Topic: AIF - Lighthorse
Australian Light Horse
Roles within the Regiment
The following entries dealing with the roles and duties within the hierarchy of a light horse regiment are extracted from a very informative handbook called The Bushman’s Military Guide, 1898. While written in 1898, the information contained in the entries held true for the next twenty years with only minor modifications with the principles remaining as current then as now.
The Aldershot Oven
(19.) The Aldershot oven consists of:
2 half circles or arches.
Weight about 3¼ cwt.
The oven will bake 108 1¼ lb. loaves of bread in each batch. To erect the oven, select a gentle slope on clay soil if possible, as it will bake hard and firm, avoiding wet ground, clear and smooth the side, and erect the oven with the front to the prevailing wind, sods being cut to build the front, back and sides of the oven.
A shallow trench, 12 inches wide and 3 deep, should be dug inches from the point selected as the front, down the middle of the length of each oven, when the bottom is used, this will greatly assist in laying the fire.
(20.) The bars are then placed through the ribs of the two arches and the latter placed over the trench already cut, the back one overlapping the front, the back of the oven placed in position, the plate forming the bottom of the oven is then placed against the front portion and firmly fixed, the sods are then built round the front, back, and sides. A trench is next cut for the cook to work in, which is 18 inches deep, 2 feet wide, and 6 feet long, leaving a space of 12 inches between it and the oven. The clay or soil from the trench being mixed with water and grass, rushes, etc, to assist in binding it, is then thrown on the oven and well beaten down. The depth of clay or earth should at least be 6 inches, the roof slightly sloping backwards to carry off the rain. 300 lb. of hard wood are required to heat each oven when first pitched, the wood being cut as previously mentioned and placed in the oven in small quantities, to ensure its being reduced to ashes. Each subsequent heating requires about 75 lb. If, however, the oven be filled with meat, potatoes, etc., about 150 lb. is required.
(21.) Dough should not be put into the oven for about twenty minutes after the fire has been drawn, owing to the top heat being so fierce that it would inevitably burn the upper part of the bread. When meat is to be cooked the dishes may be placed in immediately the fire is drawn. A barrow containing wet clay being ready previous to doing so, the moment the dishes are in, the door should be put up and wedged tightly with a piece of wood, the end resting on the outer edge of the trench in front, and then pegged round to prevent any steam escaping; if this be properly performed, the dinners will not be burnt, the steam keeping the surface of the heat and potatoes moist, and giving the former the appearance of having been well basted. The time required depends entirely on the heat of the oven, and the amount of food placed in an oven with a good heat containing 220 men's rations will require about 2½ hours.
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Citation: Australian Light Horse, Roles within the Regiment, Aldershot Oven