The Last Surviving D-Day Ration Pack

Staff at the Keep Military Museum in Dorchester have discovered a World War 2 ration pack in the museum collection.  It is believed to be the only surviving complete Assault Ration Pack in the world.

The “Assault Ration Pack” was issued to British and Commonwealth soldiers for the D-Day landings, and was designed to sustain the troops for an additional 24 hours while supply chains were established.

The rations were packed in a waxed cardboard box, which was sealed to help keep the contents water- and gas-proofed. Their small size allowed them to be carried in a mess tin.  They were a lightweight solution to providing a soldier with the 4000 calories he needed in a day.

The sealed Assault Ration Pack, designated “The 24 Hour Ration (A)”.

The pack contained:

  • 10 Biscuits
  • 2 Oatmeal blocks
  • Tea, sugar and milk blocks
  • 1 Meat block
  • 2 slabs of raisin chocolate
  • 1 slab of plain chocolate
  • Boiled sweets
  • 2 Packets of chewing gum
  • 1 Packet of salt
  • Meat extract tablets
  • 4 Tablets of sugar
  • 4 Pieces of latrine paper

Originally found in 2006, the sealed ration pack was mistakenly identified as a 1950s item.  But when it was re-examined recently for a military rations exhibition, the Museum’s Director instantly recognised it as the extremely rare assault rations of the Second World War.

Remarkably, x-rays of the ration pack show all the original contents still inside – including the biscuits, boiled sweets, and tea. The Keep Museum are grateful to their friends at Fishbourne Roman Palace for the expert assistance in x-raying the box.

X-Ray showing the contents inside the sealed pack. The contents are remarkably clear, notably the three chocolate bars and 10 biscuits

A conservator from Fishbourne Roman Palace examines the freshly produced x-ray.

June 6th 2022 will mark 78 years since the D-Day landings and the Allied invasion of Normandy, laying the foundations for the victory in Europe and ultimately the end of the Second World War.

Men of the Anti-tank platoon of the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment aboard a landing craft as it approaches Gold Beach on D-Day

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