British 24-Hour Ration kits

The British 24-Hour Ration kit €7,50


discontinued 24-hour ration kit two sets

The British 24-Hour Ration kit consisting of one set each so you can make a complete ration.
Included are the cartons for making the box, together with all the wrappers for the components.

This kit consists of one set.

new 24 hour ration (a) repro

Each box has a top and bottom part. The top part is labeled “24 Hour Ration (instructions within)” and the bottom is labeled with the bogus company name “Holland Food Co., Ltd.” with the year 1944.

I printed a new run on brown cardboard as shown in the picture left. The box (right in pic) has been coated with wax. The other pics still show the older box made with grey cardboard printed brown.
The new brown cardboard was chosen after feedback from England and is more like the original cardboard.

There’s an insert of heavy cardboard with creases that, when folded, fits the inner circumfence of the top and bottom and is inserted in the bottom, there by forming a box with the top part serving as a lid. After filling the box, the top and bottom are secured with fabric tape running around the sides to seal the seam. White or brown 1” medical or sport fabric tape can be used for this.

After sealing the box you should wax the whole box just like the K Rations inner carton. (Although I’m not 100% sure about waxing. The cardboard might have been wax-impregnated prior to assembly.)

There’s also an instruction sheet for the soldier on what to use for a meal and how to prepare the food. This leaflet is placed inside the box on top of the food items. This leaflet is copied from an original instruction sheet dated October 1943. However, I labeled it "4-44 H.F. [Holland Food] Co. Ltd." at the bottom.

24-hour ration kit assembled

What a complete ration should look like when assembled and ready to be packed inside the box. (The round candy pictured here actually does not fit with the rest of the components in the box and you should try to find small flat candies.)

Included are all the wrappers for the components. The paper I used is a brown kraft paper with a PE coating on the back to make it greaseproof. The labeling is in dark blue and reads: MEAT, TEA, OATMEAL and SALT.

24-Hour ration Tea box

A small cardboard box is included with each set. This box is 4 x 4 x 4 cm and is exactly the size of the TEA package. You can fill it with whatever you like. Or not use it at all.

I included two different labels for the tea to give you a little choice.

There are also five sheets of glassine paper (8” x 8”) included to wrap the three chocolate bars in, leaving two extra sheets that could be used for packaging the individual tea blocks, bouillon cubes or boiled sweets.

SALT envelope

The SALT envelope is made with the same die-cut I use for the American envelope containing the small can opener (shown right). 

While I was at it, I also printed the wrappers on white paper (also with PE backing). If you prefer to use white wrappers instead of the brown ones, let me know.

Here’s an interesting article about the 24-Hour Ration concerning components and their size:

24-hour ration kit filled

I based my wrappers on their size information, but find it hard to pack everything in the box… By no means is this the only way to pack the components. Other arrangements have been observed.

I placed the four latrine sheets (paper handtowel cut to size to fit the box) at the bottom.
You can see the 10 biscuits stacked sideways next to the meat block.
Under the meat and tea blocks are the two oatmeal blocks placed flat next to each other.
The three slabs of chocolate are placed sideways with the two packages of chewing gum and the four sugar cubes wedged between them and the biscuits.
The four bouillon cubes are resting on the sugar cubes.
The envelope with salt (10 grams) is placed on top of the biscuits.
The remaining space should be filled with (flat) boiled sweets, 15 to 20 pieces (about 4 ounces). The round candies I used in the picture don’t fit, actually. 

The instruction sheet is placed on top of everything before the box is closed, sealed with tape and then waxed.

I tried to reproduce the tea blocks but found it hard to compress them into firm blocks and even found it harder to drink the concoction. Too sweet! (I recommend to use the small cardboard box and fill it with loose tea leaves mixed with a little sugar and powdered milk.)
For the oatmeal blocks you can use those ready-to-eat survival cereal blocks.
There are no off-the-shelf dried meat blocks available that I know of. I think those smaller corned beef tins might fit, although no tins were used in this type of 24 Hour Ration.
The biscuits illustrated are cut down Patria biscuits trimmed to size. If you’re thinking about baking them yourself, here’s the  official wartime specification for the formula: National Flour
(280 lbs), Hydrpogenated Coconut Oil (78 lbs), Sugar (15 lbs) and Salt (2 1/4 lbs). The biscuits should be 2 7/16 by 1 15/16 inches. Eighteen and one half biscuit should weight one pound.
Pakaging the four chewing gum tablets in cellophane is no easy job either!
All in all, this simple looking ration isn't
that easy to recreate.

24hour ration labeled

An official wartime publication of the British 24-Hour Ration with its contents. Note the separately issued stove with fuel tablets on the left. Another publication is shown below right.

24hour ration

Introduced in late 1943, these were issued to invasion troops as a stop gap measure for the first one or two days until the larger “Compo” Rations or food prepared by the field kitchen could be issued. Two of these boxes were issued to the soldiers who were to make the Normandy landings (both seaborne and airborne troops).

About 20 years ago I made a bunch for a friend of mine. These were printed on brown kraft cardboard and, when waxed, realy looked the part. So much so that one is on display at the Pegasus Airborne museum in Normandy! Due to frequent requests to reproduce the British 24-Hour Ration I decided to give it a go again and dusted off the one repro box I still kept all these years. (And found out that it did not quite fit the larger mess tin!)

Since originals are very rare and I don’t know anybody who has one, I based the dimensions of this new reproduction kit on the reproduction one I made years ago, info I found in books and the internet, and advice from friends. (The dimensions are approximately 5 x 6 x 2.5 inch.) These new reproductions now do fit the larger mess tin!
This time I used grey cardboard (the same I used for the K Ration cartons), but printed the outside all over with brown ink. When waxed with paraffin, they look really good, I think. See picture below.

24 hour ration (b) repro

The British 24-Hour Ration boxes. The box sealed with white tape is coated with paraffin and appears slighly darker.

eating the ration in the field 2

Although blurry, it appears that the soldier just openend a 24-Hour Ration. Photos of this ration in field use are extremely rare.

large 000000 (1) copy 224 hour ration fits repro

The contens of this ration changed little from its introduction in 1943 until late 1944 or early 1945 when the contents were changed and tinned items were added, becoming the equal of the newly introduced tinned jungle ration (pictured left).

The ration box not only fits the large mess tin, but also the carrier for the water bottle. Below is a picture of a glider trooper who appears to be carrying his 24-Hour Ration in this manner.

ration in water bottle holdder

Although almost obscured by a sunflower, the trooper holding an American "handie talkie” radio has a 24-Hour Ration secured in a water bottle carrier (indicated by the red arrow). Holland, September 1944.