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?
That’s a really interesting post Paul and a wonderful picture. ! I have to say the bread looks quite good.
05/09/2012 at 19:23
Thanks Gen – yes, it does look good!
05/09/2012 at 19:36
I’m putting together a book about men from Risca in s Wales who died in WW1. One of the men, John Andrews was in the 11th Field Bakery and died in 1917. I was wondering if I could have permission to include the photo and some of the text from
19/12/2015 at 22:16
Hi Steve please email me on email@example.com
20/12/2015 at 15:19
Fantastic picture. Never seen anything like this before and I agree, the bread looks rather delicious.
06/09/2012 at 07:41
My Great Grandfather Gardner Hogg was a private in a ASC bakery unit from march 1915 (his older brother James Hogg had just been killed in January of 1915 serving with the 2nd Devonshire regiment). Gardner was cumpulsary transferred to the KRRC in 1917 and later suffered gas poisioning. He served 8 months in the Dandelles too! God rest them both.
24/05/2013 at 11:26
Interesting, I would love to know more. I am writing a book about the Field Bakeries and would love to feature individual stories
26/04/2014 at 15:38
My great grandad’s father was a baker from Nottingham. In 1916 he was a private in the 11th Field Bakery ASC, initially stationed in Boulogne sur Mer, France by the looks of it. In July 1916 he was in the 20th Field Bakery ASC. I don’t know much more, but is there anywhere to keep up to date with your book progression?
01/05/2014 at 13:28
Hi Andrew, would love to know your great great grandfather’s name and if you have a photograph that would be brilliant. Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org with the information and then I can let you know about my progress, it is quite fascinating
04/05/2014 at 18:06
Hi Janet, My great great grandfather was in the 5th Field Bakery, I would love to learn more about everything that went on.
I am trying to track down a photo but his name was Joseph Mersky
13/11/2014 at 01:05
Hi Melissa will add Joseph to my list of bakers.Right in the middle of discovering info hopefully won’t disappoint when I manage to pull it all together
13/11/2014 at 21:38
Here’s a summary of Gardener Hogg’s Great War military career …
22 Mar 1915 to 30 Jun 1915 – Home Service with ASC
01 Jul 1915 to 05 Mar 1916 – Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli with 11th Field Bakery, ASC
06 Mar 1916 to 19Oct 1917 – British Expeditionary Force, France & Flanders, with 16th Field Bakery, ASC
20 Oct 1917 to 16 Feb 1919 – compulsory transferred to the 17th and then 16th Bns, KRRC as a rifleman, ending attached to the 100th Brigade Trench Mortar Battery.
17 Feb 1919 to 17 Mar 1919 – Home Service with KRRC (mostly on demobilization leave, then discharged to Class Z Army Reserve)
02/05/2019 at 08:13
If anyone has more photos of bread, bakers, boulangeries etc during WWI I would be pleased to see them as I am helping a boulanger in France with a ‘Bread in WWI’ exposition over the centenary years. Of particular interest are photos involving Australians and bread, or anything in Corbie, France.
03/06/2014 at 17:31
I would love to know more I have collected a lot of information
02/12/2014 at 22:37
do you have any on the 5th field bakery / 351 Coy RSC
17/12/2014 at 19:36
My Grandfather was in the 5th field bakery and would like any info on the 5th WW1 think they served at Homs regards lloyd
17/12/2014 at 19:29
HE WAS POSTED TO 351 COY RSC
17/12/2014 at 19:37
My Great Uncle, Raymond McLeod Murray, was a Sergeant in the 19th A.A.S.C 2nd Field Bakery.
A photograph of the bakery at Rouen, France is available at:
I have copies of all the war diaries kept by the unit and they make very interesting reading. They are available in PDF format through the Australian War Memorial.
Item number: 25/39/1 covers September 1915 – December 1917
Item number: 25/39/2 covers January 1918
Item number: 25/39/6 covers May 1918
Item number: 25/39/7 covers June 1918
I would be very interested to learn more information should anyone know.
19/04/2015 at 11:56
My great uncle Albert Alexander Lloyd served in the 52nd Field Bakery, ASC. He died on 15 December 1915 and is buried at St Sever Cemetery, Rouen. I would really like a photo and more information about the Rouen bakery which would be very welcome for our family history book we are putting together, for our children and grandchildren. He was 37 when he died. He was a private, service number S2,SR/03323.
05/10/2015 at 05:15
Wonderful to know about your great uncle I shall put him with the information I have collected. I have lots of information which I am putting together into a book and hope to be able to tell of the amazing work these unsung heroes performed. The sheer scale of the number of loaves they produced 6 days a week, week in week out is quite staggering, flour shortages, air raids, exploding ovens and still the troops were fed.
18/10/2015 at 17:50
That’s fantastic that you are researching these young men who fed the troops. It would have been a horrendous schedule to keep up with, given the setbacks they had. Good luck with your book and if I can unearth anything else which I think will be of use to you I will contact you. All the very best.
19/10/2015 at 00:07
19/10/2015 at 17:10
Dear Janet, Please let us know when your book is available. Would really love a copy.
31/10/2016 at 04:10
Thank you I will
01/11/2016 at 12:16
My great grandfather was here. I am putting together as much information as I can. By the second part of the war it was the largest bakery in the world! It was constantly subject to air raids. The regime was relentless 24 hours a day 6 days a week. The men got to breaking point and threatened to strike! It’s taken me 2 years so far, I’ve just looking a few more original sources before drawing it all together.
08/07/2016 at 21:17
My grandfather Pte. Frank Langton (a baker by trade) was in the 23rd Field Bakery in July 1917. I do have a photo of 14 guys and dog outside the hut.
10/03/2016 at 16:24
Would love to see this. I am researching the bakers and have uncovered quite a bit of information
08/07/2016 at 21:09
Just putting together all my research so hopefully have something to put out next year. It has been almost 3 years of research! Would you be willing to share your photograph?
Look forward to hearing from you
30/10/2016 at 11:55
So happy to find a site that has details of field bakeries. My grandfather was in the 3rd field bakery 23rd battalion (Australia) 15th reinforcement based in Rouen and was there from 1916 to 1919. I have only records of his comings and goings (leave, sickness, etc.) but not much information on what was happening on site. He was CO from 17/3/1917.
08/07/2016 at 01:13
I’ll add him to the list of bakers I have found. My great grandfather was staff Sgt in charge of one of the bakeries at Rouen and was awarded the DCM. I have uncovered lots of information which I am putting together will hopefully be able to publish.
08/07/2016 at 20:18
Hello Janet. My grandfather from Norfolk was in 25th Field Bakery. W J Regester, born 1866. I have just found that out today and would love to know where they were stationed or anything at all about 25th FB. If you have any info. at all about them I would be really interested.
26/10/2016 at 18:23
I’ll add your grandfather to my list. I’ve spent almost 3 years researching. Very few diaries survive and quite a number are just logs of numbers of loaves baked! I am attempting to put together a book? Fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted.
01/11/2016 at 12:18
do you have any info on the 5th field bakery / 351 Coy RSC where they served etc my Grandfather was in the 5th
06/11/2016 at 22:35
Hi I have very little information, as no war diary has survived for the 5th. I am in the process of trying to map the various bakeries and piece together what life would have been like for them based on my research.
If you let me have your grandfather’s name I can add him to my growing list. At some point I may even be able to give you details of other bakers who may have served with him. It is a gigantic jigsaw with quite a few pieces missing and I’m nearly there. Hope to hear from you.
08/11/2016 at 18:35
My grandfather (adopted dad) was in the 348th Bakery Company in France and as I understand it, they supported an aviation command of some sort. I am here looking at his helmet and mess kit with my grandson and it has Wood Green and 348th Bakery company roughly engraved on the bottom outside of the kit. His full name was Thomas Woodward Green
23/01/2017 at 05:09
Thank you for this information. I will add Thomas Woodward Green to my list of bakers. Was this bakery section a British or US bakery section? It would wonderful to see a photograph of the kit you have, would this be possible?
04/04/2017 at 16:58
My husband’s father, Victor N. Gregory, was a baker with the 348th Bakery Company in France. I have letters from him from boot camp and from France. Also, have a long picture of the bakers at his boot camp in Camp Kearny in California.
09/04/2017 at 03:56
Hi Mary Lou, after 3 years of research I am writing a book about bread and the Great War. Would love to learn more about your relative. I have pieced together a lot of information from hundreds of sources but there are next to no complete narratives that I have managed to find. Would love to be able to share your information. Please get in touch email@example.com I will be happy to explain what I have managed to achieve this far Janet
26/08/2017 at 21:10