The Davenport New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 10, No. 9, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 11, 1918 Page: 4 of 12
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Bv An American Arthur Guy Empey
Soldier Who Went Machine Gunner, Serving in France
Copyright 19". *>T Arthur O'Jf Kmvr —
EMPEY LEARNS HOW THE TOMMIES ARE FED IN THE
FRONT-LINE TRENCH AND BACK OF IT.
qunrtera In *r^*5ri!S£? A«™ " brtrf peli *.f tminln,
'« the front-line where he Uke,
Sffi .urn on the «re .tep while the hnlle.. whl* ovorhend.
After dinner I tried to wash out
the dlxle with cold water and a raj;,
and learned another maxim of tnc
trenches—"It can't be done. 1 JW
watched one of the older men from
another section, and was horrifies o
see him throw Into his dlxle four o
five double handful# of mud. Then hi
poured in some water, and with n s
hands scoured the dlxle Inside am ou ■
1 thought he was taking an awful rlsK.
Supposing the cook should have seen
hltu! After half an hour of umuc-
ccssful efforts I returned my dlxle to
the cook shack, being careful to put on
the cover, and returued to the billet.
Prvttv soon the cook poked his bea
In the door and shouted: "lley. \ an .
come out here and clean your dlxle!
I protested that I had lasted a half
hour on It already, and had used up
my only remaining shirt In the a -
tempt. With a look of disdain he ex
claimed: "Plow me, your shirt. «ny
tn —_ didn't you use mud?"
Without a word In reply I got busy
with the mud, and soon my dlxle was
bright and shining.
Most of the afternoon was spent by
the men writing letters home. I used
my spare time to chop wood for the
cook and go with the quartermaster to
draw coal. 1 got back just in time to
Issue our third meal, which insisted
of hot tea. 1 rinsed out my dlxle and
returned It to the cookhouse, and wen.
hack to the billet with an exhilarated
feeling that my day's labor was done.
1 had fallen asleep on the straw wh«m
ouce again the cook appeared In the
door of the billet with: "Bllme me you
Yanks are laxy. Who tn a-goin to
draw the water for the nwralu t<a?
IX, you think I'm a goto tot Well.
I'm not - and he left. I filled the dlxle
with water from an old squeaking v t i.
and once again lay down In the straw.
Just doxlng off ; Mr. Lance Corporal
In Tommy's eyes a lance corporal U
one degree below s private, .n the
corporal*® eyes he la one degree above
A KCKHtlt .
He ordered me to go with htra and
help him draw the next day's rations,
also told me to take my waterproof.
Kvery evening, from each platoon or
machine-gun section a ^
and private go to the quartermaster
sergeant at the company stores and
draw rations for the following day.
The -quarter." as the quartermaster
sergeant Is called, receives dally from
the orderly room (captain's office) s
slip showing the number of men en-
title,! to rations, so there Is
of putting anything over on htm. Many
argument* take ce between the
"quarter" and the Hatwn
the former always wtns out. Tommy
says the "quarter" got his job because
he was a burglar In civil life.
Then I spread the waterproof sheet
on the ground, while the quartermas-
ter's batman dumped the rations on it.
The corporal was smoking a fag. I
carried the rations back to the billet.
The corporal was still smoking a fag.
How I envied him. But when the Issue
commenced my envy died, and I real-
ised that the first requisite of a non-
commissioned officer on active service
Is diplomacy. There were 19 men In
our section, and they soon formed a
semicircle around us after the corporal
iiad called out, "Rations up."
The quartermaster sergeant had
given a slip to the corporal on which
was written a list of the rations. Sit-
ting on the floor, using a wooden box
as a table, the issue commenced. On
the left of the corporal the rations
were piled. They consisted of the fol-
Six loaves of fresh bread, each loaf
of a different size, perhaps one out of
the six being as flat as a pancake, the
result of an army service corps man
placing a box of bully beef on It dur-
Three tins of jam, one apple and the
Seventeen Bermuda onions, all aii-
A piece of cheese In the shape ot a
Two one-pound tins of butter.
A handful of raisins.
A tin of biscuits, or as Tommy calls
them "Jaw breakers."
A bottle of mustard pickles.
The "bully beef." spuds, condensed
milk, fresh meat, bacon and "Macono-
chle rations" (a can filled with meat,
vegetables and greasy water), had been
turned over to the company cook to
make a stew for next day's dinner. He
also received the tea, sugar, salt, pep-
per and flour.
Scratching his head, the corporal
studied the slip Issued to him by the
quarter. Then In a slow, mystified
voice he read out, "No. 1 section, 1
men. Bread, loaves, six." He looked
pucxled and sollloqulted In a musing
"Six loaves, nineteen men. Let s see,
that's three in a loaf for fifteen med—
well, to make It even, four of you
have to muck In on one loaf."
The four that got stuck made a howl,
but to no avail. The bread was dished
out. Pretty soon from a far corner of
the billet, three Indignant Tommies ac-
costed the corporal with:
"What do you call this, a loaf of
breadT Looks more like a sniping
The corporal answered:
"Well, dont blame me, I didn't bake
it; somebody's got to get It, so shut
up until I dish out these bllukln' ra
, turns."* .
Then the corporal started on the
^"Jara, three tins—apple one, plum
two. Nineteen men. three tins. Six
in a tin makes twelve men for two tins,
seven In the remaining tin.
He passed around the Jam, ana
there was another riot. Some didn
like apple, while others who received
plum were partial to apple. After a
while differences were adjusted ana
the Issue went on. ((
"Bermuda onions, seventeen.
The corporal avoided a row by sny
ing that he did not want an onion, and
I said they make your breath smell, so
I guessed I would do without one too.
The corporal looked his gratitude
"Cheese, pounds, two."
The corporal borrowed a Jackknlfe
(corporals are always borrowing), and
sliced the cheese—each slicing bring-
ing forth a pert remark from the on-
lookers as to the corporal's eyesight
"Raisins, ounces, eight."
By this time the corporal's nerves
had gone west, and In despair he said
that the raisins were to be turned over
to the cook for "duff" (plum pudding).
This decision elicited a little "grous-
ing," but quiet was finally restored.
"Biscuits, tins, one."
With his borrowed jackknife, the
corporal opened the tin of biscuits, and
told everyone to help themselves-no-
body responded to this Invitation.
Tommy Is "fed up" with biscuits.
"Butter, tins, two."
"Nine In one, ten in the other.
"Pickles, mustard, bottles, one.
Nineteen names were put In a steel
helmet, the last one out winning the
pickles. On the next Issue there were
only 18 names, as the winner Is elimi-
nated until every man In the section
has won a bottle.
The raffle Is closely watched, because
Tommy is suspicious when It comes to
gambling with bis rations.
When the Issue is finished the cor-
poral sits down and writes a letter
home, asking them If they cannot get
some M. P. (member of parliament) to
have him transferred to the Royal Fly-
ing corps where he won't have to Issue
At the different French estamlnets
In the village and at the canteens Tom-
my buys fresh eggs, milk, bread and
pastry. Occasionally when he Is Hush,
he Invests in a tin of pears or apri-
cots. His pay Is only a shilling a day,
24 cents, or a cent an hour. Just Imag-
ine. a cent an hour for being under
Ore—not much chance of getting rich
When he goes Into the fire trench
(front Hue). Tommy's menu takes a
tumble. He carries In his haversack
what the government calls emergency
or Iron rations. They are not supposed
to be opened until Tommy dies of star-
vation. They consist of one tin of
bully beef, four biscuits, a little tin
which contains tea, sugar and Oxo
cubes (concentrated beef tablets).
These are only to be used when the
enemy establishes a curtain of shell
fire on the communication trenches,
thus preventing the "carrying In" of
rations, or when In an attack a body
of troops has been cut off from Its base
The rations are brought up at night
by the company trausport. This 1« a
section of the company In charge if
the quartermaster sergeant, composed
of men. mules and Umbers (two-
wheeled wagons), which supplies Tom-
my's wants while In the front line.
They are constantly under shell lire,
.toe rations are unloaded at the en-
trench. He doesn't have to, and I have
never heard of one volunteering to
do so. . . _t-
The company sergeant major sorts
the rations and sends them In.
Tommy's trench rations consist of all
the bully beef he can eat, biscuit*,
cheese, tinned butter (sometimes 17
men to a tin), Jam or marmalade, and
occasionally fresh bread (ten to a
loaf). When it Is possible he gets tea
When things are quiet, and Frit* Is
behaving like a gentleman, which sel-
dom happens, Tommy has the opportu-
nity of making dessert. This is
"trench pudding." It Is made from
broken biscuits, condensed milk, Jam
a little water added, slightly flavored
with mud—put Into a canteen and
cooked over a little spirit stove known
as "Tommy's cooker."
(A firm In Blighty widely advertises
these cookers as a necessity for the
men in the trenches. Gullible people
buy them—ship them to the Tommies,
who, immediately upon receipt of same
throw them over the parapet. Some-
times a Tommy falls for the ad. and
uses the cooker In a dugout to the dis-
gust and discomfort of the other oc-
This mess is stirred up in a tin ana
allowed to simmer over the flames
from the cooker until Tomraj de^l°e"
that It has reached sufficient (gluelike)
consistency. He takes his bayonet and
by means of the handle carries the
mess up In the front trench-Jo cool.
After it has cooled off he tries to eat
Generally one or two Tommies In a
section have cast-iron stomachs and
the tin Is soon emptied. Once I tasted
trench pudding, but only once.
In addition to the regular ration is-
sue Tommy uses another channel to
enlarge his menu.
In tho English papers a "Lonely
Soldier" column is run. This is for
the soldiers at the front who are sup-
posed to be without friends or rela-
tives. They write to the papers and
their names are published. Girls an
women In England answer them, and
send out parcels of foodstuffs, clga-
rettes, candy, etc. I have known a
"lonely" soldier to receive as many as
five parcels and eleven letters In one
Empey realizes for the first
time how death lurks in the
trenches when a comrade falls
by his side. He telle about It In
the next installment
trance to the communication trenches
and are "clrrled In" hy men detailed
for that purpose. The quartermaster
sergeant never goes luto the front-line
(TO BE CONT1NU1jUJ.
A Change for the Invalid.
H you have a friend lying III, try
taking some daintily prepared edibles
next time you make a visit.
Nourishing broths and soups, wine
Jellies, delicately browned custards
and light puddings made of eggs and
milk are good. Or a small jar of mar-
malade or half a dozen lightly brown-
ed biscuit for the Invalids tea. Or
creamed chicken and creamed oysters
delivered In a charming blue bowl and
all ready to be heated up by the nu™«-
Grapefruit Is always appreciated
and mandarin oranges and white
grapes In a pretty basket are an appe-
tlilng combination, and there are some
Invalids who would be delighted with
a Jar of preserved ginger for occa-
"Kl" In the Navy.
Navy cocoa, which Princess Mary
thought might be good to eat as cho-
colate, is known aboard ship as kl. It
Is served out on the first dog watch
every Thursday, and It Is drunk when-
ever circumstances (In other word*
the ship's "crusher," or policeman)
i permit. The men grate down a liberal
quantity of It (for kl Is less «>n«ar
(rated than shore cocoa) and drink if
mixed In basins with sugar and con-
densed milk. At sea a special caul-
dron or kl, prepared by the ship's cook.
Is sent round action stations in "fan-
nies," or large pitchers. Midnight for
the guns' crews of our fleet Is the hour
when the kl boat arrives.—Londo®
Chronicle, — "*
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Tryon, A. L. The Davenport New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 10, No. 9, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 11, 1918, newspaper, April 11, 1918; Davenport, Oklahoma. (gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc109474/m1/4/: accessed February 16, 2019), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.