During World War II, German troops called their field kitchens “Gulaschkanone” or goulash cannons.
A field kitchen is a truck or trailer equipped to prepare and serve food to soldiers while they are in the field. Using various types of fuel, from diesel to coal, to heat food, a field kitchen is able to serve many types of hot food to those who might not otherwise be able to get hot food. A throwback to the food wagon that provided cowboys with meals, a field kitchen offers comfort and camaraderie to soldiers who often spent a lot of time outdoors in the elements.
A country kitchen has its roots in the chuckwagons that used to feed cowboys.
Reported as one of the most frustrating and demoralizing aspects of spending time in the field for a soldier is the lack of fresh, hot food. The country kitchen was initially designed as a small horse-drawn wagon. Using wood, coal or coal oil as fuel, mobile kitchens served stews and soups to hungry soldiers. One of the cons of having a field kitchen nearby was the smoke that often filled the sky over the wagon. Enemy artillery would normally focus fire on the area near the smoke, inflicting injuries on those trying to eat some hot food.
Field kitchens are designed to provide hot meals to soldiers in the field.
World War II saw the evolution of the field kitchen moving from a small trailer to a truck-based design. As a self-contained unit, the field kitchen is a much more mobile unit, able to move around in the blink of an eye. The truck-style galley is capable of moving back and forth from the front lines to the rear to be resupplied, providing food, water and coffee to soldiers serving in forward areas. In some locations, kitchen trucks also carried new socks and, occasionally, gloves, boots, and other equipment. Ammunition was not carried in the trucks for fear of making them a high priority target for enemy snipers and artillery.
English troops during World War II used mobile kitchens to serve tea and boost morale. Many armies have nicknamed their respective field kitchens. German troops called the field kitchens that provided hot food “Gulaschkanone” or goulash cannons. This was due to the chimney’s resemblance to the gun when tilted downwards for travel. US troops often refer to their kitchens as soup cans or mess trucks.
The field kitchen used to travel with a mobile shower truck. This gave the soldier the opportunity to eat and bathe. Many of the kitchen trucks also provided mess kits and rations that the soldier could carry with him and eat in the field.