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"As good as Mother makes?": Food, Family and the Western Front by Rachel Duffett


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"As good as Mother makes?": Food, Family and the Western Front by Rachel Duffett (Essex University).

Rachel Duffett is the author of The Stomach for Fighting: Food and the Soldiers of the Great War (MUP, 2012) and joint-editor of Food and War in Tweneth Century Europe (Ashgate, 2011). She has written extensively on the significance of food in the war and has contributed to numerous radio, TV and magazine features. Her latest research project is on the legacy of the war in chidren's play and toys and 'Playing Soldiers?' has just been published in Children's Literature and Culture of the First World War (Routledge, 2016).

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"As good as Mother makes?": Food, Family and the Western Front by Rachel Duffett

  1. 1. ‘”‘”As good as Mother makes?”:As good as Mother makes?”: Food, Family and the WesternFood, Family and the Western Front.’Front.’ Dr Rachel DuffettDr Rachel Duffett University of EssexUniversity of Essex Everyday Lives in War FWWEveryday Lives in War FWW CentreCentre
  2. 2. ‘Have heard a good deal about German atrocities, but in some respects the British are quite as bad and cruel, for weeks together we have not had a second vegetable, often none at all…’ S.T. Eachus, IWM 01/51/1 diary entry dated 16.8.1916
  3. 3. ‘I have not seen any dead. I have done worse. In the dank air I have perceived it, and in the darkness, felt… No Man’s Land under snow is like the face of the moon chaotic, crater-ridden, uninhabitable, awful, the abode of madness.’ Wilfred Owen to his mother, 19 January 1917
  4. 4. ‘I do not like writing here nothing to talk about and nobody to see only fresh green fields.’ George Stopher to his mother, 20 May 1916George Stopher to his mother, 20 May 1916 © Ipswich Records Office
  5. 5. British Army Frontline Ration ScaleBritish Army Frontline Ration Scale (4,193 calories per day)(4,193 calories per day) 19171917 Meat (fresh or frozen)Meat (fresh or frozen) 1 lb1 lb oror Meat (preserved)Meat (preserved) 9 oz9 oz BreadBread 1 lb1 lb oror BiscuitBiscuit 10 oz10 oz BaconBacon 4 oz4 oz CheeseCheese 2 oz2 oz Fresh VegetablesFresh Vegetables 8 oz8 oz TeaTea 5/8 oz5/8 oz JamJam 3 oz3 oz SugarSugar 3 oz3 oz
  6. 6. Distributing the rations
  7. 7. Sgt Herring’s picture frame - carved from a hardtack biscuit © Imperial war Museum
  8. 8. Fish PasteFish Paste 8 tins of Bully Beef8 tins of Bully Beef 4 tins of sardines4 tins of sardines PepperPepper Pass the meat and sardines through mincerPass the meat and sardines through mincer twice, and add pepper. Press well down intotwice, and add pepper. Press well down into a kettle lid, smooth over and pour a littlea kettle lid, smooth over and pour a little melted fat over the top to give a face.melted fat over the top to give a face.
  9. 9. ‘It was simply a wild scramble, such as respectable people could not imagine, and a very rough introduction to army life. It was no use waiting til the scramble had subsided. That only meant we should get nothing, so, like hundreds of others had to, I scrambled for food.’ John Jackson, Private 12768: Memoir of a Tommy (Stroud, 2005), p. 17.
  10. 10. Meal in a training camp near Eastbourne, 1916
  11. 11. Connections with homeConnections with home The Home Depot, Regents Park Mail being sorted in the field
  12. 12. ©
  13. 13. Parcels from home Image from The Sphere, caption reads: "The Christmas mail for the front has been larger than ever this year, and the Post Office has been dispatching parcels to the soldiers at the rate of a quarter of a million a day. The picture shows a few of them arriving at their destination at the front."
  14. 14. ©