A HISTORICAL and rare wartime find has been made in a museum in Dorchester.
Staff at the Keep Military Museum in Dorchester have discovered a World War II ration pack believed to be the only complete assault ration pack in the world.
The Assault Ration Pack was issued to British and Commonwealth soldiers for the D-Day landings and was designed to support troops for an additional 24 hours while supply chains were established.
Museum Director Elliot Metcalfe said: “D-Day is at the heart of the story we tell here as our regiments – 2nd Devons and 1st Dorsets landed on Gold Beach near Arromanches at 7.30am this morning- the.
“In fact, the 1st Dorsets – with the 1st Hampshires alongside them – were the first British infantry to land on D-Day.
“We’re very proud of that – and delighted to have found that ration pack that every soldier carried that day.
“It’s strange to think that this seems to be the only one left in the world.”
Originally found in 2006, the sealed ration pack was misidentified as a 1950s item. However, when it was recently re-examined for a display of military rations, the museum director immediately recognized it like the extremely rare WWII assault rations.
Remarkably, x-rays of the ration pack show all the original contents still inside – including biscuits, boiled sweets and tea. The Keep Museum is grateful to its friends at Fishbourne Roman Palace for their expert help in x-raying the box.
The rations were packed in a waxed cardboard box, which was sealed to help keep the contents water- and gas-tight. Their small size allowed them to be transported in a bowl.
They were a lightweight solution to provide a soldier with the 4,000 calories he needed per day.
The package contained 10 cookies, two blocks of oatmeal, blocks of tea, sugar and milk, a block of meat, two bars of raisin chocolate, a bar of dark chocolate, hard candy, two packets of chewing gum, a packet of salt, meat extract tablets, four sugar tablets and four pieces of latrine paper.
June 6 marked 78 years since the D-Day landings and Allied invasion of Normandy, laying the groundwork for victory in Europe and ultimately the end of World War II.