The military nutrition experts had a hand in the design of these little brown boxes filled with things that were supposed to be good for us.
There were three varieties, (A), (B) or (C) packs, but Heaven alone knows what the difference between them was. They looked exactly the same.
Inside these “Jamstealer Gift Boxes” there were all sorts of exciting things. Every one had a pack of “biscuits”. These would have made a hyena stop laughing and, if you were to glue them to yourself, there would have been no cause for the invention of Kevlar body armour. If you soaked them in water or boiled the living daylights out of them, you got a sort of gooey target paste, which tasted exactly like…gooey target paste. The Rhodesian bush, when archaeologists from the future start rummaging around, will yield up millions of these slightly pale, oversized dominoes. It will puzzle them too that they will be dug up in close proximity to the shattered remains of the teeth of powerfully jawed carnivores and hominids.
The tins of “Braised Liver” were of great interest. We had never seen green liver before and especially liver that smelled like the inside of a Sumo wrestler’s jock strap. Few of us actually ate it, so it is not possible to describe the taste. I feel sure it would have been memorable.
In a little silver and gold foil sachet could be found the notorious “Curry Powder” packed by Messrs Khatri Brothers of Salisbury. I never did meet with one of these brothers so I was unable to ask how they had managed to discover a wrapping foil so robust that it could contain this “Universal Solvent”…it went straight through anything, turned everything yellow and yet somehow proved to be a very effective radiator sealant for Bedfords and Landrovers.
A favourite was the “Condensed Milk”. This was Nestle’s finest and came in small tins or, at one time, in plastic tubes. As tea was always welcome out in the bundu this was a very tradable commodity.
Some “ratpacks” very thoughtfully provided a few sheets of the famous “Bronco” toilet paper which was savage stuff, but still preferable to the use of large leaves for personal hygiene needs. There were a lot of stinging nettles in parts of Rhodesia…
“Baked Beans” were almost always included in the ration, so quiet nights were often punctuated by intermittent blasts of flatulence, which put even the elephant to flight.
The sustenance was always welcome, but the side effects were not.
Some contained little tins of jellied methylated spirits. The idea was that you opened this tin and found a way to perch your mess tin of graze an inch or two above the flame. I bought a very clever Swedish designed petrol primus from a camping store in Salisbury. This little gem came in it’s own canister which doubled as two cooking pots and required no priming or pumping. As long as you could filch half a pint of army petrol you only had to warm the tank with your hands to send enough up the stem to set fire to it. In a minute or two the thing would be purring contentedly and a little later a brew could be enjoyed while your mates were still trying to coax their stoves into life. It was swiped shortly before I left the army and I have never found a replacement. To the thief I say, “May your chickens all choke and the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits!”
- Beaver Shaw
- Nairobi, Kenya
- I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011
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