24-Hour Rations

A box of rations carried by a soldier serving during the Second World War

24-Hour rations were an individual ration pack that contained very high energy values.

They were light weight (due to their paper and cardboard packaging) and were typically only issued under special circumstances where normal supply lines might not be available. During the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944 British soldiers were issued with two packs per man and these were intended to sustain them until the delivery of Composition rations could be arranged.

Composition or “Compo” rations as they were better known were a wooden crate containing enough food for 14 men for a single day. There were seven basic menus distributed in crates labelled A to G with the idea in theory being there was a different one for every day of the week. Some of the basic meals contained in the various crates included stewed lamb, pork and vegetables, steak and vegetables, beef and kidney with gravy, oxtail and beans, and salmon.

Haversack rations in the form of sandwiches and pies placed inside a mess tin or a rations bag could also be occasionally issued for troops on the move. Emergency rations were also issues in the form of a sealed tin containing approximately 170 grams of vitamin-enriched chocolate. It was only to be consumed when no other food was available and when orders to do so were received.




A small box containing enough rations for one person for 24 hours. These rations contained biscuits, porridge, tea, sugar, milk (powdered), dehydrated meat, chocolate with raisins, vitamin-enriched chocolate, boiled sweets, chewing gum, meat broth, salt, 4 sheets of toilet paper and instructions for use.

Did you know?

A 24-Hour ration pack weighed about 1100 grams and contained approximately 4000 calories.