Thursday, May 14, 2015

Baking Bread in the World War I Army

Via comment by Daniel on Peter White’s presentation at the Spring 2015 PATC...

"His talk was both encouraging and demoralizing. Taking care of any one of those tasks would be a major undertaking. Simply feeding any number of people during or after an "event" will be a super bitch. MREs and Mountain House won't cut it. Here's a link I found re how a WW1 Army field bakery operated:

It's a major job just for bread and the inputs of ingredients, water, and firewood are staggering. Hard work around the clock as well. Where does all that flour and yeast and the rest keep coming from week after month after year no matter what?"


In World War I, the U.S. Army didn't have the luxury of buying bread from vendors like Rainbow or Wonder. All bread consumed by the troops had to be baked by post bakeries or the field bakery company.

The best resource for those interested in bread baking during World War I is the 1916 edition of the Manual for Army Bakers. It contains 123 pages of early Nineteenth Century baking wisdom. It's extremely detailed and expresses a modern understanding of the science of bread baking.

If you can find a copy of the manual (try eBay -- there's usually one for sale), you'll be treated to a treatise on yeast and yeast recipes, detailed specifications for baking ingredients, recipes and plenty of how-to instructions. You also get a description of the field bakery company and its equipment.

More @ Seebee Cook


  1. To feed 200 men 1000 cal. per meal MINIMUM RATION X 3 meals per day X 7 days. takes how many TONS of food? How much water? How many trucks to haul it? How much fuel and of what type? How many men to prepare the food and transport it? How close are the men to the kitchens? Do they have mess gear? I think you guys that read this get the drift, All the fancy AR's Multicams and tacticool stuff on the planet is useless without logistics. AND THAT is NUMBER ONE-FIRST what a good officer is about, getting what his men need TOO his men when they need it. Ruck loadouts, big knives and rifle BRU-HA's are all internet B.S. The ONLY question you need to have the 411 too is this one; DO YOU HAVE 90 DAYS "BEANS AND BULLETS"? and CAN YOU MOVE IT TO THE TROOPS IN A TIMELY MANNER.? If you do not know ether then you have already lost. Brock knows this (or should). Too bad so few of us have any staff training. I just wish that fewer guys over 55 would invest in body armor and more of them sink money into support gear and then TRAIN TO USE IT. It may be only soup beans and bread but it'll beat hell out of three day old dog and "greens" ---Ray

    1. getting what his men need TO his men when they need it.

      Gotta' take care of their stomachs first, that's for sure. Confederates resorted to throwing rocks at Second Manassas, their tummy's were full though as I remember


      soup beans and bread

      Or dry noodles on the run, but it will suffice. Thanks

    2. The reason Lee surrendered was failed logistics. Without a working (and robust) logistic base units in the field (even the NVA in Vietnam) are reduced in effectiveness to the content of the rucksack. At that point they are combat ineffective in seven days. This was the "lesson learned" from the WW2 Airborne. If you cannot resupply your troops (or CIDG for that matter) you have lost your war. That is #1 the reason the pentagon has implemented "anti hoarding , anti-gardening, and anti-livestock" laws. This is also behind the push to ban woodstoves . This is to limit or eliminate even primitive resupply in the event of "domestic unrest". The feds KNOW that what they are about to drop on us will spark a violent backlash. We would all do well to remember that the Germans at Stalingrad , surrendered when they ran out of food . That seems to be the "PLAN" if we get "uppity". "Cut us off , cut us up, and starve us out". A fed man can find and use a weapon (even a rock) . But a starved man will eventually just quit , sooner if he watches his children starve.----Ray

    3. a starved man will eventually just quit , sooner if he watches his children starve.

      Reminds me of this:

      2. Major Dang Si Vinh
      He moved in our neighborhood sometime in early 1974. His family - wife and seven children - soon earned sympathy from people along the paved alley of a Saigon suburb where most inhabitants were in lower middle class. His eldest son was about thirty years old and a first lieutenant in the Army Medical branch after graduated pharmacist from the Medical School. The youngest was a 15-year-old pretty girl.

      It would have been a happy family if Saigon had not fallen to the hands of the Communist North Vietnam army. That was what people in the neighborhood said about the middle-aged RVN Army Major Dang Si Vinh, who was holding a job in the National Police Headquarters in Saigon.

      At about 2:00 PM on April 30, 1975, almost two hours after RVN President Duong Van Minh surrendered to the Communists, people near by heard several pistol reports from his home. After hesitating for safety, his neighbors got into his home to find Major Vinh, his wife and his seven children lying each on a single mattress, all dead, each by one .45 caliber bullet that gushed pools of blood from the horrible holes at their temples.

      On a long dining table, decent meals had been served and eaten as if in an usual and peaceful dinner. There were nine small glasses, all had traces of a pink powder left at their bottoms. Apparently, Maj. Vinh and his relatives had taken the drug - probably sleeping pills - before Vinh gave each a finishing stroke with his .45 pistol.

      In an open small safe he left some hundreds of thousands South Vietnam piasters, rated about 500 dollars at the time, an indication of his poor circumstances as an army major. On the note along with the money, Vinh wrote:

      "Dear neighbors,"

      "Forgive us. Because our family would not live under the Communist regime, we have to end our lives this way that might be bothering you. Please inform my only sibling, a sister named ... at... and use this money to help her bury us anywhere. "

      "Thank you,"
      "Dang Si Vinh."

      14 Mar 2007

  2. Glad y'all found some use. The 1916 manual is out there in PDF - it took me all of five minutes to find it.