks, and to assist in preparing food specifications. Some opportunity was also offered for subsistence research. 

21   USA Spec 22-131, Oct 25, 1922.

22   An unpubl memo, Comdt, ARWC, Jan 31, 1930, qtd by Porges, Subs Lab, p 41.

23   The QM Subsistence Research and Development Laboratory came into being at the Chicago QM Depot July 24, 1936. The Subsistence School had been transferred to Philadelphia in June of the same year. The initial research efforts of the Laboratory, carried out on the meagerest of funds, expanded at the advent of World War II into a full-scale food research and development program for the entire Department of Defense. In 1946, the laboratory was renamed the Quartermaster Food and Container Institute for the Armed Forces. Hereafter, it will be referred to by initials SR&DL, QMF&CI, or by the more general words, “Laboratory” or “Institute.”

24   Thatcher, Dev of Sp Rat, p 2. Thatcher stated: “In 1942, The Quartermaster General concurred with the suggestion of the Chicago QM Depot that several thousand of these rations, which had been packed in 1936 and which still remained in edible condition in storage at Chicago, should be shipped to the nearest concentration camp for issue.” In a footnote, he explained the status of the rations as follows: “A report on the condition of these rations indicated that all items of both A and B rations, except the pork and beans of A, were still usable.”

25    “The controversy as to the nomenclature and purpose of the ration which ensued in 1939 between The Quartermaster General and The Adjutant General is discussed in detail in Thatcher, Special Rations, pp 6-8. The revision of AR 30-2210 was announced in WD Cir 88, 7 Nov 1939. The regulation, published 15 March 1940, established the basic pattern for rations which endured throughout the war. In lieu of the terms reserve,” emergency,” etc., four types of field rations were created: Field Ration A-the field counterpart of the garrison ration; Field Ration B-corresponding to the A type except that nonperishable processed or canned products replaced the perishable items of the A ration; Field Ration C-a ration consisting of six cans of prepared food, three containing a meat-and-vegetable combination and three containing crackers, sugar, and soluble coffee; and Field Ration D-the 4-ounce bar of concentrated chocolate.

26    Although the accumulation of research and experience has since produced amplifications of this definition, the original concept stated by The Quartermaster General in 1940 covered the major characteristics of the C ration. In a letter to Maj. W. R. McReynolds, June 10, 1940 (Thatcher, Dev of Sp Rat, p 16), Quartermaster General E. B. Gregory stated:

There are certain fundamental principles that must be met by a ration of this type:

a. It should contain not less than 4,000 calories and preferably contain 4,500 as it has been found that this much food is required for the average soldier under field conditions.

b. It must be divisible into at least two, and preferably three meals.

c. It must be as light as possible and still contain the necessary food value and bulk.

d. It must be suitable for use over a period of three or four days or longer, and therefore, must be as palatable as possible, well balanced and not highly seasoned.

e. It must be suitable for production in large numbers and at a reasonable cost. This statement of objectives provides the guiding clue in the development of the C ration. The ration went through many changes since its formal inception as Field Ration C but basically its progression continued to be guided by the original concept of a full and satisfying ration for one man for one day and one that he could carry on his person.

27    Thatcher, Dev of Sp Rat, p 13, recorded that such a meal, “consisting of a pound of stew composed of no less than twelve vegetables and nine meats,” was submitted to the Subsistence School for evaluation. The excessive number of ingredients, plus limited research facilities brought an end to this early inspiration.

28    “Chronology of C Rat,” mt Rept, SR&DL, Sep 1945, p 21.

29    Lt Gen J L. DeWitt to TAG, Jun 17, 1940, qtd by Porges, Subs Lab, footnote 61, p 19.

30    Capt V. 0. Wodicka, “Food Requirements for Overseas Use,” Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (Jan 1943), qtd by Porges, Subs Lab, p 60.

31   Rept of Com on Rat, Army Food Conf, ARWC, Washington, D. C., Apr.1946.

32    Ltr, TQMG to SR&DL, 3 Dec 1945, sub: Cancellations. The specification was not officially cancelled. however, until after 1946. In that year, Col. Charles Lawrence, CO, QMF&CI, wrote that although the bar had been declared “nonstandard” by the QMC Tech Com “the Specification still holds or is still in force although the ration to which it pertains is not being used.”

33    Ltr, TQMG to SR&DL, 10 Apr 1945, sub: Possible Use for Excess Type D Rat.

34    Ltr, Capt L. A. Wright, SR&DL, to M. L. Blumenthal and others, 15 Apr 1945.

35    Ltr, Col R. A. Isker, SR&DL to TQMG, 2 May 1945, sub: Possible Use for Excess Type D Rat.

36    QMC Tent Spec CQD 183, 28 Jun 1944.

37   QMC Tent Spec “Rat, Type C,” CQD 183B, 12 Apr 1945 and Amend thereto, 23 Jul 1945. The “Combat” nomenclature was not added to the specification title until after the war (CQD 183C, “Rat, Cmbt, Type C-2,” 22 May 1947). A “new” ration, “Ration, Type E, Complete (Combat),” (CQD 398), in which canned bread was substituted for biscuits or crackers, was proposed and a specification was published on 27 August 1946. It is discussed in a subsequent chapter.

38   Capt Hewitt A. Conway and Alice I. Meyer, eds, “Ration Development,” QMF&CI Operation Studies No.1 (1946), p 37, declared that spoons and granular salt were not procured. Procurement ended just as directives were issued to change the accessory pack.

39   The selection of the letter K was of no significance other than a phonetic differentiation from C and D. Col. Logan speaking before the Army Food Conference. ARWC, 1 April 1946. described its christening:  K Ration started out entirely for paratroopers. We established a change when we received a letter one day from Patton asking, “please take the name paratrooper off that ration, as I want to use it for my tanks.” So we gave it an alphabetical designation and called it the K ration, –

40   QMC Tent Spec CQD 28, “U. S. Army Fld Rat K, Assy and Pkgng,” Dec 1941; CQD 28H, “Assy, Pkgng, and Pkgng, Rat, Type K, Complete,” 31 Aug 1945.

41   CQD 28G, 31 Oct 1944. The “final” specification, CQD 28H, 31 August 1945, was published just at the war’s close and no procurements were made under it. The specification was very similar to the immediate predecessor described above. 

42   Excrpt, Min of QMC Tech Com Mtg No.9, 26 May 1948.

43   Although he could not foresee the ultimate changes which took place in the title nomenclature, Thatcher, Dev of Sp Rat. pp 88-90, drew the following conclusion concerning the development and short life of the Jungle, Mountain, and 5-in-1 rations:

[The rations] illustrate in pointed style the dynamics of research and development in the field of special rations-the importance of trial-and-error procedure, and constant search for something better, and the willingness to discard the old for the new when the latter seemed to offer reasonable prospect of improvement. … Each had been developed to meet a special need. All had shown promise, and at least two, the Mountain and 5-in-l rations, had proved relatively satisfactory for the purpose for which each was intended. When it appeared, however, that the same purposes for which these rations were created could be served satisfactorily by a single ration, and problems of procurement and distribution thereby greatly simplified, all three were promptly dropped into the land of limbo. Free reign was given to the inexorable law of change-and presumably of progress.

44    Oper Study, “Rat Dev,” p 76. A detailed account of the preliminary formulations and the ultimate product is contained in this account as well as in Thatcher, Dev of Sp Rats pp 64-72.45    Info from cy of QMC Tent Spec, unnumbered and not dtd, “USA Mountain Rat,” Spec Ofe file, QMF&CI. This copy is purported to be a duplicate of the draft forwarded to TQMG on 20 November 1942 Evidence indicates the date of the draft as 26 October 1942.

46   Although the Mountain Ration was a dead issue from this date on, it was not until 1948 that it was officially declared obsolete (Mm, QMC Tech Com Mtg No. 3, 1948).

47   QMF&CI Oper Study, “Rat Dev.” p 78.

48   QMC Tent Spec “USA Jungle Rat,” 26 Oct 1942.

49    (1) Erna Risch, The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services (U. S. Army in World War II, The Technical Services, Washington, D. C., 1953), Vol I, pp 177-192. (2) Rept 125-42, 10 Oct 1942, cited in QMF&CI Oper Study, “Rat Dev,” p 81.

50    QMC Tent Spec CQD 126A, “Rat, 5-in-1,” 27 Aug 1946. The postwar history of the 5-in-1 is discussed in a subsequent chapter.

51    Col. G. F. Doriot to Hq, ASF, 9 Jun 1943, cited by Thatcher, Dev of Sp Rat, p 110.

52    QMC Tent Spec CQD 140, “Rat, 10-in-1,” 10 Aug 1943.

53    Spec CQD 140B, 1 Aug 1944 and Amend-3, thereto, 13 Mar 1945 listed the final requirements for the 10-in-1 ration.

54    As a result of the return to the 5-in-1 pack recommended by the Army Food Conference in April 1946 and consummated thereafter in the development of “Ration, Small-Detachment, 5-in-1,” the specification for “Ration, 10-in-1” (CQD 140B) was cancelled in May 1948 (1st Ind, TQMG to R&D Labs (Phila), 6 May 1948, sub: Cancellation of Subs Specs). That action officially marked the end of the10-in-1 although it has been noted that no procurement was made after 1945. In regard to an apparent conflict between the specification titles 5-in-1 and 10-in-1, both of which were recognized and in effect after the war, it might be well to remind the reader that for all practicable purposes, the 10-in-1 was two 5-in-1’s in one container; and subsequently, the 5-in-1 became one-half of a 10-in-1.

55    Ltr, AGF to ASM, 1 Nov 1944, sub: Aslt Candy Rat, cited in QMF&CI Oper Study “Rat Dev,” p 50.

56    QMC Tent Spec CQD 386, “Lunch, Aslt,” 24 Sep 1945.

57    Rept, Spec Sec, R&D, Mil Plan Div, OQMG, 4 Sep 1947.

58    QMC Tent Spec CQD 171, “Rat, Type X,” 2 Feb 1944. Eight copies were

published and distributed to the interested research and procurement officers. Limited procurement and the lack of records concerning application of the X-Ration give some indication that the imposed secrecy was unwarranted in view of the ultimate lack of success for the item.

59    Ltr, Spec Ofc (QMF&CI) to Spec Qual Con Br (PQD), 2 Feb 1950, sub: Hist of CQD 171, “Rat, Type X.”

60    Summary of Conf, AAF and QMC, Wright Field, 13-15 Oct 1942, reviewed by Thatcher, Dev of Sp Rat, p 99.

61    Memo, Capt R. Buchsbaum to Dir, ADTIC, 10 Jun 1944, sub: Emerg Rat for the Air Forces with Sp Ref to Pemmican.

62   QMC Tent Spec CQD 319, “Lunch, Air Crew,” 15 Sep 1944.

63   An early menu included beverage powder, soluble coffee, dehydrated eggs, dehydrated beef, butter spread, biscuits, fruit bars, and sugar.

64   QMC Tent Spec CQD 156, “Lunch, Cmbt, Army Air Force,” 4 Oct 1943.

65   It will be noted that the Air Crew lunch was in actually a ration designed for an individual pilot in a single-seater aircraft. The combat lunch herein described was provided for air crew groups. This confusing nomenclature existed throughout the war and was not truly clarified until 1950; then, under the new pattern of ration nomenclature established by AR 30-2210, the Air Crew Lunch became Food Packet, Individual. Fighter Pilot; the “Combat” Lunch became Food Packet, Individual, Inflight (so named because it was packed in units for individual use).

66   QMC Tent Spec, CQD 156A, “Lunch, Cmbt, AAF,” 24 Mar 1944.

67   Memo, Spec Ofc, QMF&CI, 2 Jul 1945, included the ration under a heading of obsolete rations. Rept, Spec and Qual Con Ofc, OQMG, 1 July 1948, listed CQD 146A under “Specifications Cancelled in June 1948” as “no longer required.” A new type of inflight lunch, which eliminated meal preparation, was developed in the postwar era and procured in volume then and during the Korean Emergency. It came to be called “Food Packet, Individual, In-Flight.”

68   Oper Study, “Rat Dev,” p 103.

69   QMC Tent Spec CQD 302, “Rat, Prcht, Emerg, Vest-Pocket Type,” 17 Jul 1944. A subsequent amendment changed the title to “ration, parachute, emergency.” The “vest-pocket” nomenclature was used because of concurrent consideration of a proposed “seat-type” parachute kit. This development was subsequently discontinued although a few seat-type rations, evidently for test use, were reported to have been procured (ltr, Lt W. M. Fosdick, SR&DL, to Hq, Ferrying Div, ATC, 30 May 1944).

70   TQMG (ltr to QMC Tech Com, 2 Jan 1948, sub: Fid Rat) recommended that the ration be retained as “standard.” The ration, however, was reclassified as “obsolete” by the QMC Technical Committee (Mtg No. 3, 1948) although it was apparent that the reclassification did not immediately result in cancellation of the specification. The tentative specification was converted to the military series as JAN-R-l024, “Ration. Parachute. Emergency” in March 1949.

71  QMC Tent Spec CQD 320, “Rat, Lifeboat, Abn,” 27 Sep 1944.

72   Thatcher, Dev of Sp Rat, p 102. The components of the ration were dehydrated beans, dehydrated ground beet, butter spread, cheese spread, soluble coffee, cereal briquettes, K biscuits, flight “bars,” and dried apricots.

73  QMC Tent Spec CQD 164, “Rat, Liferaft,” 4 Dec 1943. Subsequent specification revisions added ascorbic acid to the candy, eliminated the vitamin tablets, and included a plastic bag to hold unused components after the can had been opened. A size 5/2 by 3 by l 5/16 inch can, to conform in size to the pocket provided in parachute equipment, was specified in the ultimate specification (CQD 164B, 11 Sep 1945). The September 1945 changes were of importance only as far as the specification was concerned as ration procurement was by then suspended.

74 QMF&CI Oper Study, “Rat Dev,” p 64.

75 This ration should not be confused with Food Packet, Survival, Lifeboat proposed in 1948 and its subsequent successor, Ration, Lifeboat (Mil Spec MIL-R2406, 24 Aug 1950) developed during the Korean Emergency (see chapter VIII dealing with abandon-ship rations).

76 The war-designed supplements retained status in the postwar era and were ready to play their part in the reactivated ration development and procurement program of the Korean campaign.

77   This plan, based on Expeditionary Force Menus, proposed to supply spices, flavorings, and other general cooking items to field mess centers on the basis of one issue for a ten-day period.

78   Requirements were eventually standardized in QMC Tent Spec CQD 354, 26 Feb 1945. The components specified included: baking powder, baking soda, bouillon cubes, celery salt, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, cornstarch, garlic salt, gravy and table-sauce base, lemon powder, maple-flavoring tablets, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, pepper, sage, vanilla, and dry yeast. The individually packaged components were assembled in a fiberboard box which in turn was inserted in a three-ply kraft asphalt-laminated bag to protect the contents from moisture. The unit was packed in a wood box for shipment.

79   QMC Tent Spec CQD 148, “Rat, Hosp, Sp,” 9 Sep 1943.

80 QMC Tent Spec CQD 148A, “Rat, Suplmt, Hosp,” 9 Nov 1944.

81 QMC Tent Spec CQD 347, “Beverage Pk, Aid Sta,” 5 Jan 1945.

82  Ibid.

83   “Rept on the Army Beverage Pk, Aid Sta,” M&S Re’s Proj No. X-624, Med Fld Res Lab (Camp LeJeune, N. C.), 10 Aug 1945.

84  QMC Tent Spec CQD 363, “Food Pkg, Red Cross,” 26 Mar 1945.

85  Ltrs, TQMG to SR&DL, sub: Dev of Red Cross Food Pkg, 29 and 30 Dec 1944. It was further indicated that the Army was to pay for its “proportionate share of these packages with the remainder to be paid by other interested nations,” and that the first procurement would he “approximately 200,000 packages.”

86   Procurement records indicate a total of 300,000 packages purchased in 1945.

Return to General History Page