Knacker Squaddies' Quartermaster Depot
Canadian Rations of World War II
Rations History and FAQ
Small Arms Historical Info
Oregon Military Museum

This portion of the site is a tribute to the 1.1 million Canadians who served, 42,042 who died and 54,414 who were wounded in WW II.
Your sacrifice in the name of freedom is not forgotten.


After witnessing the less-than-perfect supply and rations situation in the British Army during the Great War, Canadian military planners decided to begin a 'similar but separate' program of rations procurement for the Canadian Army. This program began in the 1920's, and by the time World War II came about and it was time for Canada to join the 'Mother Country's' cause, ration development had taken on a very "Commonwealth flavour"...

Even though very similar in general design and purpose to their British counterparts, Canadian service rations were in many cases different with a flair not only given to uniquely Canadian tastes, but also with universal use by brothers in arms throughout the Commonwealth.

Canada had, similar to the UK, divided its rations into the following categories:

1. Food Service Rations---Generally fresh food or what would be considered mess hall food.

2. Field Service Rations---Foods that were transportable, had shelf life and no refrigeration requirement and could be eaten with limited preparation needs. These included Composite Rations and Supplemental Ration Packs. These rations were normally designed to feed sections

3. Field Operational Rations---Items that could be issued to soldiers as regular sustenance when no messing arrangements were possible. Rations of this nature were the 48-Hour Ration Pack, the 24-Hour Ration and partial issues of the more portable components of the Compo ration.

4. Specialist and Special Purpose Rations---Foods that were either task specific, such as the AFV-(Armoured Fighting Vehicle) ration and the Mountain/Arctic ration.

5. Emergency Rations
Rations designed as a means of sustenance in survival situations, or as a last food source when no foods of any other kind are available. These rations included the Individual Emergency Ration (MK1 and British MKI and MKII-pretty much a chocolate nut cake in a tin), vehicle, aircrew and marine emergency rations, and the General Purpose emergency ration. The GP was a much-abused ration consisting of a Spam®-sized gold-coloured tin that contained 12 biscuits, 2 chocolate bars, and 12 milk chocolate tablets (these were actually procured from the US--Necco® Wafers!). Troops did not like this ration one bit, and if asked about WW2 rations, many Canadian troops have little recall of any other ration items, but always remember the "Emergency" ration as atrocious and disliked. (Military planners tended to add one day to any operational feeding based on the fact that each soldier had one of these by 1944).

6. Supplemental rations

These ration packs were distributed to troops in situations where:

  1. Definite re-supply could not be insured
  2. Foreign rations may be supplied in insufficient or unknown quantity or quality (The Canadian planners had run into issues with US D-Ration bars being the sole supply being delivered to Commonwealth Troops)
  3. Partial issues from Compo rations were made, and were lacking some ingredients that were hard to carry once the compo tins or containers were opened
  4. When no preserved rations of any consequence were available

These rations consisted mainly of 1-3 man packs of "extras", such as the "Biscuit and Beverage Powder" tins, which contained various biscuits and some form of instant beverage, and condiment/accessory tins, which were normally packed to supply either 3 or 6 troops. The contents of the Accessory tins (which came out in 1943 and were provided to most allies) could be "Oats with Sugar", "Matches, Sugar, Salt, Sweets and Mepacrine" or various other multi-serving beverage packs.