Canned Rations

Posted by Anders Hudson on June 20, 2013 in Rations and Supply |

Generally speaking German filed rations were considerably different than that of other nations. The time honored battle tested method of using field kitchens at a company level with local assets supplementing provost logistics may not have always worked, but it was comfortable. Entire companies in 1945 surrendered with their field kitchens in tow, six years of fighting with a horse drawn double boiler not unlike those used over a hundred years earlier.


It’s main drawback was that as German forces became more mechanized, so did the fighting forces ability to “out run” their logistical supply, making field kitchens totally dependent on local assets. A failure that the Soviets took full advantage of.

The OKW experimented with various kinds of iron rations that were to be used if the company level kitchen was more than 24 hours out from service.  Officers could giver permission to open the iron ration and provide a single meal. The Ration was similar to the hard rations of the US but without the frills of candies, drink mix or tobacco. It contained a ration of Knäckebrot, zweibeck or some other kind of dense dry bread, and some kind of canned meat of which there were also a bevy of substitutions. Originally a specific canned pork was issued, but later many German civilian as well as captured cans from other countries were used.

Eventually a plan was hatched to try to track and account for these canned goods, and the OKW began to pack more “army issue” ration supplement cans.
These rations were packed in black enamel steel cans. While this method of storage was reported by the OKW as “favorable” actual reports of the quality of the storage were to the contrary. Even with perfect storage under cover, cans stored this way were given a shelf life of eight months. Cans examined at the 1st German army substance depot at Eckstein near Markt Grafing noted that many cans marked as having been produced in November had already become badly rusted by the following June.
Save for a manufacture date stamp and a coded contents mark, these cans were simply black to grey-green enamel. Without the code list, their contents were luck of the draw.

The majority of the known code list is as follows-


Bachi Preserved ham (for hot regions)
BW Sausage (beef and pork)
BWC Sausage with cereal (Soya)
SR Sausage with cereal (soya-rye)
SM Sausage with cereal (soya-corn)
R Sausage with cereal (rye)
Blw Blood pudding sausage
C Corned beef
Flr Frankfurters
CB or KB Roast goose or roast chicken
HR Mutton Stew
HF Chicken fricassee
JW Sausage (beef and pork, smoked)
KbR Veal-beef
KbS Veal-pork
KF Veal fricassee
Lw Liverwurst
BGu Beef stew
RP Pickled beef
R Beef
RS Beef-pork
Rlw Beef-liverwurst
Schi Preserved ham
Schm Lard
Schmf. Fat pork
S Pork
Sp Pickled pork
SKG Pig’s brains
WR Game stew
Sausages, preserved


Mixed meats and vegetables


gr BOH String beans with potatoes and mutton
gr BS String beans with potatoes pickled pork
gr BR String beans with potatoes and beef
BOR Beans with potatoes and beef
BOS Beans with potatoes and pickled pork
fri KrbaS Green peas with potatoes and pork
KrbaS Peas with potatoes and ham
GrpR Peeled barley with beef
HiR Millet with beef
HuGrp Chicken with peeled barley and tomatoes
HuW Chicken with cabbage, cereals and tomatoes
KbSs Veal with rice and wine sauce
KRGu Potatoes with dumplings and beef stew
Kapü Kassler with lentils
KOS Rutabaga with potatoes and pork
LiS Lentils with potatoes and ham
HOS Carrots with potatoes and ham
NuRGu Noodles with beef stew
RsR Rice and beef
RNu Beef, noodles and tomatoes
RGu Hö Beef stew with noodles and potatoes
WKoR Cabbage with potatoes and beef
WiKoR Savoy cabbage with potatoes and beef

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