To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”


Compiled using lists from Kew Files and Commonwealth War Graves



Rangoon Central Jail


PoW Food


These pages are compiled from KEW File  AIR 40/1855


(E) Food

The overall picture is that food was deliberately limited in quality and quantity by the Japanese and that in fact there was no real shortage of supplies, although one PoW stated that the Japanese rations were little better than those of the PoWs. Often the quality of meals improved suddenly and as suddenly deteriorated. At times they were supplemented by purchases which the PoWs could make through official channels in the bazaar, It appears that food improved during the latter period of imprisonment,   i.e., in the last, six months. This was especially so in the case of beef and pork.

One estimate of rations in the early days is as follows:-

12 Cucumbers: 12 Egg Fruits: 12 Marrows: for 300 men for three days.

There was also an issue of rice that was more often than not floor sweepings.

A later estimate of the scale of rations is:-


Working Men

Men on Light Duties & Sick


750 grammes per day

550 grammes per day

Meat (rare):-

3.5 ozs. per day

1.75 ozs. per day


60 pounds for 300 men for 6 days



60 pounds for 300 men for 6 days



700 pounds for 600 men for 2 days



220 pounds for 600 men for 6 days


Dried Beans:-

220 pounds for 600 men for 6 days



6 pounds per man for 6 days


Dried Fish

50 pounds for 300 men for 6 days


Peanut Oil

6 pints for 300 men for 6 days



Twice a month

Generally for the sick

Rice Bran

Issued in fairly large quantities


 (Vegetables were Pumpkins and Marrows.  No fruit or milk was issued.)


A typical menu for 1944 is described as follows.


      Always rice and "Nuka" which looks like rice and is made of the husks of rice.


      Rice and bean shoots. Always a very small quantity of vegetables.



      Small quantity of meat every five days.

      Once a week a meal of powdered beans.

      Occasional dish of sweet rice.



      Once in three weeks Japanese Fried Fish.

      Once a week - meat - grain - beans - sweet potatoes - egg plant - pumpkin - marrow .



      None of the above was provided in very large quantity.

      Total amount of rice - 1 1b. per man per day.

      Tea supplied was Burmese tea which the PoWs describe as tasteless.

      An R.A.F. officer and N.C.O. drew particular attention to the activities of an Army corporal who was detailed to work in the ration store. The N.C.O. was cook at one of the blocks and after January 1945 contacted the Corporal whilst working in a small garden near the stores. Verbal requests were made for onions, sugar, eggs and soap for sick in the block and the Corporal was able to obtain them and hand them through the window. On three, occasions the Corporal was caught by the Japanese and severely beaten up, the last occasion being when the Japanese discovered that some soap was missing due mainly to pilfering on the part of the Japanese themselves. The R.A.F. Officer and N.C.O. stated that the Corporal’s activities undoubtedly saved the lives of many sick who were suffering from malnutrition.


(iii) Conclusion:-

The food in general was meagre. For some reason which is not immediately clear, it appears to have improved over a period and on days of celebration, e.g. Xmas when a special effort was undoubtedly made by the prison authorities and by prisoners to provide fairly good meals.







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