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Rations

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Ration Packs

Our experiences on finding Rations

Ration packs from the 1980's are quite rare to scarce, especially unopened ones with the sweets intact. The group received a gift of two 1979 dated ration packs with intact sweets and due to our inexperience we displayed them as part of the kit display in all weathers.  Finally a mouse got into the shed and then managed to find its way into the draws they were stored in and it decided to eat the biscuits, Funny enough it started on the Biscuit AB then gave up, I wonder why. 

Loosing a good part of the ration pack white goods and biscuits was a blow. The sweets had long since melted and we have tried to rescue the labels and have managed it, only just. We recently acquired a quantity of ration packs that were 1987 and 1991 dated all sealed and our hopes were high but unfortunately these had been not stored in a cool place and the sweets had started to melt.  The Rolo's in particular had meted and leaked staining all the white packs and started to bleed through the boxes. The Dextrose tablets and especially the boiled sweets also suffered greatly causing some more damage.

We strongly recommend that when a sealed ration packs found which the sweets are undamaged that you either replace the sweets with replicas or that you check on a regular basis that the sweets are not deteriorating.  If possible take scans of the labels for future reproduction.

You will see some Brown staining on the white packets within the pictures. These are caused by either the Beef stock, Orange/Lemon Powder or the Chocolate drink powder leaking. This is become more and more common and it is quite rare to find a ration pack where this has not occurred. 

Blown tins are a result of the ration pack not being stored correctly, and given the age of the tins and the contents, it is not surprising that some tins do expand as the contents ferment and burst or also known as, blow.  Tins that are showing signs of leaking are best replaced, but if that is not possible to replace the damaged tins, another method is to open the bottom of the tins and then to dispose of the contents before washing the tins and if possible push the lids back into shape.

24 Hour Ration Pack

From the mid 1970's the basic ration pack was the '24 hour Ration pack general Service'. This contained enough calories to sustain a man in the field for one day and was available in four different menus. Each man would be issued one or two of these depending on the operational need and would be carried in his kidney pouches and backpacks.

The contents of the ration pack varied  depending what menu you had been issued with. In theory each man was supposed to be issued a different menu for each day but in reality they generally got issued one menu for the duration of the exercise. The most favored and sought after menu was 'Menu A - Chicken Curry'.

Each ration pack contained a breakfast and a tinned main meal along with snacks and  ingredients to make a warm drink. The breakfast and main meal stayed largely unchanged through out the 1980's. The sweets that were included were Chocolate covered caramels, Chocolate bars , Boiled sweets, and Dextrose tablets.  Which were really Rolo's, Cadburys Chocolate bars, and Spangles with the Dextrose tablets being either Lemon or orange flavored energy sweets.  As time went by and some of the sweets were replaced by similar products such as Mars bars, Yorkee bars, and Foxes Boiled sweets. 

In the mid 1990's, the contents of the ration packs underwent a radical re-design. Out went the old tins of food, and in its place were the new foil packed boil in the back menu's. Thus Boil in the bag rations were introduced.

24 Hour RAT GS, Menu A - (1979)

Contents

24 - HOUR RATIONS GS (1979) Menu A

24 Hour Ration Box - Menu sheet Sugar
Biscuits Plain Spangles
Biscuits Fruit  Dextrose Tablets
Ham Spread Chocolate covered Caramels - "ROLO's"
Chicken Curry Chocolate
Bacon Grill Salt
Rice Stock Cube
Soup Chewing Gum
Apple Flakes Can-opener
Oatmeal Block Matches
Coffee Toilet Paper - 1 Ply
Tea Bags Skimmed Milk Powder

24 HOUR RATION PACK G.S., Menu A (1987)


 Menu 'A' 

Sample Menu sheet:

MENU SHEET 24 - HOUR RATIONS GS 1984

MENU "A"

MENU "B"

BREAKFAST BREAKFAST
Porridge  Porridge
Bacon Grill  Bacon Burger
Biscuits Brown  Biscuits Brown
Chocolate Drink  Chocolate Drink
SNACK SNACK
Biscuits Brown  Biscuits Brown
Ham Spread  Beef Spread
Chocolate Full Cream Chocolate Full Cream
Spangles  Boiled Sweets
Chocolate Covered Caramel  Chocolate Covered Caramel
Dextrose Tablets (Lemon) Dextrose Tablets (Orange)
MAIN MENU MAIN MENU
Biscuit Fruit Filled Biscuit Fruit Filled
Instant Soup Instant soup
Chicken Curry Steak & kidney Pudding
Pre-cooked Rice Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce
Apple Flakes Apple & Apricot Flakes
MENU "C" MENU "D"
BREAKFAST BREAKFAST
 Porridge  Porridge
 Bacon Grill  Bacon Burger
 Biscuits Brown  Biscuits Brown
Chocolate Drink  Chocolate Drink
 SNACK SNACK
 Biscuits Brown  Biscuits Brown
Chicken Spread Chicken & Bacon Spread
Chocolate Full Cream Chocolate Full Cream
Confectionery Bar  Spangles
Chocolate Covered Caramel Chocolate Covered Caramel
Dextrose Tablets (Lemon) Dextrose Tablets (Orange)
MAIN MENU MAIN MENU
Biscuit Fruit Filled  Biscuit Fruit Filled
 Instant Soup Instant Soup
Steak & Onion Casserole Minced Steak
 Beans in Tomato Sauce Mixed vegetables
Fruit Salad Mixed Fruit Pudding

 

DRINKS

Instant Skimmed Milk, Sugar, Tea, Coffee, Beef Stock Drink and Orange/ Lemon Powder.

SUNDRIES

Chewing Gum, Toilet Paper, Salt, Book matches, Waterproof matches, Can Opener, Water Purification tablets and Menu Sheet

24 HOUR RATION PACKS (1991)

The most common ration packs found are the 24 hour ones made in 1991.  They are in the main, exactly the same design and make up as the late 1980's ration packs with some minor changes to the type of sweets and that the dextrose tablets are square instead of round.

You will find that although that most of the items packing dates are marked 1991, some of the items with-in the packs will be dated from the late 1980's. Looking at the main carton that the individual ration packs come in you will notice that the main ration carton is marked up NATO/OTAN which is not on the 1980's carton (See 1987 rat pack above).

24 HOUR RATION PACK TRG, Menu C (1991)

Slightly scarcer than the GS ration packs is the Ration Pack Training (TRG.). This contains slightly less calories and contents than the basic ration pack and was issued for training purposes during the 1990's

Tins - Comparisons

Below are a comparison shot between some of the tins found within the ration pack. left are the tins from a 1979 dated ration pack, middle are the tins from a 1987 dated ration pack, and right the tins from a 1991 dated ration pack. Our examples are a Bacon Grill and Ham/Beef Spread.

Bacon Grill - On the 1979 tin this also has the weight of the tin printed upon the lid. The 1987 tin has slightly smaller printing and does not have the weights printed on it.  The 1991 dated tin, the wording has changed from Bacon grill to Bacon burgers and the printing is larger and again this tin also does not have the weight printed on it.

Meat Spreads -  Both the 1979 and 1987 tins are identical in appearance and the only noticeable difference is in label which is stuck to the base of the small tin. The 1991 Beef spread tin lid design is different from the earlier tins and has a smaller ring pull, it also does not have a printed label but has the contents printed directly onto the base of the tin.

24 HOUR RATION ARCTIC Pack (1986)

The Artic ration pack is designed for use in Artic conditions such as found in Norway. The pack contains more calories than the normal ration packs and instead of the various tinned food the emphasis is on freeze dried food. The theory being that being surrounded by snow it is easier to boil water to make the meals which in turn gets more warm fluids into the body. Hi energy snacks such as Nuts and raisins are also added and the standard sweets are also doubled up.


 Menu 'C' 

24-HOUR RATION ARCTIC (1984)

MENU SHEET 24 - HOUR RATIONS GS 1984

MENU "A"

MENU "B"

BREAKFAST BREAKFAST
Porridge Porridge
Chocolate Drink Chocolate Drink
SNACK SNACK
Beef Spread Chicken Spread
Biscuits Brown Biscuits Brown
Biscuit Fruit Filled Biscuit Fruit Filled
Chocolate Full Cream Chocolate Full Cream
Chocolate Covered Caramel Chocolate Covered Caramel
Nuts & Raisins Nuts & Raisins
Dextrose Tablets (Lemon) Dextrose Tablets (Orange)
Chocolate Fruit & Nuts Chocolate Fruit & Nuts
MAIN MENU MAIN MENU
Instant Soup Instant Soup
Beef Granules Curried Beef Granules
Potatoes Rice
Peas Peas
Apple Flakes Apple & Apricot Flakes
MENU "C" MENU "D"
BREAKFAST BREAKFAST
Porridge Porridge
Chocolate Drink Chocolate Drink
SNACK SNACK
Chicken & Ham Spread Beef Spread
Biscuits Brown Biscuits Brown
Biscuit Fruit Filled Biscuit Fruit Filled
Chocolate Full Cream Chocolate Full Cream
Chocolate Covered Caramel Chocolate Covered Caramel
Nuts & Raisins Nuts & Raisins
Dextrose Tablets (Lemon) Dextrose Tablets (Orange)
Chocolate Fruit & Nuts Chocolate Fruit & Nuts
MAIN MENU MAIN MENU
Instant Soup Instant Soup
Mutton Granules Chicken Supreme Granules
Potatoes Rice
Peas Peas
Apple Flakes Apple & Apricot Flakes

 

DRINKS

Instant Skimmed Milk, Sugar, Tea, Coffee, Beef Stock Drink and Orange/Lemon Powder.

SUNDRIES

Chewing Gum, Toilet Paper, Paper Tissues, Salt, Wooden Spatula, Book matches, Matches Waterproof , Can Opener, Water Purification tablets and Menu Sheet

COMPO RATIONS

To supplement the 24 hour ration packs there are several types of COMPO ration packs that contain larger quantities of Tinned food, these are generally issued to vehicle crews and where units are away from the front line or in a static position. 

COMPO RATION - 4 MEN, Menu C (1986)

Our above 4 Men ration pack was not sealed and is missing the Brew kit and a few other tins were found to be missing. We have replaced the missing tins but I am unsure as to if it should have two of the blue plastic bottles which are salt containers. These would be issued to vehicle crews and any 4 man unit and are generally designed to provide a more varied menu than the smaller one man ration packs for one day. The problem with these COMPO boxes is that sometimes the contents of the tins ferment and eventually blow the tin. In this case it was the Pilchards in Tomato Sauce, and the Steak and Kidney puddings.

COMPO RATION - 10 MEN, Menu E (1980)

Issued on a section basis and where it was impractical to issue the one man or four man ration packs. This pack which we acquired unopened contains every thing a 10 man section would require for one day. They unit should also get issued loafs of bread to supplement the meals. Once again the problem with these COMPO boxes is that sometimes the contents of the tins ferment and eventually blow the tin. In this case it was the Beans in Tomato Sauce that have blown.

COMPO RATION - 10 MAN, Menu (1989)

Boil in the Bag Rations

We have included the Boil in the Bag rations here just for completeness which takes us up to the end of the 1990's. The Sundries come in a factory sealed bag containing a half box. and it has been deliberately not opened as they would not be able to be resealed. Below are among two of the first types to be issued dating 1995/1996 and 1996/1997 respectively. Some of the items contained, like the earlier packs did not stand the test of time, for example, the Primula spread was destroyed due to an ominous smell and as per the earlier packs some of the chocolate had to be disposed off.

24 HOUR RATION GP (1995/1996)

24 HOUR RATION (1996/1997)

Menus for the 24 Hour Ration GP and the 24 Hour Ration packs.

Although both Ration boxes are labeled differently the menus both state 24 Hour Ration GP. I suspect this may be down to a cut and paste error during the design phase.

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