The british 24-Hour Ration kit (2 sets) $5

24 hour ration (a) repro

The British 24-Hour Ration kit consisting of two sets each so you can make two ration boxes. Each set has a top and bottom part with a creased cardboard insert (the grey cardboard strip) and an instruction sheet.

24hour ration

Introduced in late 1943, these were issued to invasion troops as a stop gap measure for the first one or two days until the larger “Compo” Rations or food prepared by the field kitchen could be issued. Two of these boxes were issued to the soldiers who were to make the Normandy landings (both seaborne and airborne troops).

Picture right: An official publication photo of the British 24-Hour Ration with its contends. Note the instruction sheet next to the box.

About 20 years ago I made a bunch for a friend of mine. These were printed on brown kraft cardboard and, when waxed, realy looked the part. So much so that one is on display at the Pegasus Airborne museum in Normandy! Due to frequent requests to reproduce the British 24-Hour Ration I decided to give it a go again and dusted off the one repro box I still kept all these years. (And found out that it did not quite fit the larger mess tin!)

Since originals are very rare and I don’t know anybody who has one. I based the dimensions of these new reproduction kit on the reproduction one I made years ago, info I found in books and the internet, and advice from friends. (The dimensions are approximately 5 x 6 x 2.5 inch.) These new reproductions now do fit the larger mess tin!
This time I used grey cardboard (the same I used for the K Ration cartons), but printed the outside all over with brown ink. When waxed with paraffin, they look really good, I think.

24 hour ration (b) repro

The British 24-Hour Ration kit. The box sealed with white tape is coated with paraffin and appears slighly darker.

This kit consists of two sets. Each set has a top and bottom part. The top part is labeled “24 Hour Ration (instructions within)” and the bottom is labeled with the bogus company name “Holland Food Co., Ltd.” with the year 1944.
There’s a strip of heavy cardboard with creases that, when folded,  fits the inner circumfence of the top and bottom and is inserted in the bottom, there by forming a box with the top part serving as a lid. After filling the box, the top and bottom are secured with tape running around the sides to seal the seam. I don’t know if this tape was made of paper or fabric. It could be either one of them. For easier assembly you could use white paper masking tape. After sealing the box you should wax the whole box just like the K Rations inner carton.

eating the ration in the field 2

Although blurry, it appears that the soldier just openend a 24-Hour Ration. Photos of this ration in field use are extremely rare.

large 000000 (1) copy 2

There’s also an instruction sheet for the soldier on what to use for a meal and how to prepare the food. This leaflet is placed inside the box with the food items. This leaflet is copied from an original instruction sheet dated October 1943, but I labeled it "4-44 H.F. [Holland Food] Co. Ltd." at the bottom.

24 hour ration fits repro

The contens of this ration changed little from its introduction in 1943 until late 1944 or early 1945 when the contents were changed and tinned items were added, becoming the equal of the newly introduced tinned jungle ration (pictured right).

The ration box not only fits the large mess tin, but also the carrier of the water bottle. Below is a picture of a glider trooper who appears to be carrying his ration box in this manner.

ration in water bottle holdder

Although almost obscured by a sunflower, the trooper holding an American "handy talkie” radio has a 24-Hour Ration secured in a water bottle carrier (indicated by the red arrow). Holland, September 1944.

A (near) future project will be the correct wrappings for its contents. Although quite simple in design, I need to figure out the sizings of the wrappers. The chocolate bars are wrapped in plain glassine paper. That’s the easiest part. All the other wrappings are, I think, plain brown kraft paper with just the words MEAT, TEA, OATMEAL and SALT printed on it.

To be continued…