Students Staff

01 July 2016

Food on the frontline in the battle of the Somme

soldiers eating

As the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme is marked Dr Rachel Duffett has written about the challenges of feeding troops in the trenches.

Dr Duffett, who is part of the Everyday Lives in War engagement centre funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is an expert on the history of food in the army.

On the BBC’s HistoryExtra website she writes of the problems of meeting the army’s aim of delivering 4,193 calories of food a day to each soldier: “On paper it read very well, but the reality was often very different: the variety was not available and the calories were all too frequently delivered in the form of the much despised tinned bully and hardtack biscuits.”

In the Huffington Post, Dr Duffett writes: “If food was in short supply, compensation was sometimes offered in the form of a double rum ration. The rum helped to keep the cold out in the wet and muddy trenches and, of course, it also served to fire the soldiers up for what was to come - ‘going over the top’ was marginally more palatable when a man had just had his shot of spirit.”

If you are interested in Dr Duffett's work you can also read 'A War Unimagined: Food and the Rank and File Soldier of the First World War' on the AHRC website.

...more news releases