Shell damaged food container

18th Battalion

Providing food to men on the front line was one of the main logistical challenges of the First World War. Forward units would usually have cookhouses within walking distance of the front line trenches, which would prepare daily hot meals for the men. Carrying parties would then transport the food to the men during the cover of darkness, where it was a welcome addition to regular rations.

On 8 July 1918, the 18th Battalion had a cookhouse approximately one kilometre behind their positions at Villers-Bretonneux. They had been experiencing intermittent shelling from the Germans during the day, but by nightfall they were starting to prepare the hot meals to be taken to the front. Just after 10pm a German shell struck the cookhouse. It went through this insulated food container, but failed to explode. As the cookhouse was crowded with cooks and men ready to start carrying the food, the failure of the shell to explode saved numerous lives.