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"Rations as a Factor in Paratroop Efficiency" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A report on German paratrooper rations, from the Intelligence Bulletin, June 1944.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]


It is popularly but wrongly supposed that German paratroopers are granted special ration privileges at all times. Membership in German parachute units (as in the case of U.S. Army parachute units) is on a voluntary basis, and in this connection the Germans put out a good deal of propaganda about special rations, to attract volunteers. The truth is that enemy paratroops receive special rations only just before actual parachute operations. When these soldiers are to go into combat as ordinary infantrymen, no additional rations are issued.

However, the specially planned rations that are given to German paratroopers prior to jumping (both in training and in combat) have a significance, the importance of which will not escape the intelligent U.S. fighting man. These rations include items which are not only attractive to the Germans, thereby building morale, but which will actually increase the physical stamina of the paratroop personnel. Incidentally, the special rations, creating a heartier appetite, lead to greater consumption of ordinary food; although the latter may be less attractive, they are energy-giving and naturally help to improve physical fitness.

White bread and dairy products, such as milk and fresh eggs, are considered real luxuries by the German soldiers; these items normally are not issued to troops of the other arms and services as part of the regular diet. On the day that a jump is to be made, German paratroopers are given the following, in addition to their normal ration:

approx. .7 lb. white bread
approx. .25 lb. crackers
approx. .06 lb. butter
approx. 1 pt. fresh milk
1 fresh egg

A ration of an entirely different kind is issued on days when long flights are to be made. The Germans have studied the nutritional benefits of specialized rations, and have concluded that on long flights regular rations sit too heavily on the stomach. The rations described below are issued only when two flights of two hours duration are to be made, or a single flight lasting four hours or more.

approx. .16 lb. crystallized fruits
approx. .25 lb. crackers
approx. .01 lb. sugar
approx. .04 lb. butter
1 bar of chocolate substitute

Analysis of this ration indicates that it contains an abundance of energy-giving foods which will sustain an individual without causing gastric discomfort.

The Germans have adopted an iron ration which is intended to last for a three-day period during operations. This emergency ration is similar to those developed by the United States and Great Britain. A ration of this bulk can easily be carried on the person, and provides the necessary "lift" for a man to carry out the most arduous tasks. It consists of:

2 cans of sausage
2 cans of cheese
1 bar of chocolate substitute
1 package of crackers
6 packages of chewing gum
1 package of lemonade powder
1 package of coffee mixed with sugar
1 tablet of solid fuel for heating

The iron rations are intended to make the German paratrooper self-sufficient for a limited period of time. Inclusion of the fuel tablet allows him to prepare a hot beverage, and yet maintain individual security precautions. This tablet burns for about 5 minutes, yielding a smokeless white flame 2 or 3 inches high.

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