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Sound: POW remembers Red Cross parcels

Audio file

Hear William Duncan talking about food in POW camps. 


See you were entitled to rations of so much rice and so much bread and so much sugar and so much per man, per day. Pretty skimpy. Based on was supposed to be based on the host nation's rations of the lower order-whether they were or not it was doubtful... So the Red Cross supplemented, so that's why they put the vegetables and the stuff that could be combined into one mess and cooked and [this] was used to supplement meals. Then you got stuff like butter, biscuits, chocolate, things like that individual ...and milk, condensed milk. People used to operate that in a funny way. Your system craved for something sweet in those places, so people would take cocoa and mix it up with the condensed milk and some of them would take it in one go - did the whole lot in one thing, otherwise ... some would take a bit each day you see?. And tea, of course you used to get tea. That was the sort of saving grace of the whole lot really, but the stuff that was to be yours individually, like butter, that you didn't use all the time, was kept in the store room in your name so you could store it without... you could get it when you wanted.


Audio: William Duncan interview, 08.02.02, side 4

Image: Detail from Red Cross food parcels for prisoners of war

How to cite this page

Sound: POW remembers Red Cross parcels, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated