Red Cross Parcels

This is an interesting site as it refers to events of the war on ‘this day’ back then. I was interested to read about the food parcels etc in the section titled: THE SUPERIOR QUALITY OF BRITISH RATIONS.

Dad wrote about the parcels in his book:

We had the same ration allowance as non-working Germans, which was just about at subsistence level.  That allowance was one fifth of a loaf of their black bread a day, plus small allowances of margarine and jam.  The tea and coffee substances were made from various leaves and nuts, etc, but, as they went into the camp cookhouse I never knew just what it amounted to.  A portion of tinned meat, plus some pork was issued straight into the camp kitchens to be included with whatever was being prepared.  We would have found it difficult to exist if it were not for the Red Cross food parcels.  The main source of supply was from Britain, although parcels from Canada and America came in later.  Each parcel weighed 10 pounds, and the issues should have been one per person a week.  As distribution was by rail from the International Headquarters in Geneva, and the German railways system received the attentions of Bomber Command, regular issues could not be relied on.

 Most Kregies, of whatever nationality, preferred the English parcels because they were not standardised, whilst others were and it was known exactly what was in the Canadian parcels, and the same could be said of the American ones.  Every English parcel contained certain known standards such as a tin of butter, packs of sugar cubes, tea and a tin of sweetened condensed milk.  There were always two tins of meat and, maybe, a tin of sardines or kippers etc.  The meat could well be a stew of some sort, but there was always one of a solid meat.  Tins of biscuits were also a regular, and there were always a couple of ‘afters’ in the form of tinned pudding, rice puddings etc. Bacon in tins and dried egg powder and tinned vegetables were also fairly regular items.   We always looked forward to special parcels, such as for Christmas, when they would include Christmas cake and Christmas pudding and, possibly, seasonal meat.  It was almost a lucky dip, and it was possible to swap for items a person might not like, or if one was wanted for a special occasion.  The Canadian and American parcels contained nourishing contents, but there was no way to vary meals to any great extent.  Both Canadian and American parcels contained cigarettes, whereas the English sent their ration of cigarettes in a vacuum packed tin of fifty.  One brand that surprised us was the Woodbine brand.  For consumption at home they were smaller and cheaper than the standard size, and were known as ‘coffin nails’.  Those made for the Forces were full size and of a superior blend, and packed for any kind of climate in tins sealed with solder.

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