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Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite

Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite

A man tried to sneak illegal drugs into a rock concert by covering them in Vegemite

Drug-sniffing dogs totally know the difference between ecstasy and Vegemite.

Vegemite has a very distinct aroma, but it’s not pungent enough to fool drug-sniffing dogs. The dogs were not fooled, and police thought it was hilarious.

According to the Herald Sun, 24 people tried to smuggle illegal drugs into the Listen Out music festival in St. Kilda, Australia, on Sunday, September 24. Multiple men reportedly attempted to sneak drugs into the festival by wrapping them in plastic wrap and hiding them in their underwear. The most resourceful of those fellows actually covered the plastic, drugs, and himself in a thick coating of Vegemite, thinking the scent of the popular Australian yeast spread would make the drug-sniffing dogs unable to detect the drugs.

"One smothered his MDMA in Vegemite believing the dog would not be able to detect his drugs. Wrong!" said Port Phillip Acting Inspector Stuart Bailey.

People are constantly trying to sneak illicit materials into concerts and sporting events. One British woman recently made the news for trying to smuggle an entire bottle of vodka into a horse race by hiding it in a salami sandwich. That wasn’t very effective, either. Vegemite may be one of the strangest things Australians eat, but it won’t distract professional, well-trained drug-sniffing dogs. The amateur smuggling attempt sure amused the officers at the scene, though.


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


Australian Man Tries to Trick Drug-Sniffing Dogs with Vegemite - Recipes

Post by Acornoz1953 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:35 am

I have been meaning to join the Forum for some time as I have a long term interest in the logistics of feeding the Oz soldier from colonial times to the current day (I served in the Australian Army for 26 years). I am currently about two thirds of the way through a book for the Australian Army History unit dealing with the history of feeding the Oz Soldier from colonial times to Afghanistan.

I recently, before I joined the Forum, I came across a posting on feeding Australian soldiers in Vietnam which was quite good but contained some errors.

Below is an extract from book manuscript that I hope Forum members will find interesting and informative.

Feeding the Australian Force Vietnam

From the very beginning, the Australian authorities struggled to maintain adequate feeding of its troops in Vietnam. While feeding in the field was relatively straightforward with the issue of a mix Australian and US combat ration packs, maintaining a decent feeding standard in fixed feeding facilities at Nui Dat and Vung Tau was a constant struggle for the supply and catering system. This resulted from a combination of ration shortages due to problems with the US logistic system, difficulty in obtaining ration items acceptable to Australian tastes, inadequate storage facilities and transport shortages.
Ration Sources

The Australian Army in Vietnam was supplied with rations from a number of sources, including America, Australia and local purchase. The major supplier, for various reasons, was the US Army, which provided fresh rations (referred to in the US Army as ‘A’ rations) tinned and packet rations (‘B’ rations) and combat rations (‘C’ rations). Various items not obtainable through the American supply system or from local purchase―Australian beef, lamb and sausages, some fruit, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc.―were regularly delivered to Vietnam by Australian supply ships. Finally, units often supplemented the normal supply commodities with items purchased on the local market, especially seasonal fresh vegetables, bread and eggs.

Under a government to government agreement, general supplies, ammunition, petroleum, medical supplies, memorial services (mortuary, cremation, etc), laundry and bath services, procurement services, and terminal and water transportation services were provided as required to Australian forces through the US Army Vietnam (USARV) logistic system in the same manner as the supplies and services were provided to US forces―this applied to the other Free World Military Assistance Forces as well. One area where exceptions existed was what the Americans refer to as ‘subsistence’, i.e. feeding.

In early 1965, the American Headquarters Support Activity (HQSA), Saigon, under operational control of the US Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence items to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. HQSA submitted its requisitions directly to the Defence Personnel Support Center in the US perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Non-perishables were shipped by landing ship tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The US Navy continued to support all US forces until March 1966, at which time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to the US Army's 1st Logistical Command.

When 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2nd Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defence Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defence Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defence Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

The US Army defines its daily ration as either ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. The ‘A’ Ration consists of a mix of fresh and packaged foods and basically the standard garrison ration, provided when fixed cooking and refrigerated storage facilities are available. The ‘B’ Ration is also a garrison ration, but is issued when refrigeration is not available the ration consisted of canned and packaged ration commodities prepared and served by unit cooks. The ‘C’ Ration, or ‘Meal, Combat, Individual’ (MCI), was the combat field ration, issued to troops on the basis of one full ration of three meals, plus sundries, per 24-hour period the ‘C’ Ration was prepared individually by the soldier.

Units in metropolitan areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau were fed ‘A rations’, i.e. the standard US Army fresh ration as served in mess halls in the US and which included fresh or frozen meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the standard monthly Continental US Master Menu. This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam this menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration. For fixed feeding in base Australian and New Zealand forces were furnished the standard US Army ‘A’ Ration, supplemented with local purchase items, plus ‘B’ Ration (see below) items issued in place of non-available ‘A’ ration items. Note that in Australia’s case every item sourced from the US ration supply system was paid for by Australia, either in cash or in kind (e.g. deliveries of refined Australian sugar to Vietnam as grants in aid to the Vietnamese government).

Although it was a huge convenience for AFV to be able to draw on the US Army’s logistic system for fresh and packaged ration items, there were many problems, including inadequate and incomplete American record keeping shortages or non-availability of standard items lack of ‘substitutes’ in the case of shortages or non-availability and differences in national food tastes (try getting an American to taste Vegemite!).

The last of these, differences in national food tastes, caused a lot of headaches for the Australians. Russ Morison, who served in Vietnam as a ration storeman with 25th Supply Platoon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps (25 SUP PL RAASC) provided this snippet from an unreferenced RAASC corps newsletter:

Russ noted that it was sometimes necessary to ‘distract’ the US Army warehouse personnel to avoid having items such as ‘Marinated green bean salad and dill pickles’ being loaded onto the Australian trucks and replacing it with something more palatable.

One of the issues faced by Australia was that, such shenanigans as those mentioned above aside, there was little scope for negotiation in the matter of rations. The classic example of this was the ‘forced issue’ of 67,000 eggs from Long Binh to 21 SUP PL (25 SUP PLs predecessor) at Vung Tau on 29 May 1966. With inadequate refrigeration facilities, 21 SUP PL was forced to immediately issue out the eggs to units which also lacked the refrigeration facilities needed to store the items and thus they had to be eaten immediately.

Official records indicate that the fresh foodstuffs sourced from the US Army’s Class I Depot at Long Binh were not always of the best quality. The War Diary of 1 Company (1 COY) RAASC, the supply platoon’s parent unit and the unit with the overall responsibility for procuring, receiving, storing and issuing rations, records on 14 May 1966 ‘Fresh rations in bad condition on arrival in area.’ Former 52 SUP PL soldier Theo Linden recalled that:

There were constant problems with supply of fresh rations through the US system, including lack of specific items, especially meat, fish bread, vegetables and fruit poor quality of fresh ration items failure by the US system to provide tinned equivalent in lieu of unavailable fresh items and poor American stocktaking and accounting practices, which regularly saw the Australian supply system forced to accept sometimes huge and unexpected quantities of ration items as the Americans frantically ‘turned over’ excess or life-expired items that had accumulated in their system due to poor stock management.

As an example of the second point, above, poor quality of fresh ration items, Australian sources for May and June 1966 record problems with the bread issued by the US Army, including:

The quality of bread issued was so bad that 5 RAR indented on 1 COY RAASC for a supply of yeast to enable unit cooks to bake bread and rolls at Nui Dat.

Problems with supply continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The 1 COY RAASC diary records numerous incidents of non-supply of fresh meat, with tinned meat being issued in lieu. There are also numerous references to fresh items being in poor condition, sometimes to such a level that the Australian supply personnel refused to accept items. Refrigerated storage was a critical issue for 1 ALSG, so critical in fact that in September 1966 the US agreed to deliver perishable items direct to the 21 SUP PL detachment at Nui Dat for direct issue to 1 ATF units, bypassing the strained refrigerated storage facilities at Vung Tau.

One is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the US Army was deliberately foisting poor quality food items onto the Australian Army, however, discussions with a number of US Army Vietnam veterans suggests that the problems encountered by 1 ALSG with the US Class I system were also encountered by the US forces in Vietnam.

AFV also drew ‘B’ Ration items from Long Binh to supplement ‘A’ Rations. Although convenient, especially in terms of storage and commodity life, the ‘B’ Ration had the combined drawbacks of monotony if used for too long and national taste differences. From mid-1967 onwards, wherever possible Australian 10-man ration packs were issued in lieu of the US ration.

Australian veterans have varied memories of C-rations. Mick Levin recalls:

To supplement rations procured from US sources and, importantly, to cater to Australian national tastes, food items were sourced from Australia, being delivered either by Landing Ship Medium (LSM) of the Australian Army’s 32nd Small Ship Squadron (AVs Harry Chauvel, Brudenell White, Vernon Sturdee and Clive Steele), plus the squadron’s cargo ship AS John Monash RAAF C-130 courier aircraft or commercial/RAN cargo ship (MV/HMAS Boonaroo and MV/HMAS Jeparit).
Items supplied from Australia included lamb, beef, frozen chickens, frozen turkeys, sausages, frozen fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit juice, fresh fruit (mainly apples and oranges), fruit cakes, Vegemite (of course), Australian jam, Australian honey, Australian butter, and Australian tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The latter two were available through the US Class I system but were of such poor quality that the decision was made to cease supply from US sources and source Australian produced items. The army, RAN and commercial ships also conveyed canteen stores—beer, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, milk shake mixes, cigarettes, and small electrical and other luxury goods—for the Australian Services Canteens Organisation (ASCO) which operated dry (i.e. they did not sell alcohol) and wet canteens at Vung Tau and Nui Dat.

In the early days of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam the decision was made to build up a substantial stock of Australian sourced non-perishable ration items which could be drawn on in an emergency. This would later prove to be a very sound decision.

The provision of Australian sourced ration items, especially meat and spreads and condiments, was highly appreciated by the Australian troops in Vietnam, who generally viewed American food tastes as ‘odd’ at the very least and found Australian food items a welcome change from American items—a number of veterans interviewed, both Army and RAAF, recall Australian lamb chops with almost sybaritic pleasure.

Problems with supply of rations from both US and Australians were regularly addressed by local purchase. As early as May 1966, with continuing problems with the quality of bread supplied by the US Class I system, COMAFV authorised local purchase of bread from Vietnamese bakeries. The quality of this bread was adjudged as excellent and 1 ALSG regularly resorted to this source of baked goods when the US supply was insufficient or of poor quality.
Other items procured on the local market included ice, fruit, fish and vegetables.

Australian national rationing in Vietnam was ‘similar to but different from’ the American system. The biggest difference was that Australian fixed messes at Vung Tau and Nui Dat generally offered a variety of choices at meal times, unlike the US Army system. Under the latter, fixed as the meal plan was to the monthly master menu, meals were usually single choice and what you saw was what you got. Too bad if your taste buds didn’t run to grilled corned beef with cabbage and green pepper salad.

Fixed Mess Feeding. The Australian Army traditionally feeds by the three separate mess system, one ‘mess’ providing separate combined accommodation, recreation and dining facilities for officers, a similar mess for warrant officers and sergeants, and a dining facility only for other ranks.
At Vung Tau following the raising of 1 ALSG mess (dining) facilities were established as follows:

• HQ 1 Company RAASC Officer's Mess (for all 1 ALSG officers)
• HQ 1 Company RAASC Sergeant's Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 2 Composite Ordnance Depot Sergeant's Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Sergeant's Mess (RAE personnel)
• 1 ARU Other Ranks Mess (HQ 1 ALSG, 1 Company RAASC, 1 ARU)
• 101 Field Workshop Other Ranks' Mess (RAAOC and RAEME personnel)
• 17 Construction Squadron Other Ranks' Mess (RAE personnel)

At Nui Dat, the home of 1 ATF, by 1968 the following mess facilities existed:

• HQ 1 ATF Officer’s Mess (HQ personnel, RAE and RASIGS officers)
• Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) Officer’s Mess (TFMA and minor units)
• Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Officer’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron Combined Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Field Regiment Officer’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Armoured Squadron Officer’s Mess
• 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight (161 RECCE FLT) Officer’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF Sergeant’s Mess
• TFMA Sergeant’s Mess
• RAR Sergeant’s Mess (three separate messes, one per RAR battalion)
• Armoured Squadron Sergeant’s Mess
• Artillery Regiment Sergeant’s Mess (including 131 Divisional Locating Battery)
• Signals Squadron Sergeant’s Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT Sergeant’s Mess
• RAASC Sergeant’s Mess
• 1 Ordnance Field Park (1 OFP) Sergeant’s Mess
• HQ 1 ATF/TFMA Other Rank’s (OR) Mess
• RAR Company OR Mess (18 x messes, one per company)
• SAS Squadron OR Mess
• Armoured Squadron OR Mess
• Signals Squadron OR Mess (including separate Signals Troops)
• 161 RECCE FLT OR Mess
• 1 OFP OR Mess
• Detachment 8th Field Ambulance OR Mess (unit OR and patients)

These facilities did not appear overnight, either at Vung Tau or Nui Dat. The 1 ALSG war diary records that on arrival at Vung Tau, no stores, including tents, refrigerators and kitchen stores had been pre-positioned and the personnel of the new unit had to start from scratch, with little more than what they stood up with and carried on their backs. The diary notes that at a time when no refrigeration or kitchen facilities existed, COMD AFV directed that 1 ALSG was to immediately go on fresh rations. In early May 1966 the 1 ALSG diary recorded that shortages in the US Class I supply system meant that Australian troops were on about 70% of the approved daily US Army ration. Although the situation in regard to facilities (kitchens, refrigeration, dining) had improved somewhat by June 1966 the ration situation had still not improved.

Not all issues could be laid at the feet of the US supply system. Again on 2 July 1966 1 ATF lodged a complaint with 1 ALSG stating that an over issue of rations had been made to the Task Force. A review of records, however, revealed that the problem arose due to over ordering on the part of 1 ATF. Just over a week later under-ordering on the part of 1 ATF resulted in fresh rations intended for 1 ALSG being sent forward to Nui Dat and ‘B’ Rations issued to Vung Tau messes instead. Orders had already been given four days previously that all refrigeration capacity at 1 ALSG was to be reserved for 1 ATF.

At a conference conducted Vietnam between 13 – 15 July 1966 attended by OC 1 Company, OC 21 Supply Platoon, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) HQ AFV and representatives of HQ USARV, problems with the quality and quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, milk, tea and some expense items were discussed. As a result of the conference logistic representatives of HQ USARV visited 1 ALSG to inspect 21 Supply Platoon ration holdings. In the words of 1 Company diary:

Problems with rations were again discussed with US Army representatives on 20 July 1966 and again the US Army made a number of promises, however, again, the only improvements noticed were in the quality of milk and bread, the latter now sourced from a US Army field bakery in Vung Tau, rather than from local sources. Discussions were also held on the matter of varying the fixed menu to make it more suitable for the Australian palate this was taken under notice by the Americans, who asked for a costing to be prepared and submitted.

During the Vietnam War (1961-73) Australia issued the Australian designed and manufactured ‘Combat Ration, One Man’, or CR1M (aka 24-hour rat pack), and the ‘Combat Ration, Ten Man’ or CR10-M (aka ‘10-man rat pack’) to its troops, and attempts were made in 1967 to secure permission for issue of the 2-Man Training Ration to provide variety to the CR1M. In addition, the ‘Combat Ration, One Man, Lightweight’ or CR1M-L, the forerunner of today’s lightweight ration pack, was trialed in Vietnam SAS squadrons were issued with US LRRP rations and British Long Range Patrol Rations (ex-Singapore) and there is anecdotal evidence that the ‘Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration’ saw limited issue to Australian SAS troops.

CR1M. The CR1M contained one full day’s food supply, consisting of a mix of canned and dried foods packed in a large plastic bag. The ration came in five menus (‘A’ – ‘E’), each containing two canned main meal items, a side dish, a good selection of snacks and beverage mixes, plus accessories. Each ration pack weighed approximately 2 kg. Standard contents of the CR-1M consisted of:

• 2 x canned main meal items (breakfast and dinner)
• 1 x breakfast bar (cereal & fruit)
• 4 x survival biscuits (hard, thick, square so-called ‘dog biscuits’)
• 4 x sweet biscuits
• 1 x 50gm chocolate bar
• 4 x chewing gum
• 1 x roll lollies
• 4 x pkt milk powder (or 1 x tube of condensed milk, depending on date of issue)
• 2 x tea bags
• 2 x pkt instant coffee
• 12 x pkt sugar
• 1 x pkt salt
• 1 x pkt pepper
• 2 x pouches fruit drink powder (orange & lemon)

Each pack also contained an accessory pack containing:

• 1 x combination can opener/spoon
• 2 x rubber bands
• 1 x scouring pad
• 1 x book matches
• latrine paper
• plastic bag
• menu/instruction sheet

The five menu choices (main meal items) were:

• Menu A: Camp Pie (luncheon meat), Beef with vegetables, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu B: Corned beef hash, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu C: Camp Pie, Beef & Onions, curry powder, precooked rice
• Menu D: Spaghetti with meat balls, Camp Pie, instant potato with onions, beef soup powder
• Menu E: Ham Omelette, Tuna, Canned Fruit, instant potato with onion, tomato soup powder

The theoretical daily caloric intake required by an infantryman weighing 70 kg (154 lb.) and aged between 18 and 35 is 3,300 cal (13,800 kj). The Australian CR1M provided between 3,142 and 3,843 cal (13,150 kj – 16,000 kj) according to variety. However, it was found during various trials and studies that, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, intake averaged about 2,000 cal daily.

While this looks alarming, both Australian and British studies dating back to World War II and continuing through the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation in Borneo showed it was not actually significant provided loss of body mass due to caloric expenditure exceeding caloric intake is not so gross as to affect physical performance, and provided rehabilitation subsequently takes place (i.e. the depleted digger is fed up back in base when not on operations).
As discussed above under the heading of ‘C’ Rations, Australian soldiers were regularly issued with a mix of Australian CR1M and US ‘C’ Rations. Theoretically CR1M/‘C’ Rations were supposed to be issued on a 50%-50% ratio however, records show that in January 1967 the ratio was actually 40%-60%. This is borne out by monthly reports of ration issues for the period May to December 1967 the ration issue figures for this period were as shown in the next table.

May June July August September October November December
CR1M 6,440 8,144 15,635 14,756 18,125 10,480 16,810 6,440
‘C’ Rations 20,358 30,366 20,994 58,906 46,632 43,252 67,808 20,358
Ratio - CR1M:‘C’ Rations 25:75 20:80 40:60 20:80 30:70 20:80 20:80 20:80


Note that issues of CR1M were never greater than issue of ‘C’ Rations. These ratios are possibly misleading. Discussions with veterans who served in Vietnam as infantrymen strongly indicate that the Australian CR1M was the predominant ration pack issued to them in the field, with the US ‘C’ Ration being a minority issue. This strongly suggests (although this is supposition only) that ‘C’ Rations were issued in greater numbers to personnel in static locations, such as fire support bases, or to vehicle mounted personnel, especially armoured corps, who had less of an issue in carrying the bulky American rations.

Issue of ‘C’ Rations to infantrymen in the field usually resulted in frenzied ‘stripping’ as unwanted, un-needed or just plain un-liked items were discarded, often accompanied by a ‘pig out’ on better items that were still considered too big and bulky to carry.

When issued with the CR1M/‘C’ Rations, troops were also issued with packets of solid fuel hexamine tablets and a folding metal ‘hexy stove’ to heat water and rations. Hexamine is a marvelous compound which can be lit even when wet and a single tablet will easily heat a full steel canteen mug of water to boiling point in less than ten minutes. The folding stove issued to Australian troops in Vietnam, which was designed to contain a waxed cardboard package of 24 hexamine tablets when folded for carry, was superior to the American issue item.

Another item beloved of the Australian soldier in Vietnam (and both envied and coveted by American soldiers) was the Australian issued can opener, affectionately referred to as the ‘flaming (ahem) ridiculous eating device’ or ‘FRED’. Bigger, and thus easier to use than the US issued P-38 can opener, FRED also featured an integral spoon at the end of the handle, which its American equivalent lacked.

CR10M. The CR10M was one of the first indigenously developed and produced Australian combat ration items, being first issued in 1958. There were four menus and the pack consisted of two sleeves (5 men) containing canned meat, fruit, vegetables and supplementary items (condiments) for group cooking in echelons or bases. The ration was theoretically supplemented with fresh bread, however, shortages or other issues often predicated the replacement of bread with the ubiquitous ‘dog biscuit’, large, fairly hard cracker biscuits, supplied in white, waxed paper packages of 10 biscuits.

The meat portion of the ration included such selections as spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, sausages and beans, and braised beef and onion. Vegetable selections (canned) included red kidney beans, boiled potatoes, green beans, and peas. Breakfast items included ham omelette, beef omelette, sausages and beans, and oatmeal. Sweet items included rich fruit cake and sticky date pudding. Dehydrated rice, concentrated butter (canned), sweet biscuits, powdered soup and powdered fruit drink were also included and later versions included dehydrated mashed potato in place of the tinned variety. Sundries included tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, salt, curry powder, Vegemite, matches, toilet paper, can openers, etc. The sundries were packed in a high, rectangular can and this was a highly prized ‘jack’ item as it made a very handy water and vermin proof storage container for personal items.

The CR10M was, for all intents and purposes, the Australian equivalent of the US ‘B’ Ration. It was never intended for issue to troops on mobile operations and, to the best of the author’s knowledge, never was, except when used as the base for hot-box meals. Its use was restricted to the main kitchens at Nui Dat and Vung Tau to supplement or eke out fresh rations and at isolated fire support bases and patrol bases with semi-fixed kitchens. When utilised at 1 ATF and 1 ALSG the CR10M would be supplemented with such additional items (if available) as fresh bread, eggs, fresh fruit, tinned fruit juice and fresh milk.

Although not highly regarded when one was forced to utilise the contents of the CR10M oneself (bully beef stew with red kidney beans anyone?), when in the hands of the professional cooks of the AACC the contents could at least be rendered relatively palatable.

CR1M Lightweight. The fact that a soldier’s combat load may be effectively lightened by reducing the amount of food carried is common knowledge, as it is the usual practice to discard a proportion of combat rations before embarking on a patrol or exercise. Investigations conducted into the quantity of food actually carried by Australian servicemen whilst engaged in operational patrols in Borneo revealed that of 64 rations analyzed, 72 per cent provided less than 2,500 calories (1,060 kj) and 40 per cent provided 2,000 cal (8370 kj) or less.

This led to the trial development of the Combat Ration One Man, Lightweight, or CR1M-L. The ‘lightweight’ was largely achieved by replacing tinned, wet rations with freeze-dried, foil packaged meals.

During the trial of the CR1M-L in Vietnam, the caloric value of the ration actually consumed, after allowing for rejected and unconsumed food, was 1,980 cal (8,285 kj) daily.

As a preliminary experiment, an officer from the Army Food Science Establishment took part in a 14-day patrol in New Guinea in September 1966 during which a ration providing 1,600 cal (6,695 kj) daily was used. There was a fairly high level of energy expenditure throughout and rations were carried for 6, 4 and 4 days (there were two re-supplies by air drop). A ten per cent body weight loss was sustained but there was no apparent falling off in physical efficiency. This was interesting, as it has been suggested that in young men there is a falling off in performance when body weight loss reaches 8-10 per cent.

The following year during the Vietnam trial 30 subjects were provided with rations which provided 1,500 cal (6,276 kj) daily, whilst being actively employed. After allowing for unconsumed food, the average caloric intake was 1,366 cal (range 1,331 to 1,388—average 5,715 kj range 5,568 kj to 5,807 kj). Physiological measurements of physical performance of the subjects showed a significant increase over the period of the trial. This may have been due to weight loss (average 4 per cent) in subjects who may have been slightly overweight at the beginning of the trial, or to actual improvement due to the activity during the trial. Whatever the explanation, the most significant finding was that there was no deterioration over the ten-day period with an actual intake of 1,400 cal (5,857 kj) per man daily.

Additional trials were conducted under simulated operational conditions in Malaysia, with rations providing 1,500 calories per man daily. Apart from being in a realistic environment, the trial was enlarged to include two ten-day low caloric rationing periods, separated by a recovery period of seven days. The findings of the original trial were confirmed, but a further interesting point which emerged was that the relationship between body weight loss and performance score during the second period was almost statistically significant, in that the greater the body weight loss the poorer the performance score. This indicates that the caloric intake in relation to the work load and recovery period could not have been reduced much further without performance falling off.

The CR1M-L contained two foil packaged, dehydrated main meal items, a single packet of hard biscuits (as opposed to two packets in the CR1M), a single packet of sweet biscuits, a small tin of cheese, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, lollies, a plastic spoon, toilet paper and a rubber band (for resealing the ration pack bag).

In terms of calories, 1,500 calories was found to represent the smallest ration which could be envisaged for use for periods or up to ten days. In terms of weight, the prototype CR1M-L represented a saving of at least eight ounces (226.8 gm) per 24 hours period compared with the standard CR1M at 24 ounces (680.4 gm), the CR1M weight calculation based on food actually consumed and excluding food unconsumed or discarded.

The two major drawbacks of the CR1M-L were the need for additional water to rehydrate the freeze-dried main meal items and the cost of the new ration, $1.93 for the CR1M-L as against $1.38 for the CR1M. Water was generally not an issue during the wet season when free flowing, clean water was abundant however, it became an issue during the dry season. As noted in the section on US Army LRP, most ground water sources in Vietnam were heavily contaminated with harmful bacteria and could only be consumed after either being thoroughly boiled or heavily treated with water purification tablets.

Interviews with a number of Vietnam veterans indicate that the CR1M-L was never on general issue in Vietnam. The Australian soldier would have to wait for the commencement of the ‘Long Peace’ following the end of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam to experience the ‘joys’ of the CR1M-L.

Pacific Islands Regiment Patrol Ration. There is some evidence that the ‘Patrol Ration, Pacific Islands Regiment’ was issued in small quantities to Australian SAS troops in Vietnam. The Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR—now the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment, RPIR) was originally raised in 1944 as an umbrella unit for battalions of locally recruited troops from the Australian territories of Papua and New Guinea. Disbanded after World War II the regiment was re-raised in 1951, originally a single battalion and then later two, as the core of the Australian Army garrison in Papua New Guinea (PNG) PIR would form the basis of the armed forces of the newly independent PNG in 1975. Local troops were originally commanded totally by white Australian officers, warrant officers and sergeants but the number of these expatriate personnel steadily decreased as locally enlisted personnel worked their way up the promotion ladder or received commissions from the Australian Army’s Officer Cadet School.

One of the main roles of the PIR in the 1950s and 1960s was ‘showing the flag’ nation building operations, which consisted of lengthy foot patrols (a 14 day patrol was considered ‘short’) throughout the length and breadth of PNG. Even with aerial resupply (either by RAAF or chartered civil aircraft) and local purchase of fruit and vegetables from native gardens, rations created an immense burden on these long marches and a special lightweight ration was developed for the PIR. The original PIR Ration, trialed in 1965, came in four varieties and consisted of various canned meat or fish, dehydrated beef bars, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas or cabbage), rice, biscuits, milk, tea, coffee and sugar.

A second trial was carried out in 1966 with the ration now consisting of the canned main meal selections, vegetable blocks, fruit candies, rice, biscuits, chocolate, curry powder, milk, sugar, tea and coffee. Significantly, this trial used a mixed group of PIR and SAS personnel as the test group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the second iteration of the PIR Patrol Ration was issued in small quantities to SAS in Vietnam and proved popular.

British Long Range Patrol Ration. On 11 January 1967 the 1 COY RAASC war diary records the receipt of ‘1,038 British Long Range Patrol Rations from Singapore, for issue to 3 SAS SQN.’

This is the only mention of this type of ration that has been located and finding official information on the ration has proved impossible, despite queries as far away as the UK.

In the history of 4 RAR in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation author Brian Avery records:

From all of this, it would seem that the British Long Range Patrol Ration had been developed for use in Borneo during Confrontation and that the packs consisted of freeze-dried or dehydrated meat items, plus rice or noodles, packed in foil envelopes and accompanied by the usual sundries.
It is significant to note that 1 SAS SQN, which had served in Borneo and thus would have had experience with British lightweight patrol rations, replaced 3 SAS SQN in February 1967. It is possible that the consignment of British Long Range Patrol Rations had been specifically acquired at the request of 1 SQN prior to its deployment (this is supposition only).


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