Dennis Davis - Supply problems

Running time
3 min
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Then, of course, a bigger problem was keeping up supplies, meat and things like that, we lived on bully beef and biscuits most of the time. Sometimes we got…and tomato sauce. We even got eggs sometimes, we got egg powder. So there wasn't much variety in our food. We had no fresh vegetable, no fresh fruit. I know a couple of blokes downstairs were talking about having oranges at one stage. I never saw any oranges there.

I think something just came in on a ship and they saw it there and got a hold, but food, there was always enough food but mainly bully beef and we'd heat, the first thing you'd do was open up the can and pour it out and all that fat that came with the bully beef would come down and you'd pour it out in the sand and eat the rest of it.

The hard tack biscuits were so hard you had to soak them in water to eat them properly and water was in short supply and it was horrible tasting bore water and we used that to drink when we're thirsty and when it came to washing, putting your hand in it and over your face like that, ‘cause there were no showers, nothing like that there and when it came to washing your clothes, well…we were fortunate because our petrol came in square four gallon tins and we'd cut those in half, turn down the edges and we'd use one of those to put our water in, put half an inch of water in and we'd wash ourselves down like that.

I remember one chap who was halfway through washing and of course, was caught in an air raid and he had to jump in a slit trench and cut his feet on the way through and he was in hospital for two weeks but those sort of things happened. You never knew when those raids were coming. As far as cleaning your clothes, well, they were really thick with sand.

Even when you washed your body the sand from your body would sink in the bottom of your water, so the water was a problem. So there were occasions towards the end of the siege when we got fresh meat. It was the only time we ever got fresh meat and we had I suppose you'd call it a roast dinner that day. But it wasn't quite fresh and it was the only time I got what they called desert fever, desert belly, there was no refrigeration there and with the heat the cooks just couldn't keep the meat fresh.

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