Food rations in the Japanese forces

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Peter H
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 18 Apr 2008 14:38

Watermelon==Philippines
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 22 Apr 2008 05:31

Peter H wrote:Watermelon==Philippines
Slightly off-topic, but many of the Japanese soldiers in these photos are wearing white or near-white undershirts -- which other armies recognized as a liability in front-line areas. These men eating watermelon have khaki or white sun helmets, and the man at left may have a bandaged left hand.
Peter H wrote:Plenty of beer on this boat
I wonder that the Japanese Navy did not seem to ship its beer in kegs. Certainly a bottle makes a good and convenient unit of issue. But beer kegs would be a useful savings of weight, volume, and potential breakage on board ship.

=============================

Cited earlier in this thread but not illustrated here until now -- two photos from a good pictorial study of the China war, Colonel Roy M. Stanley II's Prelude to Pearl Harbor (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982). From page 65:


Image
These large squad canteens would seem to be relatively heavy when full. Presumably they would be strapped close behind the back to prevent their swinging around, especially where two are being carried, as in this photo.


Image
Straw would be an easily available wrapping, weatherproof enough for rice servings. Was it similarly used this way in rural Japan?

=============================

Returning to a source cited earlier, Gordon L. Rottman's Japanese Infantryman 1937-45: Sword of the Empire, Osprey Warrior series volume 95, (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2006), for which our member Akira Takizawa had provided his expert assistance:
... A containerized group ration with 40 meal portions was also provided. Its contents were packed in a tin container inside a wooden crate. Each portion contained: 10 1/2oz polished rice, 1/2oz dehydrated miso, vitamin B paste, vitamin A and D tablets, and powdered tea (for vitamin C). Matches were included along with 20 3oz tins of heating alcohol; one tin was sufficient to heat two portions. [page 45]
Presumably the vitamin B paste was the sort of brewers' yeast described in an earlier thread here. The Japanese armed forces had had hard experience of the vitamin B deficiency beri-beri, similar to that of the British Navy with scurvy up to the 1790s.

This group ration is similar in principle to the US Army Trench Ration of World War I. Trench Rations were large tinplate canisters containing canned meal ingredients for 25 men. These spartan meals were close to the individual Reserve Rations that doughboys carried in their field packs. As described in Assistant Secretary of War, Director of Munitions Benedict Croswell's report America's Munitions 1917-18 (US Government Printing Office, 1919), page 445:
... [US Trench Rations] were packed in hermetically sealed galvanized iron containers, holding 25 rations each. The contents of each can consisted of 25 pounds of meat in 1-pound cans, 25 pounds of hard bread in 8-oz cans, and 25 rations each of soluble coffee, sugar, and salt. Tobacco and cigarettes were [incidentally] added for the comfort of the men ...
I do not know when the Japanese Army adopted its own containerized group ration, but it may have come from observations of the Western Front in World War I. Didn’t the British Army have similar ration containers there? Secretary Croswell's report stressed that the American trench ration containers were made to withstand poison gas. This was also true of many later combat rations, although less remembered for it. In World War II the German Army combat meals, British Composite Pack rations, and American C and D Rations were all canned or heavily waxed to be gas-proof as well as weatherproof. Even though the Japanese Army did not experience the poison gas of World War I, I expect that its group ration followed the same idea.

From available literature, the Japanese Army did not seem to have as many pre-packaged operational rations as those of other combatants. At least two such Japanese pack rations have been covered in this thread, and specialized ones mentioned for paratrooper use. There were certain food items specially made for soldiers, such as the kanpan crackers. But where Japan could keep up her supply connections, most accounts of her soldiers' food seem to be about the raw foodstuffs -- either fresh or canned, and whether shipped, foraged, or appropriated.

In his The Siege of Rabaul (also cited earlier), Henry Sakaida puts it that Japan was backward in food supply matters. As with certain other technologies, I believe one reason for Japan’s lack here was the early expectation to win the Pacific war quickly. She did not expect to be defeated in combat or suffer shortages in a long war, so troop support had no more emphasis than it did. Moreover, Japanese soldiers themselves were sometimes treated as ammunition to be expended, rather than weapons to be cared for.

-- Alan

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Akira Takizawa » 22 Apr 2008 05:55

Sewer King wrote:Straw would be an easily available wrapping, weatherproof enough for rice servings. Was it similarly used this way in rural Japan?
In Japan, Onigiri (Rice ball) was usually wrapped with Takenokawa (Bamboo sheath). But, Takenokawa was not avaiable in the front. So, straw would be used.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 22 Apr 2008 13:32

Said to be Lemonade Bottle found on one of the midget subs at Sydney May 1942.From the AWM website.

Obviously bottled water/lemonade was carried on these craft.
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 28 Apr 2008 09:20

Sub dining
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 28 Apr 2008 09:28

Officers munching fruit?Or inspecting tobacco?
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 01 May 2008 07:48

Peter H wrote:Sub dining
See also the earlier quote about food on board Japanese submarines.

The I-boat men here are eating peaceably enough. But unless they are in friendly waters, this photo makes me imagine what would happen if there was a sudden call to –

>>> GENERAL QUARTERS ! <<<

Then these crewmen scramble out of their seats and run to battle stations, with bowls and unfinished rice flying in all directions. A fact of life in all submarine fleets, like the folded-up bunks over their heads.
Peter H wrote:Said to be Lemonade Bottle found on one of the midget subs at Sydney May 1942.From the AWM website. Obviously bottled water/lemonade was carried on these craft.
If it was normally hot and humid inside the older Japanese fleet submarines -- and those of other navies -- I cannot imagine how it might have been in the midget boats, although their endurance was less.

Of course the midgets had no toilet facilities. Is it possible that such bottles served another purpose once they were emptied? Soviet tank crewmen did the same with empty shell cases, and long-distance American truck drivers with plastic beverage jugs.

=============================

Here is one very obscure ration for Japanese soldiers -- the US Army's "O Ration" (for “Oriental”) issued to those taken as prisoners-of-war, as in this well-known photo on Guam at the time of Japan's surrender:

Image

The "O Ration" has a passing mention in the US Army's so-called “Green Book” histories of World War II. From the Office of Chief of Military History, Quartermaster Corps: Operations in the War against Japan (Washington DC, 1956), page 317:
By early 1944 the Army in the Southwest Pacific was employing enough Chinese and other Orientals to call for the development of an Oriental or O ration. This ration was somewhat more varied than [earlier expedient rations for SW Pacific IIslander natives], providing --
:

16 ounces (oz) rice,
4 oz wheat flour,
14 oz vegetables, fresh or dried;
8 oz fresh beef, or 5 oz canned fish, or 1.5 oz bacon;
1 fresh egg;
small quantities of milk, butter, lard, salt and spices, curry powder, and tea.
... As many of these components were scarce, substitutions were freely made. The Oriental ration. or its rough equivalent, was employed in feeding Japanese prisoners as well as Oriental laborers. Though Nipponese, as well as other Asians, normally consumed only about 2,000 calories a day in contrast to the 2,500 to 3,500 calories consumed by Americans, the Geneva Convention of 1929 required that their meals be equal in quantity to those served U.S. troops in base installations. The Oriental ration met this stipulation, providing about 2,600 calories.

In the spring of 1945 the War Department advised the Pacific areas [of operations] that the world-wide shortage of canned and fresh meats, canned fruits and vegetables, and dehydrated potatoes demanded the stringent conservation of all these foods. USASOS [US Army Services of Supply] thereupon dictated that the prisoner-of-war ration be modified by the substitution of egg powders, macaroni, spaghetti, beans, and stews for those scarce products. In July the [Office of the Quartermaster General] developed a new ration for Japanese prisoners, but USASOS pointed out that though this ration provided as many calories as Japanese ordinarily consumed, it did not supply enough nourishment to comply with the Geneva Convention. [Therefore] USASOS accordingly continued to use its own scale ...
Presumably the laborers who also used the O Ration included no Muslims to judge from the bacon, lard, and likelihood of pork-based American stews. US Army quartermasters did have to consider this when feeding French colonial troops in North Africa, and later on, Turkish troops serving in the Korean War.

Sources in this "Green Book" history do use the name “O Ration.” It was probably useful for supply accounting, but had no connection to the Army’s issue A, B, C, and D Rations. (K Rations were incidentally named for their originator Dr. Ancel Keys. In 1942-43 there was also an issue Jungle Ration unofficially called the “J Ration,” and an expedient "H ration" for hospital patients.

Note that the ration’s value was almost the same as the old Japanese Army’s own 2,580 calorie minimum from the 1904 war, as cited earlier here – as well as the later Geneva minimum.

-- Alan

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 06 May 2008 13:12

K Rations being given to Japanese prisoners on Iwo Jima

Source: US Naval Historical Center
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 07 May 2008 04:50

This photo of Japanese PoWs eating in the rear made me think of the following. Excerpted from a future thread -- from Ulrich Straus' study of Japanese PoW internment and interrogation, Anguish of Surrender: Japanese PoWs of World War II.
… In almost all instances recorded by former [Japanese] prisoners, Americans had readily given them a cigarette, often more than one. The offer of a cigarette, highly prized in wartime, was a gesture of friendship that the Japanese gratefully accepted. Prisoners had been given chocolate bars and fed with K or C rations, often the first decent meal they had had in weeks or months. In one autobiography a former PoW ruefully commented that when his feces disappeared in a slit trench, it represented his last possession from the time he served in the Imperial Japanese Army. Now all he had, even including the clothes he wore, came from the Americans.
The chocolate bars were probably D ration bars, or the half-D bars that were in the later issues of K rations.

I cannot remember many other photos of an uninjured Japanese taken prisoner with his steel helmet still on. Among some German troops it may have been a sign of surrender to take off the helmet and put on a field cap, but that would not have been the case in the Pacific. There are other PoW photos from Iwo Jima, but it was relatively rare for the Americans to see any Japanese at all in that battle, with less than 300 prisoners taken out of 21,000 defenders.

So soon after their capture, who would typically have ordered that prisoners be given a food ration and cigarettes? This is not so strange a question as it may sound. Various photos and accounts show this practice and imply that it was common. It was also between opponents who were in vicious combat only moments before, who may have known little of each other before except through propaganda, and sometimes with a racial edge at that. The ready gesture of food and tobacco might not have been the same between a German and his Allied captor as it was for a Japanese.

The apparently relaxed stance of the Marines, standing over the prisoners who are eating, adds something to the moment captured here. On Iwo an American may have thought his enemy a fanatical diehard, but might not have realized how underfed he was. For his part, a Japanese may have been told he would be enslaved at best if he was captured. Food and a cigarette would be the first things that reach over these barriers of language, fear, and battle. They are the first sure signs that the fighting has ended between them. But by their offer and acceptance the two men glimpse each other's humanity for the first time. They never forget it, even if they do not tell of it afterward.

-- Alan

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 23 May 2008 04:41

I hope it is all right to quote part of another thread, titled ”Japanese Soldier’s Field Equipment”, since it is cumbersome to point to one small part by just linking its entirety:
by hisashi on 17 Jan 2007 03:43

... I add some tips for reenactment lunch.

When cooking was impossible in the field, rice ball was a typical ready-to-eat meal. For preservation, they often put an umeboshi in. A little amount of fukujinzuke or takuan was packed with rice balls. Instead of putting umeboshi, yaki-onigiri was also served. Yaki-onigiri is a grilled rice ball. After the surface got browned, put soy sauce with a brush and grill a short while for drying. I often just put soy sauce with tea spoon if I don't have a brush.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umeboshi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takuan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukujinzuke
http://www.ajinomoto.co.jp/recipe/condi ... 1148RecSub (a picture of yaki-onigiri)

An easy way to make up well-shaped rice ball is to put rice into kitchen wrap and push from outside the wrap into a shape you wish.
Long ago I had particularly associated wrapped rice balls with Japanese soldiers, because illustrations of samurai and ashigaru from old Japan often show a string of them slung across their shoulders. But rice balls seem a handy way for anyone to carry servings, not only soldiers.

I have seen the "Rising Sun" lunches of white rice with the red umeboshi in the center, but had not realized it was a preservative until now.

=============================

Earlier I had wondered if there is limited Imperial military re-enactment in Japan (or elsewhere) today, since one can buy reproduction IJA rations.

-- Alan

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 02 Jul 2008 23:37

In connection with Clint Eastwood’s recent film Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Kumiko Kakehashi’s book Chipuzo Kaneshiki was translated into English under the title So Sad to Fall in Battle (Ballantine Books and Presidio Press, 2007; translation Shinchosha Co Ltd).

English-language accounts of Iwo Jima commonly honor General Kuribayashi Tademichi for his tenacious defense of that island. They also describe the hard labors of building up that defense. But Kakehashi makes use of a wide range of Japanese-language accounts not easily available in the West. These expand upon the common English ones, with less-known details that range from amusing to intriguing.

For example, Major Horie Yoshitaka’s contribution about Iwo Jima to John Toland’s The Rising Sun is well known, but is naturally not as detailed as Horie’s own more specific book. Tokon Io-To (Fighting Spirit: Iwo Jima), written in 1965. Kakehashi quotes that book (page 21):
As a leader, Division Commander Kuribayashi was strict about military discipline … at the same time, there was a side of his personality that overflowed with warmth. He was always making inspection tours of the island … personally directed the organization and construction of the defenses, and while doing so he would slip the cigarettes that were a gracious gift from the Emperor into the pockets of the hardworking troops, sharing them out …

Even the headquarters staff started growing vegetables, and they offered these around for cooking. They grew sweet potatoes, which is an all-year round plant. We often used to pick just about a centimetre from the tips of the shoots, put them in hot water, add soy sauce, and eat them.
A general giving his cigarettes to common soldiers at hard labor would have been impressive under ordinary conditions. Ulrich Straus’ Anguish of Surrender and Allison B. Gilmore’s You Can’t Fight Tanks with Bayonets – both cited earlier in this thread – refer to a Japanese sense of obligation that such favors bring up. But Kuribayashi ordinarily did such things for his men, as Kakehashi continues (page 22):
In July 1944 Lieutenant Colonel Asaeda Shigeharu, army chief of staff from the Imperial General Headquarters, visited Iwo Jima for strategy discussion. He had heard that fresh vegetables and water were in short supply, so he filled large baskets with freshly pickled cucumbers, eggplants, and tomatoes and loaded these onto the plane at Kisarazu Airfield along with some seventy-two liter barrels of well water. He got to Iwo Jima and handed the supplies to the soldiers on duty, who received them as if they were sacred objects. Things soon became lively with cries of “Hey, everyone! Bring your cups! Fresh water from the mainland’s here!”

It seems that Asaeda had prepared a separate consignment of vegetables for the commander in chief, and after the war he recounted the experience of delivering it directly to Kuribayashi.
I gave one basket of fresh vegetables to the division commander. With tears in his eyes, the general ordered his adjutant to use his knife to chop the vegetables up into small pieces and share them with as many men as possible below the rank of regimental commander. He did not take a single scrap for himself. On the contrary, he gathered up some papaya and made pickles, which he gave to the people around him. It was impressive; he was like a modern-day General Nogi [a figure from the 1890s Sino-Japanese War who was an example of self-sacrifice].
In many of her letters, Kuribayashi’s wife [Yoshio] expressed the wish to send him his whiskey ration and extra articles of food, or to give them to the liaison officers who shuttled between Tokyo and Iwo Jima to deliver. Kuribayashi. however, would always tell her “I’m in a more fortunate position than the soldiers, so have quite enough of everything,” or “The airplanes have more important freight to carry, so please don’t send me anything but letters.”
The general did allow himself at least some whiskey, as Major Horie told in his discussions with him and related in Toland's The Rising Sun.

According to the diary of Major General Sanada, chief of the Army General Staff, Kuribayashi took issue with the well-known disparity between Army and Navy provisions (Kakehashi, page 84):
Since the start of June, we have had neither alcohol nor anything sweet. The navy have their PX [a shop where you can buy everyday goods, food, and drink] and they received and increase in the sake ration. It is not good for the difference in treatment to be so blatant on such a small island.
And on another of the General’s inspection tours of Iwo defenses under construction, Kakehashi quotes veteran Murai Yasahiko (page 91):
There were stories that the commander in chief would often inspect the First Defense Line on his own. One day, when the members of the trench mortar company were all busily constructing their positions, Kuribayashi came to Mount Higashi by himself with his wooden cane.

The order was given for them to fall in and stand at attention, but Kuribayashi told them to stay as they were. He asked how things were, went into the tin-roof barracks where they were in the middle of cooking, and carefully inspected the rest of their supplies. Then he thanked them and went back to the headquarters. The bill of fare at the time was soft rice with powdered soy sauce, and clear soup with one of two bits of dried pumpkin in it.
It is not simply that adequate food was scarce enough on Iwo Jima – although it was. Nor was it simply that Kuribayashi was a good general and kind to his troops, although he was.

It is also that many of the Japanese survivors of Iwo could remember seeing or meeting the General directly, because his inspections were as attentive as this. A good officer will share the hardships of those he leads, but he was concerned down to what was in the cookpot.

Life and discipline were normally tough enough for the IJA’s other ranks. There may be other accounts of WW2 Imperial officers who took good care of their men under harsh conditions, but Kuribayashi’s is one of the better-told ones. The little-known Admiral Nisuke Masuda did the same for his men on Jaluij atoll while other garrisons in Micronesia starved. I imagine there are also similar stories from the wars of old Japan.

-- Alan

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Peter H » 12 Jul 2008 12:08

Thanks Alan.

Winter dining
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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 10 Sep 2008 23:27

I’m not sure the above was taken as a humorous photograph, although it certainly looks like one. We have a long-running thread of comedic German military photos. But I can’t think of any other Japanese photos like this, which invite you to write humorous captions for them.

At that, the standard rations of oats, hay, and straw for German Army horses are easy to look up. I have never read anything about those of Japanese horses in the China theater, although probably and naturally similar. Except maybe for oats?

==========================

I do not know, but somehow I expect that the packaged Japanese combat rations mentioned earlier were developed shortly before the Pacific war -- possibly using experience in China. Is there any evidence either way? If so it might be the one of the few appreciable advances that the Japanese Army made to its provisions, for which the development history would be of interest.

Imperial Navy airmen had their own packaged rations in the same link above. Although the original bulletin does not say here, the meals seem likely meant for aircrews on long-range flights -- particularly those of transports and flying boats as supposed earlier. Their inclusion of a small bottle of whisky might have surprised their American opponents to see it. On a mission, the only time USAAF fliers might down some whisky “slugs” was after return landings.

In comparison, American bomber crews had a packaged AAF Combat Lunch available to them. Like the Japanese ones this could be prepared in-flight, needing only hot water for certain ingredients. But this had only limited success, often with just some of it being eaten and the rest gone to waste. Presumably the Japanese Navy liked or appreciated its in-flight aircrew rations more than the US Army Air Forces did theirs.

-- Alan

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Akira Takizawa » 11 Sep 2008 01:55

Sewer King wrote:I do not know, but somehow I expect that the packaged Japanese combat rations mentioned earlier were developed shortly before the Pacific war -- possibly using experience in China.
The packaged Japanese combat rations was developed from 1924 and it was adopted in 1931. First, it was experimentally used in Manchuria Incident.

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Re: Food rations in the Japanese forces

Post by Sewer King » 11 Sep 2008 05:23

Thanks to Taki, as always.

Since Japan had worked on them in the 1920s and trialled them in 1931-32, that would mean that they were ahead of the Americans in that concept of modern combat rations. The US Army Quartermaster Corps only began developing the latter in about 1936, culminating in the famous canned Field Ration C and chocolate bar Ration D.

It also suggests that the Japanese Army soon applied its World War I observations from the Western Front, rather than the later China war as I first thought. After WW1 the US Army stayed with its wartime rations, only slightly improving its bulky Reserve Ration for combat use and discontinuing the Emergency Ration. A small-scale experiment in 1932 sought a replacement for the latter, ultimately leading to the D Ration bar. But unlike in the IJA, compressed and dried foods would not be tried in US combat feeding until the K Ration was developed, just before WW2.

Incidentally, a similar-sounding type of combat ration would later be made in Japan for the ROK Army during the Korean War. From James Huston's Guns and Butter, Powder and Rice: US Army Logistics in the Korean War (Susquehanna University Press, 1989), page 339-340:
... Special measures were necessary to provide a satisfactory combat ration for Korean units [since the US C Ration did not suit Korean taste, was relatively expensive at $2.00 each, and did not use local foodstuffs]. In August 1950, the Japan Logistical Command Quartermaster began developing a special J ration for Korean troops in combat. As approved in September, the ration [typically containing ingredients such as] rice starch, biscuits, rice cake, fish, peas, kelp, tea, chewing gum, and condiments, provided 3,250 calories (the C ration provided 3,800) and weighed 2.3 lb, and cost less than $ .79.
Huston adds that Japanese workers in the US Army's Tokyo Quartermaster Depot would ship about 1 million of these rations per month to Korea. In 1951 the Depot used more than 401,000 lbs of cuttlefish and 3,256,000 packages of Japanese cigarettes. Unfortunately the book has no photos of this ROK Army combat ration, but I would expect to compare it to the Japanese Army one before it.

-- Alan

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