25 APRIL 1941, Page 12


SIR,—In a valuable article in The Spectator, April nth, "Feed the Hungry Workers," the opinion is expressed that even after the recent cuts the rations of the armed forces are larger than those of cirlians This is, no doubt, true as regards the small number of rationed foods- It does not therefore follow that the men in thel Army—the Air Force is in a better position under a different method of controlling the messing—are better fed than the civilian population. I am afraid there can be no doubt that the reverse is true. For if the soldier's small slice of meat and scrap of bacon for- breakfast are rather more than the civilian gets, the soldier misses most of the supplements that help out civilian meals. Consider how important these supplements are. They come in two ways—in the possibility of using more, varied materials than ag available An army-cooks, and of using materials, in more ways. The variety, e.g., of vegetables and salads, that comes into the shops cannot sways come to the Army, because the Army must think in huge quantities. Thinking of eggs, for example, to the housewife the unit is all egg; to the Army cook it is a gross of eggs. And everywhere, in civilian life, there are possibilities of windfalls—some extra fat, a pot of treacle, an extra allowance of cheese, all of which can be made to furnish, with other things, substantial and valuable dishes. Or there are potted meats, " pork " pies or varieties of fish. Advantage can be taken of all vegetables or salads that appear in the shops. In the country the position is still better. There will be home-grown vegetables and fruits, and every decent housewife, however poor, will have some preserved foods—pickles, jams, honey, home-made wine, and there will be herbs in the garden throughout the year. These things not only add to the bulk and agreeableness of the food, but have great nutritive value. A slightly larger amount of rationed foods does not entirely compensate the soldier for their loss.

A private—a University man, not greatly interested in his food— who recently spent his first leave with me, said that the great surprise had been to discover how much more civilians had to eat than soldiers. A number of other soldiers have expressed much the same opinion. Army canteens are said to be able now to offer little except baked beans.

It should be realised that the soldier's food is „severely restricted. The Press campaign to reduce it was deplorable and should not be