WW1 Field Bakers: Bread for the Troops
There is an old adage that an army marches on its stomach, and by 1914 the British Army realised that to fight even a short war in Europe it would have to provide the required infrastructure to feed it’s troops on campaign. Much of this work was done by the Army Service Corps (ASC) and one of it’s key units in providing part of the staple diet was the Field Bakery. In 1914 there was one Field Bakery in every infantry division. Staffed by one officer and ninety-two men from the ASC it could produce enough bread for more than 20,000 men. Because of the nature of their work they did not set up these bakeries near the front, and many in 1914/15 were based in locations like Rouen and Abbeville, and a little nearer the front in St Omer and Hazebrouck. They tended to be static units that did not move around much.
This image shows the inside of a Field Bakery in France in 1914/15. A Non Commissioned Officer from the ASC is in the background overseeing the work and the men are in work aprons sorting and stacking the loaves so they can then be sent off to the troops at the front. Who the young lad at the front is, is something of a mystery; while there were many boy soldiers this one looks especially young; perhaps he was a local helping out?