What Happened to all the food parcels that Didn't Get Delivered?

In WWII there were many parcels delivered to front-line troops, who may of been on the move constantly. If their parcel wasn’t received in time (and it went rotten) how did the mail decide to junk the parcel? Has the process improved today?

Which food parcels are you referring to? The Red Cross sent food parcels to POWs in the European theater. Here’s an article about the Canadian food parcels supplied to British POWs:


This is a fairly non-perishable assortment of stuff, and the POWs were not moving around as much as troops in the action.

The Red Cross sent food parcels to schools and children in Britain. I found one reference to these including fresh apples from Canada, so they were more perishable. But, I doubt if they were directed to specific children, and I hope that someone got use out of just about all of the food that was sent.

Then, there were food parcels sent by families to their soldier friends and relatives. These would be the least uniformly prepared, the most potentially perishable, etc. Here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/83/a3290483.shtml

is an account of what happened to some undeliverable supplies.

Did you have a category in mind?

Yes it’s the families and friends part I’m interested in, I’ve a nephew who is entering the army very soon. Thanks for the links.

My great-grandfather was a heavy gunner in WWI, and served first in Africa, then in France/Belgium. He always seemed to be on the move, according to his diaries.

While he was in Africa, his mother sent him a Christmas cake. By the time it arrived at his post, he had moved on. And again, and again. Through Africa and then through France and Belgium, this cake followed him, each time arriving at an address after he’d been moved on from there.

It finally caught up with him after the war, shortly after he came home. By then it was something like three years old. According to his daughter (my grandmother), he said it was the best cake he’d ever eaten - not surprisingly, since apparently Christmas cakes soaked in rum do improve with age.

She also said that it was completely intact in its package.