This UK 24-hour General Pack ORP (Operational Ration Pack ) was packed in June 2006, quite possibly for issue to troops deploying to Afghanistan, writes Bob Morrison.
My and Mike Gormley’s former barber Alan Rowe MBE, founder of The Baton charity and now retired with his daughter Jenny running the business, loaned us this ration pack blast from the past after I spotted him posting about it on social media. As it plugs a gap between my ORP 2001 and ORP 2012 articles, I sought Alan’s permission to open it and photograph the contents, but he asked me not to open the individual items as he wished to reseal the carton and keep it as a memento of that period 15 years ago when the concept of the military charity was born.
As is to be expected, there are plenty of similarities between this 2006 pack and those from 2001 and 2012, as if it ain’t broke there’s no need to fix it. However, two things which caught my eye with this one are:  the ‘austerity’ look of the carton, which does not have the Menu List found on the base of the 2001 carton or all the additional printing found on the 2012 example and  the dessert pouch and two spread tubes produced in New Zealand. At the start of 2006 it was announced that the UK, already operationally committed in Iraq, was also further increasing its troop presence in Afghanistan to provide a multinational Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand Province, and I reckon this ORP might possibly have been part of a production surge to cater for this.
This pack, which I suspect may be Menu 3 because of the purple sticker on the side, contains three retort pouches, two Main meals and one Dessert, each contained in a cellophane outer bag. On the pouches the Mains are marked as Sausage & Beans and Steak & Vegetables, but the printing on the outer bags describes them as MoD Chicken Sausages and Beans in Tomato Sauce and MoD Steak and Vegetables. Ingredients are also printed on the bags but there is no weight given nor nutritional information. The Dessert is marked as Custard Sponge Pudding on both the retort pouch and the printed label panel on the bag, with ingredients also being printed on the label panel under which is stated ‘PRODUCT OF NEW ZEALAND’. Net weight appears to be 300g for Mains and 200g for Dessert.
The secondary items are: 75g ring-pull can of Chicken and Herb Pate; 35g sachet of Chunky Lentil & Vegetable Soup; 98g Biscuits Fruit – S, in foil; 91g Biscuits Brown – S, in foil; 28g Oatmeal Block – S, in foil; 60g (gross) Boiled Sweets in foil pouch; 2x 60g Nestlé YORKIE Chunky Milk Chocolate; 60g Hot Chocolate Flavoured Drink; 65g Lucozade Sport Carbohydrate Electrolyte Drink Mix, Lemon Flavour; 26g Fruit Spread Strawberry; 15g Vegemite; 1/8oz Tabasco Pepper Sauce Bottle; and 10x 4-ply Tissues. There is also a sealed bag ‘brew pack’ which contains: 2x Instant Coffee; 4x Instant Black Tea, Freeze-Dried Granules; 4x 6g Beverage Whitener; 4x 10g Sugar; 15g Mixed Berry Fruit Grains; 14g Chewing Gum with Sweetener; 10x Windproof Matches with Striker; and 6x Aquatabs.
Although all food components are several years past their use-by date, even if Alan had told me I could open them I wouldn’t have had the nerve to taste test them. For the record, the packaging of one YORKIE Bar had split and the powder which escaped certainly did not look at all appetising, and the Lucozade powder was rock hard. However the retort pouches inside their cellophane outers appeared and felt okay and the canned pâté looked like it had just come off the production line, so these might just have been edible in an emergency.
[images © Bob Morrison]