Bill Keiha describes the food in Korea

Wiremu (Bill) Keiha, of Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga-a Māhaki, was a signalman with the 7th Reinforcements in the Korean War. Here he discusses food in Korea with oral historian Pip Desmond.


Wiremu ‘I had no criticism of the food, none at all. I’ve had worse feeding cooking for myself sometimes. [Laughs].

Pip  Anything stand out?

Wiremu The only thing that stood out was the dried eggs and the tinned bacon. It was all Pommy.

Pip You mean egg powder?

Wiremu Yea. You had scrambled eggs. At the time the Pommy bacon was greasy and terrible, it was the way it was cooked. You had a five pound tin of tinned bacon, sliced and wrapped up in greaseproof paper. And the industry that produced it musta had miles and miles of greaseproof paper because as they cut the bacon off it was put down in slices and then rolled until it reached the weight, the required weight and then tinned and sealed. And it was very very greasy. And it was edible, but you always, you always looked around for a handkerchief or a towel to wipe your lips. When we retired behind the demarcation line, we used to steal that bacon, when I joined George Troop because we discovered that the paddy fields behind where our camp was, puha grew. And some of us would march off and pick this puha, for some reason or other it was the only place it grew and I think it was mainly because no Koreans were allowed there, it was out of bounds and it was also a mine field. But we found some ways of getting through it and we’d go off and get a pack of puha and one of the boys would whip into the cook’s store and pinch the potatoes we wanted, or anything else we wanted. Someone’d go and pinch a couple of tins of this bacon and we’d have a four-gallon tin and we’d boil this up and some of the lads would duck off to the canteen at the time and the others that didn’t drink would stay back and when they came back we’d have a big nosh up, like they called in Maori, boil up [laughs]. That’s sort of side-tracking the issue.

Pip You put the bacon to good-use.

Wiremu Yes we did, we found out that perhaps the puha removed the grease [laughs].’

Bill Keiha

Bill Keiha, 2011

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