This photograph shows Major Frank Stevens (left), the Duke’s second-in-command, conducting one of the daily food inspections that took place at the Bedfordshire Training Depot. Duke Herbrand, as officer-in-command of the depot, took a keen interest in the standard of food and would attend the food inspection on a weekly basis. G. Foster (centre), the Sergeant Cook, is showing the meal to Duke Herbrand (on the right).
Food was incredibly important for keeping the volunteers going, fuelling them in training and later whilst fighting. The daily ration entitlement for the soldiers in training at the Bedfordshire Training Depot in 1914 was calculated to produce 4,607 calories per day. The volunteer’s daily food would have included:
- 1 1/4 lb fresh or frozen meat or 1 lb preserved meat
- 1 1/4 lb bread, or 1 lb biscuit
- 4 oz. bacon
- 3 oz. cheese
- 5/8 oz. tea
- 4 oz. jam
- 3 oz. sugar
- 1/2 oz salt
- 1/36 oz. pepper
- 1/20 oz. mustard
- 8 oz. fresh or 2 oz. dried vegetables
- 1/2 gill rum (at discretion of commanding general)
- Up to 2 oz. tobacco per week.
As a result of this high calorie diet and intensive training programme, the uniforms issued to volunteers from the Quartermaster’s Store after they enlisted would have allowed for the men to expand by 4 inches during their time at the depot. The Woburn Estate produced nearly 30 tons of potatoes a year which were supplied to the training depot along with milk and butter from the dairy cattle.
The photograph shows the type of rations and packaging that the Great War soldier would have been very familiar with. The 1 ¼ lb fresh meat daily allowance on home service was replaced with canned meat at The Front. There was a plentiful supply of canned meat but the taste was very repetitive. Soldiers would add all manner of sauces sent from home to add flavour to the rations. Cocoa, tea, Oxo and Camp Coffee all became firm favourites for the men serving on the Front.
Woburn Abbey Marketing Executive