10-in-1 Small Detatchment Ration

Ration, 10-in-1, Small Detatchment.  Typical menus unpacked
Ration, 10-in-1, Small Detatchment. Typical menus unpacked.

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10-in-1 Army Small Unit Ration

The "Ration, 10-in-1" was designed to feed groups of men, primarily motorized infantry or tank crews in armored units. Inspired by the success of British 14-in-1 "compo" rations, and the first 5-in-1 ration, the 10-in-1 ration offered one day of meals — breakfast, evening supper, and a midday snack — for 10 soldiers. The 10-in-1 was introduced in mid-1943 and over 300 million rations were produced by the end of World War II.

The possibility of packaging a field ration in units of 10, with an approximate weight of 50 pounds, was suggested as early as 1941. But little or nothing was done about this suggestion until the spring of 1943. At that time, conditions in the battle areas called for such a type of ration. The purpose of this ration was to serve as the principle ration for subsistence of troops in all areas in advance of the field kitchen, but prior to engaging in actual combat, for troops isolated in small groups, and for highly mobile troops. The general specifications for the ration were set in early 1943, and by the end of April of the same year the project had been completed. Several late changes were effected on the ration before it was finally adopted in the fall of 1943.

The Quartermaster Subsistence Research Laboratory, established in 1936, was involved in the development of the 10-in-1 making contributions to dehydration, to compression of foodstuffs, packaging, conservation, storage, and transportation.

Description of the 10-in-1 Ration

Ration, 10-in-1, Small Detatchment.  Outer and inner cartons
Ration, 10-in-1, Small Detatchment. Outer and inner cartons.

The 10-in-1 ration is composed of 5 menus, varying in calories between 8500-4050 and supplying between 91 and 121 grams of protein. The vitamin and mineral content was slightly below requirements, and the ration weighed 5 more pounds than specifications called for.

The full day's rations were divided into two sets of two cartons, each set with food for five men so it could feed ten men for a day or five men for two days (or even one man for ten days). The four cartons were placed into a larger packing carton. Each separate carton contained one of five different menus containing a wide variety of canned food and accessory items such as cigarettes, matches, can openers, toilet tissue, soap, water purification tablets, and paper towels.

How the 10-in-1 Ration Was Used

The 10-in-1 was designed for feeding groups of men in the field, in isolated conditions. It was assumed some cooking could be arranged so the individual items could be heated as needed. The original group targeted was armor crews but many others came to "enjoy" the charms of the 10-in-1.

One example that has been preserved in written memories of World War II was its use with aircraft operating from England, during 1944-45. The 10-in-1 Ration was authorized for operational use, issued to each aircraft in the event the mission was diverted. If the ration was not used, the carton was returned to the commissary when the mission returned.

Use of the 10-in-1 by Marine Raiders in Pacific, has also been noted, on Okinawa in June 1945. Although not normally used by the Marines, 10-in-1 rations, obtained from the Army, were issued to some units.

When the 10-in-1 program ended in 1948, the 5-in-1 pack was developed as the "Ration, Small-Detachment, 5-in-1"

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