In about 1943 the Australian Army started packing small combination spoon/tin opener/bottle openers in their ration packs. These simple devices, similar in concept to the US P-38 can opener, are still produced today and are officially known as the ‘field ration eating device’ or FRED:
The end of the FRED has a shallow spoon stamped into the metal:
The spoon is so shallow that it is often hard to eat very liquid foods such as soups or stews as they do not stay on the spoon. This has led to Aussie troops, in typical style, renaming the device the ‘f*cking ridiculous eating device’.
Half way down the FRED is a folding can opener, that hinges flat against the main part of the eating device:
This hinges out to approximately 95 degrees:
Also included is a small bottle opener:
One soldier explained:
…they worked quite well actually. No one could answer why it had a bottle opener on it when beer wasn’t in any part of a standard ration pack. Australia. You always need a bottle opener, because beer always finds its way in somehow.
The FRED has an NSN number, date and broad arrow mark stamped down the centre:
These FREDs are still issued today, although a plastic spork is also included in modern CR1M ration packs. Another ex Australian soldier explained how he used his:
a great tool… slim and lightweight and could be fitted in many a small space… in your Tank Suit (old type) you could slip them into a space like a pen pocket … so you always had one .. you never know when you will get some free food without spoon and opener.. you could eat anything with it…
The ‘Spork’ has never made an appearance in the CR1M ration packs. It is a plastic table spoon, the design of which changed about 10 years ago (?) when it was found the spoon would bend out of shape once immersed in boiling water – it is now much thicker. I’ve found many ex-servicemen still retain at least one FRED in a readily accessible area – in many cases (including mine) it is the only reliable can opener in the house!
[…] ration packs came with the ‘Field Ration Eating Device’ (FRED) which we looked at here, this was never a particularly popular choice for the men as it was small and difficult to eat […]