Soldiers also used the biscuits as paint canvases and even as photo frames. One such biscuit features the use of wool and bullets to create a picture frame. Another was used as a “Christmas card” and had a tropical scene painted on it.”
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Over at the excellent Australian War Memorial Blog this article gives a great insight into the Australian tradition of baking ANZAC biscuit’s and what the soldier’s actually were given.
“The biscuit that most of us know as the ANZAC biscuit is a sweet biscuit made from rolled oats and golden syrup. These must not be confused with that staple of soldiers’ and sailors’ rations for centuries, the hardtack biscuit.
To deal with these rather unpalatable objects first, hardtack biscuits are a nutritional substitute for bread, but unlike bread they do not go mouldy. And also unlike bread, they are very, very hard.
On Gallipoli, where the supply of fresh food and water was often difficult to maintain, hardtack biscuits became notorious. So closely have they been identified with the whole Gallipoli experience that they are sometimes known ANZAC tiles or ANZAC wafer biscuits. Hence the confusion with the sweet biscuit.
There is actually nothing wafer-like about hardtack biscuits. Soldiers often devised ingenious methods to make them easier to eat. A kind of porridge could be made by grating them and adding water. Or biscuits could be soaked in water and, with jam added, baked over a fire into “jam tarts”. Not at all like Mum used to make, but better than nothing.
Strange as it seems, the Australian War Memorial holds in its collection a range of hardtack biscuits from the First World War. So durable are they that soldiers used them not just for food, but for creative, non-culinary purposes. The texture and hardness of the biscuits enabled soldiers to write messages on them and send them long distances to family, friends, and loved ones.
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