Collection of army rations down the years tells its own story of conflict

Daisy Fearns, Diss Museum collections manager at the museum with a new collection of war rations down the ages from a local collector. ANL-150923-140328009

Daisy Fearns, Diss Museum collections manager at the museum with a new collection of war rations down the ages from a local collector. ANL-150923-140328009

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The story of conflicts over the last 100 years or more is to be told through the rations of the soldiers who served in them.

Diss Museum is hosting the exhibition of Bressingham collector Jonathan Young’s array of unopened rations boxes, containers and tins.

They range from the Oxo cubes, cocoa and pemmican supplied for those serving in the Boer War at the turn of the 20th Century, up to a modern day 2009 RAF ration supplied with the ejector seat of a jet fighter, and everything in between.

Mr Young said: “I will never open these items. The magic and curiosity evaporates if they are ever opened.

“I regard them as time capsules that were, perhaps fortunately, never needed.”

There are interesting and surprising details, like the Royal Navy pilot’s ration which contained no food, only first aid supplies, and the crammed US Army ration supplied in the Vietnam War, which contained everything from medication and food to fishing line and chewing gum.

Daisy Fearns, museum joint collections manager, said: “What is going on show is going to be just a fraction of what has been distilled down.

“It is interesting looking at how the whole technology developed.”

The display is part of the museum’s Community Cabinet scheme, which gives people in the community who have an interesting collection the chance to showcase it to the public.

The project is run in conjunction with SHARE Museums East. Anyone who has a collection which they think may be of interest can contact the museum by email disscollections@gmail.com or by calling 01379 650618.

The collection is now on show, and will be until the museum closes for the winter at the end of October. Diss Museum is in Market Place and opens Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2-4pm, and Fridays and Saturdays 10am-4pm.