Hungry Soldiers — “团长, 我们饿死了” (Photos are of new recruits, not POWs)

Page 3

But is was not JUST corruption and malplannng that gave so many units the appearance of prisoners-of-war, marching ghosts.

The harsh fact remains that the peacetime standard of living of the (esp.) poorer Northern and (S. China) mountain provinces, from which the majority of voluntary conscripts came, had evolved a permanent level of (staples) diet for the sub-kulak classes that was already below subsistence levels – meaning that the ability of adult males to perform arduous farm work without the support of wives and children was simply not there. And (whereas) carrying a 10 lb rifle and backpack or even belt-pack while running through the field of combat with no mealtime break was obviously a lot more demanding that sowing or even reaping.

The mal/nutrition of the recruits can be gauged by comparison even of official (standard) cereals rations with the minimum nutritional needs understood in the current PRC.
According to standard medical statistics (for the PRC),

Table 1: Current PRC Nutrition Standard (Nationwide, civilians)


Adapting these values to kg, one gets:
male adult 2.2 kg
female adult 1.85 kg
minimum 1.1-1.7 kg

We know that the Hunan supply bureau collected (or was meant to) 3 million hectoliters (1 HL= 100 liters: 300 mill liters)/year, but no statistics are given as to how large a field force was included in the 9th Military District (S. Hunan). Let us guess that it was 200,000 in paper strength, though that number would have risen during/after the Ichigo campaign of 1944 when Hengyang (S. Hunan) became a major and prolonged target, whose defense ultimately failed. Using the values

1 cup = .237 liters: white rice 1 cup = 219 cal
1 hectoliter (HL) = 市石 = 21,900 cal
3 mill HL 65,700,000,000 cal/yr
182,500,000 cal day
912.5 cal/soldier/day at 200,000
200,000 soldiers under rations (9th army district)

We come out with the predictably starvation level diet of 900 cal/day for the paper soldier: less still as or if forces are concentrated around Hengyang.

How this compares with the “national” armies’ in toto is the obvious next question: surprisingly similar.

According to Mao 毛泽东中共七大上的政治报告 Aug ? 1945, 70,000,000 to 100,000,000 hectoliters of (dry) staples (rice, millet, sorghum, wheat) were taxed in kind from the county level supply bureaux, presumptively enough but for the garnishing by corrupt officers and merchant-speculators who had access (as contract “teamsters” as it moved en route from field to quartermaster.

But what degree of nutrition is (by then) “enough”? If we accept the official (Vladimirov/Comintern) all-China army size as 3.5 million; then 912 cal/s/year /.7 = 1300 cal/soldier /day but if we use the consensus figure of 5 million (?? including the Red guerrilla base areas), then the average drops to 912… be related to the 2,200 cal/s/day guideline in use today for civilians (obviously more for heavily burdened and racecourse fast guerrilla fighters…). Which leaves 400 cal/d/s as probably skim, or under-the-table (black market) sale.

Non-cereals: a black box

Obviously, if this were the only available food, and the average values were indeed average, diet deficiency and related disease would have wiped out the entire 9th Region Army several times over: it probably came near to doing so but of course the (released) planning documents provide no data at all about non-battle deaths or losses in available troops. But what is more interesting statistically is whether such a meager diet level was indeed better/more than the bottom-class peasant small-plot or hired-labor recruit would have had to make do with had he stayed home.

rice 330 cal!

Imperial Japanese rations were the field rations issued by Imperial Japan in World War II, and which reflected the culture of the Japanese military. Rations had to be stout, durable, simple, sturdy and had to survive without refrigeration for long periods of time. Typically each ration was served in the field in tin boxes, and cooked near the battlefield.
The rations issued by the Imperial Japanese Government, usually consisted of rice with barley, meat or fish, vegetables, pickled vegetables, umeboshi, shoyu sauce, miso or bean paste, and green tea. A typical field ration would have 1½ cups of rice, with barley. The reason why rice was issued with barley was to combat nutritional deficiencies such as beriberi.

Typically ¼ cup of canned tuna, or sausages, and/or squid would be cooked from either captured locations or hunting in the nearby area. Preserved foods from Japan typically were issued sparingly. Other foods issued: 1 ¼ cups of canned cabbage, coconut, sweet potato, burdock, lotus root, taro, bean sprouts, peaches, mandarin oranges, lychee or beans. 3 teaspoons of pickled radish (typically daikon), pickled cucumber, umeboshi, scallions and ginger added flavor to the rations. Sometimes less than an ounce of dried seaweed, was issued for making sushi in the field, or beer and/or sake was

But how to these current day standards compare to/with wartime guidelines?

According to (Hunan military) standard allocations 1937-45, each soldier was to receive
25市两 or about 780 grams of food (probably mainly rice)/day, which equates to 860 cal/day.
(chen, etc, Hunan supply). some 300 cal/day UNDER current minimum (PRC) dietary standards for even the lowest level of physical size and work.

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