During World War Two, when, as a result of missions, soldiers would be unable to access a field kitchen, standard field ration packs was supplied. The rations for American soldiers tended to be more generous than those of their British counterparts. A typical ration pack for one day comprised the following-
Breakfast : 1 can of ham, veal or eggs, biscuits, 1 bar of fruit paste, 1 bag of coffee, a pack of 4 cigarettes, chewing gum, 3 pieces of sugar, water purification tablets, 1 key to open the can.
Dinner: 1 can of cooked cheese, ham or ham and cheese, fighting biscuits, 15 bags of milk powder (original ration) or 5 caramels (subsequent rations), a pack of 4 cigarettes, 3 pieces of sugar, salt, Matches, juice powder (lemon flavour 1942, orange in 1943 then grape in 1945), 1 key to open the can.
Supper: 1 can of chicken pâté, or pork-carrots-apples, or beef-pork or sausages, fighting biscuits, 1 small bar of chocolate (or sweets for the warm countries), Toilet paper, a pack of 4 cigarettes, 3 pieces of sugar, chewing gum, powdered or cube soup, 1 key to open the can.
Whilst in North Africa, Josephine Baker undertook a number of missions. She secretly gathered intelligence for the Free French Forces under the leadership of General de Gaulle to whom she was intensely loyal. She also performed for British and U.S.A. troops to help maintain morale. Her performances before US troops were used as a means of fighting segregation which then existed between fighting units. Josephine refused to perform before divided audiences saying
“We've got to show that blacks and whites are treated equally in the army. Otherwise, what's the point of waging war on Hitler?”
During this period Josephine regularly travelled by jeep crossing thousands of kilometres of desert. Before setting out, her entourage, would, with a requisition slip be supplied with the exact amount of provisions required for the journey.
Imagine setting out to cross the Saraha desert-journey time three days- with the designated amount of fuel calculated as necessary for the journey and with three days of ration supplies.
Ignoring the dangers which such a journey would have occasioned at the time, the routine difficulties of travel could have proved disastrous- if they took a wrong turning so putting pressure on the fuel supplies or if the jeep broke down.
At night the group slept in army tents camping on stony areas beside the road for fear of exploding land mines.
It is difficult to imagine Josephine Baker, the only black woman who ever danced for the Zeigfield Follies, the woman who strolled down the Champs Elysees dressed in the finest couture Paris could offer with a cheetah by her side, the woman described by Ernest Hemingway as “the most sensational woman anybody ever saw,” sitting on the ground, around a camp fire, army tent in the background, alone but for a few companions and the eerie echoes of the desert at night, munching hungrily into a can of bully beef, but it appears to have been an experience which she thrived upon despite the pressures these journeys put upon her health.
Author Josephine, singer, dancer, soldier, spy.