Tag Archives: Military

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.

Advertisements

Book Review: “Weird War 2”

51g+j-uvqXL

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”

5168aw8YehL._SY346_

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”

41Z8Kw3ghXL

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.

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.

Short World War II Era Film “Kanonenfutter (Cannon Fodder)”

Short FilmsWWII – I came across the short (14:33) World War II era film “Kanonenfutter” (cannon fodder) yesterday. The film was posted to YouTube in November of 2015 by Giant Stone Pictures, an independent filmmaking group in Northern Germany. The synopsis:

The story of a young Wehrmacht soldier in the WWII, over which the horror in the trenches falls. Will he survive?

The film is dark, almost looking Black and While. Most of the dialog is in German, but with English subtitles. The plot is not hard to follow. It is not a bad production, but the fact that no shell casings are ejected by any of the weapons distracts from the production.


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 – Fort Canning and the Battlebox

WWII – Near where I am living in Singapore (Where is Singapore?) is Fort Canning Hill. It is not a very tall hill, less than 160′ in height. A fort was completed on top of the hill in 1861 to defend the harbor. In the early 1900s, the fort was torn down and a 30-room bunker system dug into the hill. The bunker complex was completed in 1938. The bunker served as the headquarters for the British during the defense of Singapore. After the British surrendered to the Japanese, they used the bunker system as well.

Today, Fort Canning Hill has become Fort Canning Park and the bunker system opened in  1992 as the tourist attraction, “The Battlebox”. About the only things left from the old fort are the entrance and one of the old cannons.

As it turns out, the park is a short walk from our apartment in Singapore. I walked over there a short time ago and purchased tickets for the Battlebox tour and spent a little time wandering around the park. The park is 180,000 square meters (a little less than 0.07 square miles).

There are several walking trails through the park and as with everything in Singapore, it is very green.

While walking through the park makes you feel like you are outside the city, you are in the center of southern Singapore.

IMG_1738

My original reason for going to Fort Canning Park was to check out The Battlebox. The Battlebox is located at 2 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179622 inside of Fort Canning Park. The tours last about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Tickets are $18 and $9 for children 7-12 (those rates are in Singapore dollars). The Battlebox is considered to be one of the top museum destinations in Singapore.

I have to say that I enjoyed the tour. Unfortunately, they do not allow photos inside the bunker itself. Above are two of the entrances to the Battlebox complex. As you might expect, the bunker was much cooler than the outside air. Temperatures in Singapore during the day typically range 80-90F. The humidity though is usually around 60% or higher. It was a pleasant relief to enter the bunker.

While I could not take photos, I did find that were photos of the Battlebox without restrictions for use via Google search. I am including some of those above to show what the bunker currently looks like. Several manikins are in place in uniforms of 1942. Several are made up to closely represent the officers that were present just before Singapore was surrendered to the Japanese.

The surrender of Singapore to the Japanese so early in World War II (February 15, 1942) was a great blow to the British. With the surrender, 120,000 men – the largest capitulation in British military history – became prisoners of war.

If you are ever in Singapore and have a couple of hours to spare, I recommend taking the Battlebox tour.

= = =

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.


See my other Food & Locations articles


 

Trailer for “Air Strike”

TrailersWWII – The new WWII era movie “Air Strike” (AKA “Unbreakable Spirit”) will be in theaters this October in the US. The synopsis per IMDB:

During World War II, five different Chinese people fight their way through Japanese Air Force attacks to protect an important military machine in Chongqing, 1940.

It is hard to tell much about this film from the trailer. Certainly, it implies a lot of action in the film. This is a Chinese film with both English and Chinese dialog, though it looks like the Chinese voices are dubbed into English for the version released in the US.


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.