jedburgh 1944

A "confidential" specification for Ration, Type X was issued early in 1944. This ration was intended as an assault-type item to be issued to troops "just before or during invasion." Components were K biscuits, chocolate or D bars, bouillon powder, soluble coffee, fruit bars, sugar, gum, hard candy, canned meat, and multi-vitamin tablets. Packaging designated a partial assembly of components in a water-vapor-resistant box. The entire ration was packed in a wax-dipped or wax-paper-wrapped carton.
The theme of secrecy was carried out in the labeling requirements which stated that "there shall be no labels, printing, or identifying marks of any kind on any packaging materials for this ration nor on any component parts of the ration." It was reported that 600,000 rations were procured in December 1943 and an additional 250,000 in December 1944.
No results of tests or field experiences are contained in the records, probably because the participation of SR&DL was limited to preparing the packaging requirements for the specification. The X ration may have some claim to being a predecessor of the Assault Lunch in purpose but there the resemblance ends.
This "confidential" item proved to be one of the rations of World War II which was developed for a special purpose and then disappeared.

The name "Ration, Type X" seems appropriate since there is nothing more known about it than the text above written by the Quartermaster Corps in a post-war study published in 1958.

The phrases “intended as an assault-type item” and “just before or during invasion” suggest that Ration X was developed as an assault lunch. This, however, is misleading. Since this ration is basically a simplified K Ration, it would not make any sense to add yet another ration to the overburdened production and distribution lines.

Ration Type X

Ration, Type X. All components are the same as can be found in the K ration, but all labels are left blank. Note the use of the earlier rectangular “spam” can.

Why the absence of labels? If this would be issued to assault troops with the intention to keep the identity of the troops secret it would fail big time. All the uniforms, gear, vehicles, ships, planes and everything else would clearly identify the attacking force as American. Surely the Germans and Japanese weren’t that stupid!

We can only speculate on the intended use of this "secret” ration. It does resemble the earlier bail-out ration developed by the USAAF.
Due to the blank packagings, its use could have been intended for allied personnel that were dropped in occupied territory, like the Jedburgh or other OSS teams. This ration then could be used in case of emergency when the agents wouldn’t be able to contact the resistance directly upon landing.
The photo at the top show two Jedburgh operatives dressed in civilian clothing underneath their British Denison smocks. It would make sense for them not to carry any objects identifying them as allied “spies”.
This is all speculation on my side, of course. Unless new documents are found we will never know for sure.

Early experimental USAAF bail-out ration. The X Ration was probably modelled after this type of ration. The bouillon envelope appears “secretive”, but it's just the back we’re looking at. Coincidentally the chewing gum is missing its label band here.

As the text indicates, the X Ration was produced in two runs so it appears that they were considered a succes after the first use and additional were ordered, totalling 850,000 rations.

According to a footnote of the post-war study only eight copies of the QMC tentive specifications CQD 171 were published on February 2, 1944. These copies were considered “confidential” and probably only issued to the procurement agencies and prime contractor.

It is strange, however, that the first procurement was done in December 1943, before the above mentioned specifications. It is possible that the February 2, 1944 specifications are an amendment on earlier specifications, or that the first production run of 600,000 rations was on experimental basis after which the specifications were standardised for follow-up orders.  That follow-up and final order was only for 250,000 rations one year later. 

Due to the secretive nature of this ration there are no records of any tests (if it was tested at all) or of its use on missions.

X Ration (b)

Front and back of the internal packaging.
From left to right there are two types of rectangular biscuits, a fruit bar and a chocolate bar. Alongside these is a roll of hard candies with three sugar tablets placed on top and one tablet across its end.
All labels on the individual components are blank, even the biscuits aren’t marked in any way. The small pill next to the envelope of bouillon powder is the vitamin tablet.

X Ration (c)

I bought this peculiar ration a few years ago because of the resemblance to the K Ration. First I took it for an experimental bail out ration. The absence of any labeling intrigued me, but I couldn't figure why. Only when I read the above text about the “X Ration” it all made sense.

IMG 0484

For illustration purposes is layed out the X Ration using regular K Ration components  (minus the vitamin tablet) exept for the can.