The Army Catering Corps
The Army Catering Corps did not exist as a separate Corps in the Army until 1 January 1965 when it was granted the status of an independent Corps in its own right, under the direction of the Quartermaster General. Until then the Catering Corps had been under the control of the Royal Army Service Corps since its formation on 22 March 1941 under Army Order 35 of 1941. Prior to that, Regiments had their own cooks, some of whom were trained in one of the two cookery schools which existed in Aldershot and Poona in India. Trade pay was introduced in 1936, but equipment was poor and in many units meals were collected in bulk from the kitchen for consumption in barrack rooms. In the late 1930s the War Office became aware of the difference in standards of catering in the other two Services and the Army Board was tasked with addressing the problem.
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In late 1936, with tensions rising in Europe, it was felt necessary to increase the size of the forces and Leslie Hoare-Belisha was appointed Secretary of State for War. One of his first things he did was to appoint Major General Beck to investigate the question of cooking and food service and to examine the existing methods of providing, training and a career structure for cooks. His report was not accepted, on financial grounds, and the Secretary of State appointed Sir Isidore Salmon as Honorary Catering Adviser for the Army, with the remit of looking into Army messing standards. By June 1938 he had produced a very detailed report giving all of the measures needed to make improvements. Mr RAA Byford was then appointed as Chief Inspector of Army Catering in the rank of colonel and there quickly followed the appointment of civilian catering advisers in each of the Home Commands and the building of a new school of catering in St Omer Barracks, Aldershot.
It was not until 27 July 1940 however, that the Quartermaster General once more raised the question of forming an Army Catering Corps. This was not unanimously supported and the then Permanent Under Secretary of State said that he felt that catering was a civilian function and those employed in it should not be of military rank. Nevertheless the Army Catering Corps was formed on 22 March 1941. During the Second World War the Corps became highly successful in maintaining morale and many civilian catering experts were called up to manage army catering and the training of cooks. On 29 May 1943, under Army Order 819 of 1943, the Corps became an all tradesman Corps. On 5 October 1945 the Army Council took the decision to retain the ACC as an integral part of the post war Army. The Corps then went from strength to strength. The first junior entrants were formed up on 19 February 1947 and were the fore-runners of the immensely popular and successful apprenticeship scheme, which became the back-bone of the now increasingly professional Army Catering Corps.