CCGW Online Exhibtion

Procurement, Cooking, and Supply Depots

Until late 1915, soldiers in the trenches were not supplied with hot food, and had to rely on “tommy cookers,” portable stoves fuelled by solidified alcohol that were inefficient and unreliable. Cookhouses were established behind the lines, and ration parties were sent to retrieve daily rations. However, by the time the food reached the men on the front lines, it was often cold.

Image: Portable Stove. CCGW Collection.

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Managing the supplies

Supplies, from food to ammunition, were brought from England by train, ferried across the Channel, then to the battlefields. The main railway stations and central depots were situated some 10 to 15 miles behind the lines and divisional dumps and cookhouses about 7 miles from the front. Gaps in the supply chain had to be breached by lorries and light railways, horse-drawn carts and soldiers on foot carrying supplies and rations to the trenches, usually at night to minimize the risks.

Image: “Transport in line to load up. 1st Divisional Train (Cdn. Army Service Corps). July, 1916.” Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-000270

While men in the trenches ate rations of hard biscuits and canned meat or maconochie stew, it was not uncommon for officers, especially at the rear, to be offered a better diet. A reflection of civilian society within the army, class difference could be observed in the soldiers’ diet as well, and officers contributed a certain portion of their pay for “better messing” and ate separately from enlisted troops.

Image: “Officers dining at home estaminet, a type of cafe/bar run by women to provide income during the conflict. Possibly located at Mericout-l’-Abbe, in the Somme Department (region).” CCGW Collection, 2016.3.1.1-40

Image: “78th Bn. men leaving Y.M.C.A. Dugout near front line. September, 1917.” Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/O-1982

Did you know?

Soldiers could also obtain food from civilian markets behind the lines, as well as from military canteens run by YMCA volunteers, where they were offered jams, preserves and chocolate.

Field bakeries were established across France and England to supply the different divisions with bread. However, as they were far from the battlefields, the bread was often stale by the time it reached the troops in the trenches.

Procurement, Cooking, and Supply Depots

Until late 1915, soldiers in the trenches were not supplied with hot food, and had to rely on “tommy cookers,” portable stoves fuelled by solidified alcohol that were inefficient and unreliable. Cookhouses were established behind the lines, and ration parties were sent to retrieve daily rations. However, by the time the food reached the men on the front lines, it was often cold.

Image: Portable Stove. CCGW Collection.

Managing the supplies

Supplies, from food to ammunition, were brought from England by train, ferried across the Channel, then to the battlefields. The main railway stations and central depots were situated some 10 to 15 miles behind the lines and divisional dumps and cookhouses about 7 miles from the front. Gaps in the supply chain had to be breached by lorries and light railways, horse-drawn carts and soldiers on foot carrying supplies and rations to the trenches, usually at night to minimize the risks.

Image: “Transport in line to load up. 1st Divisional Train (Cdn. Army Service Corps). July, 1916.” Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-000270

While men in the trenches ate rations of hard biscuits and canned meat or maconochie stew, it was not uncommon for officers, especially at the rear, to be offered a better diet. A reflection of civilian society within the army, class difference could be observed in the soldiers’ diet as well, and officers contributed a certain portion of their pay for “better messing” and ate separately from enlisted troops.

Image: “Officers dining at home estaminet, a type of cafe/bar run by women to provide income during the conflict. Possibly located at Mericout-l’-Abbe, in the Somme Department (region).” CCGW Collection, 2016.3.1.1-40

Image: “78th Bn. men leaving Y.M.C.A. Dugout near front line. September, 1917.” Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/O-1982

Did you know?

Soldiers could also obtain food from civilian markets behind the lines, as well as from military canteens run by YMCA volunteers, where they were offered jams, preserves and chocolate.

Field bakeries were established across France and England to supply the different divisions with bread. However, as they were far from the battlefields, the bread was often stale by the time it reached the troops in the trenches.

CCGW Online Exhibtion

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