The need to have a restoring drink in the field has led to many national idiosyncrasies in essential equipment provided to soldiers- the French and Italians had military issue coffee grinders, the US Army ensured its GIs could always have a Coca Cola and of course the British Army did its best to ensure there was always facilities for its soldiers to have a hot cup of tea. Out of the front line this was fairly easy with tea urns and NAAFI vans providing Tommy with a hot wet- in the front lines getting a hot cup of tea was more problematic and an instant tea was issued with milk and sugar already included in the mix so a soldier just had to add water. This was issued in the standard sized tin used for emergency rations, cigarettes etc:The lid of the tin has instructions on how to brew up the tea:TEA RATION 5oz
(Containing Tea, Sugar and Soluble Milk Powder)
Use dry spoon and sprinkle powder on the heated water and bring to the boil, stirring until the milk powder is completely dissolved. The contents of the tin are sufficient for 6 pints of tea. For small quantities, 1 oz (3 heaped teaspoonfuls) are to be added to each pint of water.
The tea contained in this tin was not, by all accounts, particularly good and the closest modern equivalent is something like QT. Despite this, a hot drink would have been very welcome and there are many stories of British troops stopping during a lull in the fighting to brew up. This tin has a maker’s stamp impressed in the base:As can be seen this tin is not in the best condition, however inside the tin is a small note saying it was found in a farm near Bernay on the Normandy battlefield. This makes it a bit special as it was actually a piece of equipment that went over to France and has not just sat unissued in stores. My thanks go to Andy Dixon for this item.