Bully Beef


Men of the 2nd Australian Division in a front-line trench cooking a meal, Croix du Bac, near Armentieres. A variety of cooking methods were employed including primus stoves and braziers and soldiers produced a lunch of hot ‘bully beef’ hash from tins of corned beef.         © IWM (Q 583)

Last Thursday we shared a story about Canadians using tins of bully beef, (generally known as corned beef today), to lure enemy troops into a raiding trap (full story). While not the best, nor the worst food available, the troops eventually grew restless of eating bully beef day after day – hence their willingness to “feed it to the Germans”. The tins of bully beef were often re-purposed for other more practical means. Once emptied of their contents they were often “recycled” by troops who turned them over and stamped them into the ground, shoring up their footing in the muddy trenches. Behind the front at the armouries, the tins were melted down for solder. Interestingly bully beef was only just removed from British military rations in 2009, after over a century of service.


Empty bully-beef tins being put into a “Beehive” kiln for the extraction of solder. Etaples, 16 May 1918. © IWM (Q 8789).

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