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Anglo-Zulu War Biscuit and Beef Rations
Edward


Joined: 27 Jan 2006
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Location: Glendora, California
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Can anyone tell me what a Zulu War-era biscuit ration looked like? I have searched high and low with no luck. Did they resemble the Huntley and Palmer variety from WWI? I have also had no luck finding out what one of the tinned beef ration cans looked like. I actually have the same question regarding the tinned beef rations cans. Any help would be appreciated.

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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
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I do seem to recall that much or all of the tinned meat was a product of the yards here in Chicago if that's any help. I imagine the tins themselves would have been manufactured to specifications dictated by the British War Department, but on the other hand, they might have be similar or the same as those issued to American troops at the same time.
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Edward


Joined: 27 Jan 2006
Posts: 32
Location: Glendora, California
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I have seen examples of the Libby, McNeill & Libby corned beef cans that date from as far back as the Anglo-Boer War but have never seen an example (or even the remains of one) that date from the Anglo-Zulu War.

I have also seen WWI examples of the square Huntley & Palmer biscuits from WWI, even examples that were used as picture frames and Christmas cards! I have also seen round Huntley & Palmer biscuits that Shackelton used on his epic journey but again nothing that gives a clue to what was shipped to South Africa during the 1879 Campaign.

I am working on a historical art project and have basically used up all my own personal resources, books etc. and trolled through the internet with no luck. The short of it is that I want to get these two rather small details right.

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Bill Cainan 3


Joined: 19 Feb 2011
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Edward

In the Brecon Museum we have examples of the items from the Anglo-Boer War, but nothing from the AZW.

All we do have is a replica biscuit box, in which the biscuits were stored.

As I understrand it, the tinned beef was there for emergencies, with most of the beef eaten coming from "beef on the hoof" - cattle herds driven along with the invading columns.

Bill
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Edward


Joined: 27 Jan 2006
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Location: Glendora, California
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Given the abundance of cattle in southern Africa during the campaign eating off the hoof would have made the most sense simplifying the quartermaster's task since the cattle would transport themselves so to speak. Given the rather prominent way those biscuit boxed figure in the fight at Rorke's Drift I find amusingly frustrating that I have been unable to see what one of the actual biscuits looked like at least those used before World War I.

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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 780
Location: Brecon
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Edward

The biscuits on general issue were certainly not the traditional Huntley & Palmer variety - although there is an illustration by Lt W W Lloyd of an officer using a H & P box as a pillow whilst on campaign. This box must have been a private purchase by one of the officers

The army issue, probably the same variety, used by the Royal Navy since Napoleonic times was probably square measuring 75 mm x 75 mm. The biscuit boxes have a metal container inside a wooden box and were about 100 cms high - so provided a much more substantial building block for the barricades at Rorke's Drift than the commercial biscuit boxes.

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Kiwi Sapper


Joined: 05 Mar 2009
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Location: Middle Earth & Home of Narnia; (Auckland, New Zealand)
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Martin Everett wrote:
.......... The biscuit boxes have a metal container inside a wooden box and were about 100 cms high - so provided a much more substantial building block for the barricades at Rorke's Drift than the commercial biscuit boxes.


Cracker, ( No pun intended) but from an ignorant colonialist view, would it not be more appropriate to express the measurements in the imperial measurements of the day? Not meaning to upset anybody............but probably doing so...(Sorry if I have Martin). I just like living the "era"

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Alan
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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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Location: Wales
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Kiwi Sapper wrote:

... would it not be more appropriate to express the measurements in the imperial measurements of the day? Not meaning to upset anybody............but probably doing so...(Sorry if I have Martin). I just like living the "era"


First thing which struck me. I still use Imperial even now. Imagine pacing out 100yards in metric.

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Bill Cainan 3


Joined: 19 Feb 2011
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Kiwi sapper

I was serving at the time everything went metric and I distinctly remember the British Army's well thought out response:

one army yard = one army metre

All the weapon pamphlets were therefore easy to amend, you just changed the word "yard", but of course the figures remained the same !!!

Bill
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Rob D


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 93
Location: Melbourne Australia
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Bill
Pardon my ignorance, but surely that couldn't have been applied to EVERYTHING - wouldn't it compromise long-distance range-finding or firing?
Rob
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Well, I just ignore the existence of metric (& decimal currency for that matter, which I view as no more than a passing fad that'll never catch on). To assist those unfamilar with the superior system I, too, just use their own term (metres) without bothering with any over elaborate conversion - so 100 yds might as well be 100 metres for them. (But I can see Rob's point about musketry or artillery possibly needing to adjust! To deal with this, I suggest it would be a lot easier for all concerned - other NATO forces for example - simply to ignore/drop metric ideas altogether & fall into line with the tried & tested imperial system).

Always baffles me why this hasn't happened yet. If harmonisation is so urgently required (as we often hear) then where is the objection to these "metrics" (i.e. those insisting on "harmonisation") simply falling into line by using imperial and thereby achieving harmonisation overnight? I have still never come across a single valid reason for conversion of any of the imperial systems to metrification. Even with our currency, one only ever hears "it must be better now 'cos it only deals in multilples of 10" - as if this argument somehow holds water. If you're dividing forty bob between an Englishman, a Jock & a Taff, is it easier with a decimal quid or an imperial quid? Which is the more stupid, 66.666p recurring, or a straight forward 13s 4d? As a consequence of over 40 years of this dumbing down "to make things easier" do we have a more numerate population? Or less? Ha!!! Don't answer that - just go and buy something in a shop.

And did someone mention map reading? ("Beep, beep. In 200 yards, turn left ... turn left. TURN LEFT!") I think we're sending the human brain to sleep.

Alan, feel free to relegate this to "off topic"!

P.
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Rob D


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 93
Location: Melbourne Australia
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Peter
I truly hope your post was tongue-in-cheek. If not, then please consider this:
A mechanic knows he has to work with 5/8" nuts - but are they Whitworth, BSF, or SAE? Which set of spanners does he take to the job? Does he buckle under the weight of three sets, or does he take the easy way out, use an adjustable spanner and burr the edges of the nuts so they won't turn properly ever again? Metric sizes remove that problem - one 13 mm spanner will loosen and tighten any and every 13 mm nut he will ever encounter.
And as regards liquid measures, "1 gallon" can equally validly be either 160 fl oz (Imp gallon) or 128 fl oz (US gallon) - so a standard drum could contain "44 gallons" or "55 gallons". If you want to requisition 10000 gallons - how many drums do you want? (Do you really think that the USA would ever let go of their own version of "Imperial" measurements?)
Hence the adoption of the metric system.
But I'm guessing you're aware of all this already.
Rob
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Kiwi Sapper


Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 125
Location: Middle Earth & Home of Narnia; (Auckland, New Zealand)
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Edward..........

Apologies from a Colonial for posting trite thoughts which have resulted in your thread being, dare I say, at worst, highjacked, at best dragged off on a tangent.

Embarassed

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It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't.
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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Rob

Yes, partly tongue in cheek! I'll respond in "off topic" when I get a moment.

P.
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Edward


Joined: 27 Jan 2006
Posts: 32
Location: Glendora, California
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Sapper....

No apology required Smile

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Anglo-Zulu War Biscuit and Beef Rations
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