Category Archives: WWII

Chocolate Went to War

Fight on a chocolate diet

WWII – The ad above I saw in a Twitter post from @ArchivistWWII caught my interest. I did a little quick investigation and found that chocolate has been in use by the military for many years.

For instance, chocolate was a common ration for both Mayan and Aztec warriors. Further, in 1757 during the French and Indian War, the French officers of Fort Ticonderoga issued two pounds of chocolate to energize their troops. Many other instances are noted of how chocolate was used over the years to provide troops with an easily portable high energy food [1].

As trouble stirred in Europe, the US military began to look ahead to the conflict they felt was sure to draw in their troops. Experience told them that soldiers on the front lines would not have access to field kitchens. Somehow food would have to be delivered to these troops. In 1937 chocolate came to the mind of Captain Paul Logan of the office of the U.S. Army Quartermaster General to solve this problem, and he approached the Hershey Chocolate Corporation. He asked them to develop a chocolate bar emergency ration that could meet the conditions of the military in the field [2,8].

Logan had some unusual requirements [2,3]:

  1. bars were to weight 4 oz
  2. withstand high temperatures (120F)
  3. taste a little better than a boiled potato

serveimageThe result was the Field Ration D bar. These bars were made from a thick paste of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, oat flour, powdered milk, and vitamins. Most important to the military, they delivered a full 600 calories per serving [2,3]. Each bar was wrapped in foil, then three packaged together and wrapped in a parchment packet. The packet would supply the soldier with 1800 calories, their recommended daily sustenance allowance [8].

In mid-1937 the Army ordered 90,000 D ration bars for testing [8]. Considering the test successful, the army ordered more. In January of 1942, the army ordered 300,000 more of the four-ounce D Ration bars. While these bars met the criteria set out by Captain Logan they were not received well by all. Many troops detested their bitter taste and discarded them rather than eat them [3,4,8]. Many soldiers gave them the nickname “Hitler’s secret weapon” due to their disliking of the bars [2]. Many who ate them said that they would have even preferred the boiled potato instead of the D ration bars [3].

Others actually liked the bars and would trade other rations for more. They were also distributed widely to civilians as US troops displaced the German forces in Europe and North Africa [7]. Part of the dislike came from the tough to chew bars. Many soldiers took to grating the chocolate, turning it into small pieces, so they could more easily chew it [3]. Officially the problem was attributed to stale bars eaten too quickly. These bars were meant to be eaten in small pieces over time. Instructions on the early boxes of the D Ration even stated that the bars were to be eaten slowly over a halfhour period.[5]

They had to be of some success as between 1940 and 1945, an estimated 3 billion units of the specially formulated candy bars were distributed to soldiers around the world [8]. By the end of the war, Hershey alone had won five awards for production and quality while making 40.2 million 2-ounce and 4-ounce D Ration bars, and 380 million Tropical Chocolate Bars [5]. In fact, during the war years, the bulk of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation production was dedicated to the military.

In 1943 Hershey developed the slightly better tasting Tropical Bar. As the name implied it was targeted at soldiers in the Pacific Theater. In spite of their efforts, the soldiers did not find these much better than the original bars [2,4].

When the more than 160,000 US troops landed in France on D-Day, chocolate was with them, sustaining them during the first days of combat [6].

 

References

  1. A Salute to Chocolate
  2. Ration D-day: Chocolate’s role in Warfare
  3. World War II: The chocolate’s role in obtaining the victory
  4. The Wartime Chocolate Bar You Don’t Want to Eat
  5. CHOCOLATE! THE WARS SECRET WEAPON
  6. D-Day Rations: How Chocolate Helped Win the War
  7. “Chocolate is a Fighting Food!” – Chocolate bars in the Second World War
  8. United States military chocolate

If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

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Book Review: “Weird War 2”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Wierd War 2” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Richard Denham. Mr. Denham has published seven books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains some scenes of Violence. The book is a collection of short (one to two page) non-fiction stories about World War II.

I spent an interesting 5 hours reading this 176-page book of strange non-fiction tales. I was hoping for more of the unusual. Unfortunately, I had heard most of the stories collected in this book before. This might be a good book for someone just getting interested in that period, particularly for a young adult because of the short story structure. The cover art is a good choice for this book. I give this book a 3.4 (rounded down to a 3) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Book Review: “Ike and Monty”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Ike and Monty” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Norman Gelb. Mr. Gelb has published nearly a dozen non-fiction books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The book covers the entire period of World War II, focusing on the European Theater of Operations in general and on Generals Dwight David Eisenhower and Bernard Law Montgomery in particular.

This book examines both of these major figures from the war in depth. A fair assessment is given to both their strengths and weaknesses. Both made significant contributions to the Allied war effort, but each had their faults. This book is an interesting look at what was happening behind the headlines and how these allies were often at odds with one another.

I enjoyed the 13 hours I spent reading this 413-page history of World War II. This was an easy to read history. Certainly, I learned a lot about the politics and the conflicts between the Allies during the War. I think the cover art is a good choice. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Book Review – “Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II”

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Book Reviews – “Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II” eBook was published in 2018 (November) and was written by James Holland. Mr. Holland is author or co-author of 13 non-fiction books and nine novels.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book covers the air war in Europe from mid-1943 until mid-1944.

While the focus is on the overall strategy of both the Allies and Germans during this period of time, there are also several side stories of individuals from both sides of the conflict. It addresses how the large egos interfered with good decisions with both sides.

Some time is spent looking at Hitler and his indecisiveness which prevented the German engineering establishment from developing new weapons in a timely manner. Germany entered the war with the ME-109 in 1939. It was still flying it in 1945. The Allies had developed and deployed a series of ever better fighters over that same period. During that same period, the German pilots were coming out of flight school with fewer and fewer hours compared to the American pilots.

This all led up to the “Big Week” when Allied air forces bombed Germany day and night for a solid week. The biggest air battle of World War II that gave the Allies air superiority for D-Day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 12 hours I spent reading this 400-page non-fiction book. I found this book to be very readable, not just dry facts and figures. I certainly learned a few things about the air forces of both sides. I think that the cover art is well chosen. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Coffee at War

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WWIICoffee – I saw this advertisement from 1943 sent out on Twitter by @ArchivistWWII today. I thought that it tied in with the post on coffee rationing I made a short time ago. I guess the 20:1 ratio was important during those times of conservation and shortage, but I don’t see anything in that ad that talks about how great the flavor was. I guess that something hot and tasting close to coffee was better than nothing in that time of hardship.

This is only one of the many advertisements that @ArchivistWWII has posted on Twitter from the War years.


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Singapore, Singapore​ – The Cenotaph

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LocationsWWII – I had read about The Cenotaph while looking for historical sites on Singapore related to World War II. Yesterday my walk along the Western part of the Singapore River Walk took me to Esplanade Park where it is located.

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The park is located on the Marina Bay waterfront just north of the mouth of the Singapore River in downtown Singapore.

The Cenotaph in Singapore was built in the early 1920s. It was dedicated on March 31, 1922, to recognize the 124 British soldiers who were born or resident in Singapore and who gave their lives in World War I.

After World War II inscriptions were added (as shown in the photo) on the reverse side of the monument in remembrance of those who died in World War II. Notice that the steps leading up to the monument are engraved with the years of the war 1939-1945.


See my other Food & Location articles


 

Short WWII Era Film “Remember the Fallen”

Short FilmsWWII – I came across the excellent short (16:08) World War II era film “Remember the Fallen” today. The film was uploaded to YouTube in September of 2016 by Julien G, though the film was made in 2014. The synopsis:

A French veteran of World War II remembers a particular day of his life…

This is a very well done film and tells a very good story. While it is a French film, there is no dialog. The film has won many awards and has a rating of 8.3/10 on IMDB. I think that most anyone would find this an enjoyable film.


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

WWII Eastern Front 1942

WWII – I have read quite a bit about World War II, but I am not very familiar with the Eastern Front. I came across this short (13:03) animated map of the second year of Germany’s drive into Russia and found it very informative. It is a sequel to a similar video of the 1941 campaign.


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

WWII Eastern Front 1941

WWII – I have read quite a bit about World War II, but I am not very familiar with the Eastern Front. I came across this short (9:50) animated map of the first year of Germany’s drive into Russia and found it very informative.

See how the Eastern Front campaign continues in 1942.


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

“Victory at Sea” on Vimeo

WWIIShort Films – As a kid, I remember watching the “Victory at Sea” series on TV. The Black & White documentary series consisted of only 26 episodes, each about 25 minutes long. The episodes featured award-winning musical soundtracks and were made up of a lot of combat film footage shot during World War II.

Now, these episodes can be viewed on Vimeo on the Remember When Classic Movie (RWCM) channel.

This is just one of the videos available.


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.