Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Rations of the German Army

Eastern Front. A German courier delivering mail and rations to combat troops in the trenches.

The German Army, like all others, had ration scales laid down for both men and horses. However, once the Russian campaign had started, ration supplies were often erratic, and the men in the field had to scavenge for themselves. Quite often the horses became food, especially during the siege of the encircled 6. Armee at Stalingrad. The following is an intelligence report on ration scales. It applied whenever possible, but was never more than a guide when means were in short supply:

1. Human rations scales
The daily ration quantity (Portionsatz) is the amount of food consumed by one man for one day. It consists of three meals, the noon meal amounting to one-half of the total, the evening meal to one-third, and the next morning's breakfast to one-sixth. Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (Armed Forces High Command) has laid down an over-all plan specifying the maximum amount of any ration item that may be served. The amount depends upon two factors: the duty class of the man receiving the ration, and the component class of the particular item being served. 'There are four main types of rations served to troops. Ration I (Verpflegungssatz I) is for troops committed to combat, for those that are recuperating from combat, and for troops stationed in Norway north of 66° North. Ration II is for occupation and line of communication troops. Ration III is for garrison troops within Germany. Ration IV goes to office workers and nurses within Germany. Hospital cases may fall within any of these classes depending on the seriousness of the cases. The most important items of the component classes are as follows:
(a) bread;
(b) meats, soy bean flour, cheese, fish, and eggs;
(c) vegetables;
(d) puddings and milk;
(e) salt, mustard, vinegar, and other seasonings;
(f) spices such as pepper, cinnamon, and cloves;
(g) butter, lard, marmalades, fats, and bread spreads; (h) coffee and tea;
(i) sugar;
(j) spirits and wines;
(k) tobacco.
Substitute issues may be made within a component class but not among different component classes. Thus the daily maximum allowance of vegetables for a soldier is 60 grams of dried vegetables, or 1,200 grams of kidney beans, or 400 grams of salted vegetables, or equivalent quantities of any of about 30 other substitutes. It is not possible to predict which items will be served on any given day.

2. Special types of human rations
(1) March ration {Alarmverpflegung). The march ration is a cold food ration issued for not more than three or four consecutive days to units in transit either by carrier or on foot. It consists of approximately 700 grams of bread, 200 grams of cold meat or cheese, 60 grams of bread
spreads, 9 grams of coffee (or 4 grams of tea), 10 grams of sugar, and 6 cigarettes. Thus it has a total weight of about 987 grams.
(2) Iron ration (Eiserne Portion). An iron ration consists of 250 grams of biscuits, 200 grams of cold meat, 150 of preserved vegetables, 25 of coffee, and 25 of salt. Total weight is 650 grams without packing and 825 grams with packing. An iron half-ration is composed of 250 grams of biscuits and 200 grams of preserved meat: thus its total weight is 450 grams without packing and 535 grams with packing.
(3) Combat Package (Grosskampfpacken) and Close Combat Package (Nahkampfpacken). The Germans have begun to use these types of ration for troops engaged in combat. They includechocolate bars, fruit bars, sweets, cigarettes and possibly biscuits.

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