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Beyond the ration: Sharing and scrounging on the western front

Duffett, R (2011) 'Beyond the ration: Sharing and scrounging on the western front.' Twentieth Century British History, 22 (4). 453 - 473. ISSN 0955-2359

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The assumption to date has been that military provisioning was an unmitigated success for the British Army of the First World War; a judgement not reflected in the accounts of many of the rank and file soldiers on the Western Front. The men were often disappointed not merely by shortfalls, but also by rations that, though high in calories, failed to tempt the palate or reflect the civilian meals that had shaped their eating preferences. Whether driven by hunger or boredom, supplementing the official diet was a regular occupation for the men, through parcels from home, visits to the canteens or less legitimate means. Scrounging opportunities ranged from apples scrumped in a French orchard and an opportunistic raid on a chicken coop, to the pilfering of army stores. This article demonstrates the extent of the role played by this extra food in the men's diet and explores the significance of the way in which it was obtained and consumed. Whatever the source of the food, its even-handed division was a subject repeatedly referenced in the soldiers' diaries, letters, and memoirs. The sharing of food between pals in a just and proper fashion re-created, to some small degree, a microcosm of an ordered, civilized world in the ranks. © The Author [2011]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2012 10:35
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2019 11:16

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