Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
20th Division

trench food and their containers

43 posts in this topic

I was recently given a green glass bottle found near a British Trench, described as " a sausage jar". It occured to me that there must have been a multitude of different containers used for shipping food across from the UK for consumption in the trenches.The usual image is of bully beef cans--but there must have been many more different sorts! I'm surprised that glass was used to transport food in--even more surprised it remained in one piece so close to British trenches. Any experts out there on this subject? Where else was glass used? Any other examples?

The height is 7" and the diameter of the opening is 3"

I will try to get a photo of it with this posting-----it is the first time I have attempted this- so I hope it works.

Thanks Dave B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Dave. When a soldier's Mum or wife sent out goodies, if not home made, they would be in the containers they were sold in. No plastic so glass or tins it would have to be. No reason why a well packed jar or bottle should not get to its destination most of the time. Jam was also sold in earthenware jars. I'd have thought that home baked goods would be the commonest and most appreciated treat sent over, along with sweets and tobacco/cigarettes. Unburnt rubbish was buried and if a bottle or jar was buried it would survive indefinitely if it was not hit by a shell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Dave. When a soldier's Mum or wife sent out goodies, if not home made, they would be in the containers they were sold in. No plastic so glass or tins it would have to be. No reason why a well packed jar or bottle should not get to its destination most of the time. Jam was also sold in earthenware jars. I'd have thought that home baked goods would be the commonest and most appreciated treat sent over, along with sweets and tobacco/cigarettes. Unburnt rubbish was buried and if a bottle or jar was buried it would survive indefinitely if it was not hit by a shell.

Hi Tom-----Makes sense-Thanks for that. I was assuming that that this bottle was official Army issue---as per bully beef ----but, as you say, a lot of the food consumed on the fronts would have come from Blighty.

Interesting subject though--------the "postal service" must have been a mammoth industry!!

I would be interested to know what sort of percentage of food consumed by front line troops was official issue-and how much was sent by well wishers or families! ( and how much "fell off the back of a lorry" on its journey to the front???).

Again "thanks". best wishes. Dave. B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have known HP brown sauce bottles to be found in trenches I later found out this was put on the bully beef to flavour the taste and the sauce was sent from family back in the UK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread also brings up the question of how empty containers were disposed of. I have read standing orders stating in no uncertain terms that empty sandbags were to be located at each traverse, and all refuse was to be packed back to an appropriate place. However, the evidence seems to suggest that housekeeping in the front line was not very tidy.

Gregory Clark spent three years as an officer with the Canadian Mounted Rifles. Afterwards he enjoyed a long carreer as a journalist, broadcaster, and raconteur. As a child I remember reading his articles in the weekend newspaper supplement. He described the situation like this:

" ... As time went by we had no garbage disposal, no sewage disposal - they [the trenches] became filthy. You threw everything you didn't want over the parapet. ... And if you ever stood at a place where, with powerful binoculars, you could look at the trenches you saw this strange line of garbage heap wandering up hill and down dale as far as the eye could see. And in that setting men lived ... year after year [in] ... a sort of garbage dump ditch ... "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This thread also brings up the question of how empty containers were disposed of. I have read standing orders stating in no uncertain terms that empty sandbags were to be located at each traverse, and all refuse was to be packed back to an appropriate place. However, the evidence seems to suggest that housekeeping in the front line was not very tidy.

Gregory Clark spent three years as an officer with the Canadian Mounted Rifles. Afterwards he enjoyed a long carreer as a journalist, broadcaster, and raconteur. As a child I remember reading his articles in the weekend newspaper supplement. He described the situation like this:

" ... As time went by we had no garbage disposal, no sewage disposal - they [the trenches] became filthy. You threw everything you didn't want over the parapet. ... And if you ever stood at a place where, with powerful binoculars, you could look at the trenches you saw this strange line of garbage heap wandering up hill and down dale as far as the eye could see. And in that setting men lived ... year after year [in] ... a sort of garbage dump ditch ... "

Hi James and PtPatteson.

Thanks for these replies. It remains an interesting area. My Grandfather always remarked that when he was "out there"------" he was up to his neck in muck and bullets"-now I can begin to imagine what the "muck" bit was !!!

I still cannot quite fathom out how to attach a picture to my postings------(there is a section on the forum about this which I will study) ---I will be able to identify the bottle I have by looking at UK websites about "Bottle collecting".

Again"thanks" Guys. Best wishes. Dave B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the "postal service" must have been a mammoth industry!!

Some treats from home may have been brought by men returning from leave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bottle found on the Somme. Inscribed "H D RAWLINGS" and "NASSAU STREET". About 9 inches in length. Any Ideas as to the contents?.

Norman

post-21884-1236692725.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

H D Rawlings made Ginger Beer - definitely not army issue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seadog..Your Bottle would have contained Tonic Water/ Soda Water,not so sure about the Ginger Beer though,and the Bottle would have contained a Marble inside it which would have acted as a Stopper.I seem to recall that this type of Bottle was known as a "Codswallop" Bottle.I also have one of these Bottles in my possession which i found near the Artillery Positions at Aveluy Wood.I have also come across many discarded Shipphams Meat Paste Jars,HP Sauce Type Bottles..etc,etc,in old Gun Positions as the Artillerymen were often in 1 position for a length of time this would make sense.Eric Hiscock mentions in His Book "The Bells of Hell Go Ting a Ling a Ling" mentions that near Kemmel that there was a "road "made out of unopened Fray Bentos Bully Beef Tins,of which he and his Mates proceeded to Dig up and carry back to their mates in the Line.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Seadog..Your Bottle would have contained Lemonade/Ginger Beer/ or sometimes Soda Water,and the Bottle would have contained a Marble inside it which would have acted as a Stopper.I seem to recall that this type of Bottle was known as a "Codswallop" Bottle.I also have one of these Bottles in my possession which i found near the Artillery Positions at Aveluy Wood.I have also come across many discarded Shipphams Meat Paste Jars,HP Sauce Type Bottles..etc,etc,in old Gun Positions as the Artillerymen were often in 1 position for a length of time this would make sense.

As I said Rawlings (H D and not John) were Ginger Beer manufacturers. I think this bottle would have had a proper stopper as it has a flat end so it could be stood up (in which case a marble stopper would have released gas allowing the drink to become flat. Marble stoppered pop bottles had pointed ends so they had to lie on their side so that the marble stopper would work). In the 1920s Rawlings produced conventionally shaped bottles so your Somme bottle may have been a transitional type.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Link about the Bottles Design explains all.The Flat bottom would have been used to transport these Bottles in Bulk..and to make storage easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow there are certainly some knowledgable people out there!. What about this one also from the Somme. The words "CHURCH" and "STRETTON" about 7 inches in length.

Norman

post-21884-1236694824.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Link about the Bottles Design explains all.The Flat bottom would have been used to transport these Bottles in Bulk..and to make storage easier.

In which case it wouldn't have been marble stoppered. I think the linked article is incorrect in any case - the marbles were too heavy to be held in place by the gas preassure against gravity. I once helped excavate the garage of an Edwardian racing driver, one of the inspection pits was filled with discarded pop bottles of all kinds (worth a tidy sum) - only the pointed end bottles had marble stoppers.

Sea dogs second bottle From Church Stretton in Shropshire - just down the road from me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a mineral water bottling plant in Church Stretton to this day - the Stretton Hills Company

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In which case it wouldn't have been marble stoppered. I think the linked article is incorrect in any case -

Of course the Bottles would have had a seal over the Neck !!!,when the seal was opened this would have released the Marble,and allowed the Bottle to do what it was designed to do.iIf you think the Link is incorrect,maybe you could enlighten us all by coming up with something more explanatory. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps I should clarify my statement “from the Somme” this is in fact technically correct as these bottles were purchased a good few years ago from that splendid fellow, the proprietor of the excellent scrapyard in Fricourt the source of many a “souvenir” so they aren’t actually guaranteed as “dug ups”. Mind you I could stick them on e-bay and see what happens.

Norman

PS Many thanks for the info.

PPS Now now chaps no fighting please.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Perhaps I should clarify my statement “from the Somme” this is in fact technically correct as these bottles were purchased a good few years ago from that splendid fellow, the proprietor of the excellent scrapyard in Fricourt the source of many a “souvenir” so they aren’t actually guaranteed as “dug ups”. Mind you I could stick them on e-bay and see what happens.

Norman

PS Many thanks for the info.

PPS Now now chaps no fighting please.

Norm,dont bother with E-Bay as they seem to have a fair amount of Old Bottles on offer.I am now off down the Pub to have a Beer (or 6)...Hi De Hi.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iIf you think the Link is incorrect,maybe you could enlighten us all by coming up with something more explanatory. :D

With pleasure. The bottle shown by Seadog is essentially based on a design by Peter E Malmstrom of New York patented in 1901 (see enclosed picture from patent 64,759) - the article in the link seems to be conflating this with a Codd design. Malmstrom's bottle appears to have has a separate stopper, wired on I think and no marble. Codd appears to have produced a number of designs involving marbles - all of these involved complicated neck designs. I enclose part of his 1908 patent for an upright conventionally shaped bottle. His earlier bottle with a pointed end also had a complex neck design (but not as complicated as the upright version). Unfortunately I cannot locate a drawing but from memory having handled a number it had a sort of kink rather like a sort of sump (as encountered when caving) into which the marble dropped.

post-9885-1236700649.jpg

post-9885-1236700675.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last bottle (honest) the classic HP Sauce even today an essential requirement for any trip to the battlefields. Bottle inscribed “GARTONS HP SAUCE” the stopper is original sans cork. From Fricourt as the rest.

Norman

PS Very difficult to photograph aren’t they?

post-21884-1236764532.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whoops just found another one. This one “IDRIS” with coat of arms on the back and “BY ROYAL WARRANT”. Must be very important if drunk by Royalty. Same provenance as the rest.

Norman

PS More photos please, beginning to think you don’t care!

PPS This really is the last one.

post-21884-1236765686.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the Britvic web site

"Idris is a popular ginger beer which has had Royal Warrants awarded to it by four generations of the Royal Family.

The Idris company was originally founded in 1873 by Thomas Howell Williams who was so struck by the beauty of the Idris Mountains in Wales, near where he lived, that he changed his name to Thomas Idris."

Still made and marketed by Britvic but in very garish cans. Another Malstrom pattern bottle - these seem to have been popular for ginger beer which in its early 20th century version was very gassy indeed - the shape resisted bursting and the neck allowed the stopper to be wired in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very many thanks for the info. I have had these for a long time and now I know what they are, good stuff. I must be sitting on a fortune here if Royalty actually drank Idris Ginger Beer, think I will take them to the next local Antiques Road Show and get a valuation!.

Norman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0