Feeding the Landser, 1914
Until relatively recently rations have historically been the bulkiest items required by armies. Not until the First World War did the weight of ammunition expended by armies regularly exceed the weight of the food consumed by their troops. And even, the rations for an army still totaled up pretty quickly, as can be seen by the figures for the German soldier in 1914.
|Pease, beans, or flour||80|
The items on this list may appear somewhat odd. After all, it seems to make little sense for the daily ration to consist of 65 grams of canned beef, 80 grams of smoked, 120 of fresh, and 90 of pork. But that’s because although the calculation of the ration issue was per man per day, the issue was actually by unit per week. Cooking was by companies, done in large horse-drawn cauldrons which the cooks would tend while on the march.
In any case, the total daily issue per man came to nearly 1.5 kilograms. Now consider that the armies which Germany put into the field in 1914 totaled over five million men, and one can begin to see the magnitude of the problem of feeding the troops even in a war in which ammunition expenditure could amount to hundreds of pounds per man per day. And we still haven’t accounted for the men’s daily beer ration.
A Sailor’s Revenge
Everyone knows what getting a “Dear John” letter means; some lonely soldier or sailor, marine or airman, far from home, pinning for his girlfriend, receives a letter from her in which she breaks off their relationship, often announcing that she’s fallen in love – perhaps even married – someone else. Of course there isn’t much the poor serviceman can do.
Or maybe there is.
It seems that many years ago a young submariner had become engaged to a certain young woman. Soon afterwards his boat left on a long deployment. And after a little while the inevitable happened; the sailor’s fiancé sent him a “Dear John” letter saying she had gotten tired of waiting and had fallen in love with another man.
Now most sailors would have gotten angry, and some would have gotten drunk. But not this young man.
After reading the letter, the young sailor went around to all his shipmates, collecting whatever pictures they could spare – of their sisters, their mothers, exotic island women, ex- and present-girlfriends, and so forth. These he sent to his former girlfriend, with a note saying that he had forgotten which one she was and would she please send the photos back with some indication as to which was of her.
--With thanks to Ray Merriam