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One Meal a Day For a Fortnight – Test of British War Rations.

A body of strong-limbed, sturdy teetotallers and non-smokers are marching daily from point to point over Salisbury Plain. They wear khaki uniform, carry rifle and bayonet and 150 rounds of ball ammunition.

They sleep nightly under canvas, cook their own meals, which are on the most meagre scale, and are sworn to accept no additions to the quantity laid, no matter how much kindly village matrons and maids tempt them with proffered dainties.

Since Monday last week they have pursued their undeviating way across the plain. It is a hunger march under discipline conditions. The men are all privates and non-commissioned officers of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, and they were selected from some hundred or two volunteers. The heroic twenty, who have another week of tramping in rain or sunshine before them, have submitted to an experiment of the War Office, intended to ascertain the sustaining powers of the field rations which the British Army carries on active service.

Colonel Melville, a distinguished physiologist, is at the head of the medical men who are watching and noting the result of the experiment. The leader of the party, Captain Body, like his men, is carrying the men’s ordinary field-service equipment, which weighs over 50lb,, and it must be worn throughout the march. Several types of equipment are being tried, including the Mills-Borow, which is a modification of that used by the Japanese.

The field ration which officers and men are using – the medical observers as well as the others – is as follows;

  • 1 ¼ lb. fresh meat or 1 lb. nominal preserved meat or 1 lb. salt meat
  • 1 ¼ lb. bread or 1 lb. biscuit or 1 lb flour
  • 5/8 oz. tea
  • 1-36 oz. pepper
  • ¼ lb. jam
  • 1/2 lb. fresh or 4 oz. preserved vegetables
  • 2 oz. sugar
  • 1/2 ox. salt

–  Article printed in the Evening Telegram, 3rd November 1909


A follow-up article was published in the Derby Daily Telegraph on 25th October 1909.

ARMY RATIONS TEST
LANCASHIRE SOLDIERS ENDURANCE

The Salisbury correspondent of the “Standard” telegraphing under Sunday’s date says:- The result of the Army rations test which concluded on Saturday is said to be highly satisfactory from the physiological point of view, but it is more than probable that a change will be made in the preserved rations which do not appear sufficient either in quality or quantity for the work expected from the modern fighting man.

The little army of Loyal Lancashires, who have been marching fourteen miles a day for a fortnight in full kit and camping out with nothing to sustain them but the service rations did their last fourteen miles yesterday round the Ludgershall country, finishing at Tidworth barracks, which they had left two weeks ago. They were thanked for the manner in which they had carried out the experimental march and for the loyalty at all times shown to the exacting regulations under which they had volunteered.

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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
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