Food

Wayne frequently complained in his journal, and with reason, about the food he received in the South Pacific (https://waynes-journal.com/2014/11/20/november-21-1944/). This is in marked contrast to Verne’s comment in a letter dated December 15 (https://waynes-journal.com/2014/12/14/december-15-1944/): “The food has been much better we ever had in the states.”

At Station 153, where Verne was stationed with the 390th Bombardment Group (H), meals were served out of a Consolidated Mess:1

One of the most important factors contributing to the high morale at Station 153 is the efficient, smooth-running operation of the Consolidated Mess. Feeding an average of 1500 hungry men three times a day and keeping the reasonably happy in the process in the face of limitations imposed by plant and equipment and the day-in day-out monotony of Army Field Rations require more than perfunctory application of thought and energy.

The operating staff consists of 24 day cooks, working in three shifts of eight men each, six night cooks, on duty of two shifts of three men each, four bakers dividing two shifts, and three butchers. This staff is augmented by 41 KP’s, twelve of whom are on permanent basis.

Average attendance at meals is 1,200 for breakfast, 1,600 for dinner and 1,500 for supper. The mess also serves a meal at midnight for men working on the line, with average attendance of 300. The menu includes left-overs from dinner and supper.

Food items . . . are delivered daily from the Chief Quartermaster, Communications Zone, ETOUSA, the depot at Stowmarket serving this station. Items supplied are made up from a general menu which is the basis for rations going to every Army unit in the United Kingdom.

Following this article are [seven] days’ sample menus. These are representative of meals at Consolidated Mess from one week to another and indicate the limited variety of the fare.

Cereals and fresh fruits and vegetables have their source in Britain. All other food items are shipped from the States.

The menus for the meals served during the week of December 10, 1944 were as follows:

December 10 – Sunday

Breakfast

Orange Juice
Stewed Prunes
Whole Wheat Cereal
Milk
Scrambled Eggs
Pork Sausage
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Roast Chicken
Giblet Gravy
Bread Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Corn
Buttered Turnips
Celery
Apple Cobbler
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Supper

Cold Cuts
Sliced Cheese
Baked Potatoes
String Beans
Cole Slaw
Fresh Apples
Peanuts
Cocoa (Cold)
Coffee

December 11 – Monday

Breakfast

Fruit Juice
Stewed Peaches
Dry Cereal
Milk
Onion Omelt
Fried Bacon
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Meat Loaf with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Creamed Peas
Brussels Sprouts
Sliced Peaches
Bread
Peanut Butter
Coffee

Supper

Meat and Vegetable Hash
Boiled Potatoes
Boiled Cabbage
Beet & Onion Salad
Sliced Apples & Raisins
Bread
Jam
Coffee

December 12 – Tuesday

Breakfast

Fruit Juice
Whole Wheat Cereal
Milk
Stewed Prunes
Scrambled Eggs
Fried Potatoes
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Baked Beans with Cold Cuts
Sliced Cheese
Leeks
Spinach
Cole Slaw
Pudding
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Supper

Roast Pork Chops with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Rice
Creamed String Beans
Sauerkraut
Pickled Beets
Cake
Bread
Jam
Tea

December 13 – Wednesday

Breakfast

Fruit Juice
Stewed Peaches
Wheat Flakes
Milk
Scrambled Eggs
Fried Bacon
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Meat & Vegetable Hash
Hash Brown Potatoes
Boiled Cabbage
Fresh Buttered Carrots
Cookies
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Supper

Hamburgers
Brown Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Stewed Tomatoes
Pickled Beets
Celery
Pineapple
Bread
Peanut Butter
Coffee

December 14 – Thursday

Breakfast

Fresh Apples
Fruit Juice
Whole Wheat Cereal
Milk
Onion Omelt
Fried Bacon
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Baked Ham with Raisin Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Buttered Corn
Sauerkraut
Cake
Bread
Jam
Cocoa

Supper

Chili Con Carne with Beans
Fresh Baked Potatoes
Sliced Cheese
Breaded Tomatoes
Boiled Beets
Cole Slaw
Pears
Bread
Butter
Coffee

December 15 – Friday

Breakfast

Fresh Apples
Fruit Juice
Dry Cereal
Milk
Fried Potatoes
Fried Bacon
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Fried Cod Fish with Sauce
Boiled Potatoes
String Beans
Beet & Onion Salad
Peach Cobbler
Bread
Butter
Coffee

Supper

Pork Chops with Gravy
Steamed Rice
Buttered Carrots
Sauerkraut
Fruit Cocktail
Bread
Jam
Coffee

December 16 – Saturday

Breakfast

Fruit Juice
Dry Cereal
Milk
Fried Bacon
Hot Cakes
Syrup
Butter
Coffee

Dinner

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
Sliced Cheese
Buttered Cauliflower
Spinach with Bacon
Carrot & Raisin Salad
Pudding
Bread
Jam
Cocoa

Supper

Roast Beef with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Breaded Tomatoes
Buttered Parsnips
Cake
Bread
Butter
Coffee

1 Consolidated Mess. Headquarters, AAF Station 153, 390th Bombardment Group (H). [ND], microfilm B0426, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 357-367.

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6 Responses to Food

  1. suchled says:

    Army cooks were usually pretty clever. The menu was fantastic but a far cry from what the poor old civilians had at that time and even up until the lifting of rationaing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like a nice varied menu. I guess then they probably didn’t have to conform with religious or dietary restrictions?

    Like

  3. a gray says:

    A follower of Wayne’s Journal who desires to remain anonymous has asked that I post the following comment on his behalf:

    The menus and comments you have posted remind me of some of the problems and results of the food rationing during those years. I never had to eat the field rations here in the US but there were lots of inefficiencies and mixups. Generally in the Construction Camps, food was ample but very little variation, and when the soldiers started moving in, the quality and volume for the contractors generally suffered with the best going to the military. We were all conscious of it, but do not recall any complaints about that.

    But the Commissary contractor for the Kingman Air Base was the worst. We were expected to work on a breakfast of a spoonful of dried scrambled eggs and one pancake, but when we were cut down to a half a pancake, we did rebel. It seems like the commissary contractor was being paid enough but was not spending enough, and that was straightened out, but there were some odd results happening too.

    I was working in Hanford, CA, [in the oil fields] so ate my meals in a restaurant. Apparently the military was not taking the rib portions of the beef, and the only meat on the menu there consistently was a rib steak, not trimmed on the edges and with the bone still on. About a half inch thick and wider than the plate. A working man’s dinner for most of my life has usually cost about one hour’s wages, but I was making $1.14 roughnecking or $1.28 for derrick man, at the top of the pipe, and those big steak dinners with the Government fixed price, was only $0.55, so those were by far the best meals I had during the war.

    Civilians were allowed ration stamps for things like milk and butter and cheese, and I know a lot of times there was none available, but I did not have a home to worry about in those days, so I do not know how good or bad that was.

    My longest and best friend, after the war years, had been a Bombardier/Navigator, both in WW2 and again in the Korean War, but he never mentioned how bad it was, but both my brother and my best childhood friend were on different destroyers in the biggest Typhoon, probably the one where four destroyers were lost. It bothered my childhood friend, but my brother did not seem to have been permanently damaged by it.

    Like

  4. Wow. Compared to what the men in the Pacific bomb groups usually ate, those in Europe ate like kings. In the Pacific, fresh vegetables, varieties of meat, etc. were treats by comparison. Seem to remember reading a few stories where downed pilots ending up on Navy ships commented on how much better their food was as well.

    Like

    • a gray says:

      Flying out of England as they did, the 8th Air Force enjoyed the production, storage and transportation facilities of a developed country. Those of the 5th, 13th and other Air Forces only had what they could move from island-to-island or that the countries such as China or India could provide. There is a vast difference, an almost incomprehensible difference, between the life of a member of the 8th Air Force and that of someone serving, say, in the 13th Air Force. In trying to understand World War II and how it affected our families, I think it is important to first come to understand the conditions under which our family members lived while serving in the War.

      Like

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