U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division supply sergeant, leaning on an M-29 Weasel. Crate on top contains Mountain Rations. Photo: during D Series training, Camp Hale, CO, March-May 1944. Source: Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library.
At the beginning of World War II there was an interest in developing special equipment for forces with specialized missions, particularly jungle and mountain troops. During the war equipment such as the Mountain Rucksack and the Jungle Pack were fielded for the Army in the Pacific Theater, the 10th Mountain Division or the First Special Service Force. Special rations were developed for such purposes as well as emergency rations for air crews, lifeboats, and other limited use. The original trio were the Mountain, Jungle, and 5-in-1 Rations; their common successor was called "Ration, 10-in-1." In the latter part of the war, the trend reversed and most of the special rations were phased out in favor of the standard Army Field Rations.
The U.S. Army Mountain Ration
U.S. Army Mountain Ration, Subsistence Research Laboratory, Chicago, IL, March 1943.
At severe altitudes solid foods are undesirable, but sweets, fruits, and soups are well tolerated. After experimentation at the Quartermaster's Chicago Subsistence Research Laboratory, the Mountain Ration was developed for use by "Alpine Troops", the 10th Mountain Division and the First Special Service Force (FSSF) in particular. The ration contained 4,800 calories and items of adequate roughage capable of slow digestion. The Mountain Ration came in four varieties, packed in fiber cartons, each containing the rations of four men for three meals (one day). Three menus included Carter's spread (a butter substitute), soluble coffee, dry milk, biscuits, hard candy, cereal (three varieties), dehydrated cheese, D ration bars, fruit bars, gum, lemon-juice powder, dehydrated soup, salt, sugar, tea, cigarettes, and toilet paper, and other components as in the photo above. The emphasis was on high caloric value in small packages, and ease of eating and digestion in mountain conditions.
The components were assembled in a solid fiber carton labeled "U. S. Army Mountain Ration." Three cartons, one of each menu, were over-packed in a similarly labeled outer carton.
The Mountain Ration was not popular since it was excessively heavy to transport in the mountains and required cooking or at least heating. One 10th MD soldier in Italy, after experiencing the time delay, noise and clutter of preparing the Mountain Ration, commented that it must have been developed by the Axis.
600,000 rations were procured in 1942 and an additional one and one-quarter million were procured early in 1943, the last procurement. During its lifetime, the Mountain Ration was issued not only to 10th MD and FSSF, but also to British troops in the Pacific and some isolated groups in other areas.
World War II U.S. Army Jungle Ration
The potential for extensive fighting in tropical regions of the Pacific or south Asia generated the request for a jungle ration. Specifications followed the Mountain Ration design, to feed four men for one day. The Jungle Ration included canned meat, dry milk, peanuts, biscuits, precooked cereal, gum, cigarettes, hard candy, cocoa beverage powder, soluble coffee, fruit bars, lemon powder, raisins, salt, sugar, and toilet tissue. Components were compactly assembled in a specially constructed solid fiber carton.
More than 9,600,000 Jungle Ration units were procured in 1942 and 425,000 more early in 1943. However, the Jungle Ration had no advantage over K Rations for the tactical situation. Along with the Mountain Ration it was quickly phased out, replaced by standard rations.
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