John Brownbill and John Jarrett - How to cook a turkey

Running time
1 min 58 sec

Department of Veterans' Affairs


JB: Our boys in Australia used to send us up, the government send us up, large lots of one pound tins of butter. And we'd go round the Americans and give them two cans - one for the Colonel and one for the Quartermaster - and they'd fill up a three ton truck of food for you. And one of the things was big capon turkeys. They looked like emus. Now they had some rubbish around them, and deep frozen mind you, and this rubbish, of course we didn't know what it was. Years before we got it. It was polythene or king-sized Gladwrap or something. At 40 below, or 20 or 30 below, how in the hell are you going thaw that in a field kitchen? So they'd throw it into deep fry and let her go. And the polythene would float to the surface, they'd chuck it away. And they'd pull it out - this put me off poultry for years - and they'd serve it up with a sort of machete. The outside would be charcoal and the inside would still be cold and bleeding.

JJ: One day a week we used to get dehydrated cabbage and powered eggs.

JB: Yeah, remember the powdered potato mash? Oh god.

JJ: It was shocking stuff. At the time I was the only Australian in the unit. There was an Australian unit manned by Pommy national servicemen and I was the Australian representative. So I had the job of going and picking up the rations. On the Wednesday I used to get in my truck and drive over to the Quartermen. They'd load up all this dehydrated stuff, then I'd do the rounds of the Yankee camps and swapping it for different things. You'd be surprised what you could get for a case of bully beef. You know, legs of ham and chickens.

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