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FEEDING AN ARMY.

PROBLEM OF SUPPLY BRITISH TROOPS THE BEST FED. Although the Germans pride themselves on their thorough methods of making war, aud the Gerrhan army has boon hold up to the admiration of tho world as the best equipped and best cared for military machine ever evolved by human ingenuity, this war has revealed tho interesting fact that in several vital respects the organisation of the British Army is better than that of the German. The British transport system, says the London correspondent of the Melbourne "Age," has proved moro effective, British heavy ammunition has showed a smaller percentage of defective bursting power, and, most important of all, the British soldiers are tho best fed of all the armies in the field. Many great battles have been decided by the effectiveness of the commissariat department, and not only has tho British commissariat department in this war worked well and smoothly from the outset, but the daily dietary allowance of the British soldier has been on such a liberal scale as to command tho wonder aud friendly envy of his French and-Belgiaji comrades. "The daily ration of each British soldier at tho front consists of: —Bread ljlb., or biscuit, lib.; fresh meat ~ (frozen). l}lb., or tinned meat, lib.; jam, }lb.; bacon, Jib.; cheeso, 30z.; sugar, 30z.; tea, -|oz.; salt, }oz.; rum, i gill; and occasionally tobacco, 20z., or 50 cigarettes, per week; fresh vegetables, Alb. daily, when procurable, or lime juice.

In addition to the ordinary daily ration" each soldier carries with him a reserve ration of biscuit and tinned meat. During the retreat from Mons this reserve allowance formed the food of the British troops for one day, for the Army Service Corps could not reach them in their battle position. With each brigade is a requisitioning officer, who supplements tho soldiers' ration by requisitioning supplies locally, and who is provided with a motorcar to carry out his duties. "Requisitioning" plays an important part in. all wars, but there are difforent ways of doing it. _ Tho German methods of "requisitioning" stores at the pistol point arid paying the terrified storekeeper in orders on tho German Treasury, redeemable after the war, would not commend itself to a British quarter-master or a British general. Soldiers' Food Allowances. The famished condition of a number of the German prisoners taken in France and Belgium indicates that the German Army service system has not worked so well as might have been expected from German boasts of perfect military efficiency, but oven when it is in perfect working order the German soldier is not so well fed as the British soldier. The German soldier receives daily lib. 6cz. bread, 12oz. meat (or Boz. of the inevitable German sausage), Soz. dried vegetables, or 21b. boz. potatoes, and also coffee, bacon and rico. The French soldier has Hlb. of bread, lib. of meat, Jib. of dried vegetables, and rice, white beans, coffee, or chocolate. The Belgian soldier's meat ration is only Boz. daily, but he also gets a concentrated bouillon, which is highly nutritive.

The British allowance per man has been'allotted by scientific experts after a study of "onorgy units" and other qualities of food. They calculate that 2000 "calories" (heat-giving and energymaking units) are required to keep a human being alive, if he is lying in bed without any physical or mental exertion. Four thousand five hundred "calories" are required to keep a man's strength up to full pitch on active service, reckoned at a 20 miles' marching day. The British soldier's rations for one day provide Dim with 5000 "calories," which provide for a reserve fund of nervous energy when the troops are called upon to make extra exertions. But it is one thing for experts to draw up a scientific dietary scale, and another thing to see to it that the troops get that scale' in the trenches during a war. It speaks volumes for the efficiency of the British Army Service Corps that only once during the present war was the transport service slightly out of gear. That was at the beginning, when the British Army, hurriedly thrown into the field to defend Mons, had to retire to conform to the French retreat before the Army Service Corps organisation had time to get to work. Even in those trying conditions the corps-did wonders under exceptional difficulties. Ever since then rhe British Army transport,, under Sir William Robertson, the quartermaster-general with Sir John French, has carried out all the services of feeding, clothing, transporting and supplying, with stores the whole of the British forces in tho field with complote smoothness. Triumph of Transport Organisation. Such a feat represents a triumph of transport organisation. From the base to the field every detail must be perfect. In the case of the British Army, transport is made easier by tho nearness of the base to the front. Nevertheless, the work reflects the greatest credit on the branch of the British Army concerned; and the generous co-operation of the French railway authorities. .It is gratifying evi dence of the fine spirit which exists be tween , the Allies to learn, from the highest official British source, that the French railway authorities, in spite of their own heavy task of supplying their own troops over a battle front some 350 miles in length, have never yet failed in tho additional duty of acting as a line of communication for the British army. It has been rightly pointed out that the successful handling of such a complicated transport task proves to what an extent of elastic efficiency the transport organisation has been brought by preparation and practice in peace manoeuvres.

But the difficulties of army service transportation by no means ceases when the railhead, where supplies are unloaded from the railway trucks, is reached. To get the' food to the army in the field is an equally important operation, demanding perfect organisation and great courage on the part of the men engaged in this branch of the service. The army line, with its winding ramifications, extends far from railway statioas. .Between the railhead and tho troops a system of army motor transport takes over the work. The supplies are transferred to motor lorries, organised into formations designated supply columns, and running as regularly as a train sendee. A military correspondent _ of "The Times" gives some interesting details of this lorry service. ' Each supply column is a separate and complete unit, and there is one of these units for every division. The supply column for an infantry division consists -of 38 3-ton lorries of which one is for postal sorvices and 27 for the conveyance of one day's food and fonge for 17,000 men and 4000 horses. The remaining ten lorries are partly for first aid and partly for emergency work._ Tho 27 suppfy lorries aro divided into four groups, three or four lorries each and one of 15 lorries.

The three groups of four are for tho tlirce infantry brigades in a division. The remaining group is for all tho mounted units of the division. This disparity in tho numbers of the lorries is.accounted for by the amount of the forage to be carried. Each infantry brigade group is loaded as follows :— One lorry with bread, one with meat, one with groceries, and one with oaifl. As soon as the supply column is loaded it makes its daily trip from rail-

head to rendezvous. This spot' is fixed by corps or divisional headquarters the previous night, and in somo central position well in roar of tho troops it is supplying. As soon as the tactical situation admits, a refilling point is decided upon to which tho supply column advances from rendezvous, hero meeting tho horse-drawn vehicles of tho supply section of tho train. Supplies are then transferred and the supply column returns to Tailhead (which may or may not bo tho same station as "on the previous day), whilo the supply section of the train proceeds to the troops. Tho supply train wagons on arrival in tho area where troops are billeted proceed direct to their own regiments or batteries and hand over their supplies. They return empty to some central position in the billeting area and are parked for the remainder of the night. Next morning they proceed to tho refilling point and repeat tho programme of the previous day. Courage of the Transport Merit. Tho mou attached to this transport service havo an arduous time of it, and need to be porpotually on the alert for ambuscades and surprises by the enemy, who are always watching to capturo food convoys. Somo stirring stories have been told of tho devotion and courage shown by British trans- ' port men in guarding their convoys, but their courago genorally goeß unclironicled. Their work is unpretentious, but it is very voluablo, and their ranks number many of tho unknown heroes of the war. One morning, in the dawning light and in a thick mist, a transport car ran into an outpost 01 Ulans, muffled up in their heavy coats and fust asleep. Before they realised that tho car was British it had heen smartiy turned round and vanished again into the mist. During one battle the roads traversed by tho motor transports wero continually under tiro. On one occasion a Gorman Bholl exploded under the cook's wagon of tho G.O.C. 3rd Division. The shell oxploded and blew to pieces tho vehicle, horso and driver. Tho cook miraculously escaped with only a wound. So accurate was tho shell fire that the roads were impassable during daylight, and it was only at night that supplies could be forwarded. Even at night tho roads wore not safe, and were shelled periodically in the hours of darkness. On another occasion attacks onV'the outpost line were being made when/ tho supply cnovoys arrived. Bullets' and shells flew over the train, ono high explosive dropping a few yards from the wagons. Only ono casualty; howovor, occurred, one man being hit by a bullet in the spine. During 'this great battle the troops nightly received their following day's supplies in quantities more-than sufficient. But it takes more than German shells to stop- the British trans port supply. No matter how fierce the battle the night before the British soldier has .his breakfast bacon hot and appetising in his trench next morning.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DOM19150201.2.56

Bibliographic details

FEEDING AN ARMY., Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2373, 1 February 1915

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1,721

FEEDING AN ARMY. Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2373, 1 February 1915

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