Primary Homework Help

Britain Since the 1930s

by Mandy Barrow
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Introduction to Rationing in Britain during World War 2

During World War II all sorts of essential and non-essential foods were rationed, as well as clothing, furniture and petrol.

Why was rationing introduced?

To make the British weak, the Germans tried to cut off supplies of food and other goods. German submarines attacked many of the ships that brought food to Britain.

Rationing was introduced to make sure that everyone had a fair share of the items that were hard to get hold of during the war.

When was rationing introduced?

Rationing was introduced at the beginning of 1940.

On National Registration Day on 29 September 1939, every householder had to fill in a form giving details of the people who lived in their house.

How did rationing work?

Using the information gathered on Natoinal Registration Day, the government issued every on with an identity card and ration book. The books contained coupons that had to be handed to or signed by the shopkeeper every time rationed goods were bought. This meant that people could only buy the amount they were allowed.

Ration books

What were ration books?

They were books which contained coupons that shopkeepers cut out or signd when people bought food and other items.

People still had to pay for the goods with money.

Why did they issue ration books?

To make sure that everybody got a fair share. The government was worried that as food and other items became scarcer, prices would rise and poorer people might not be able to afford things. There was also a danger that some people might hoard items, leaving none for others.

Was rationing fair?

Some people considered food rationing to be very unfair. Eggs, butter and meat could be obtained fairly easily without coupons in rural areas.

By the summer of 1941 greengrocers in the towns were taking their lorries into the country to buy vegetables direct from growers.

When did food rationing stop?

Fourteen years of food rationing in Britain ended at midnight on 4 July 1954, when restrictions on the sale and purchase of meat and bacon were lifted. Thi happened nine years after the end of the war.

Rationing experience from one of the vsitors to our website

"I lived in Godalminng & London during WW2. I was 12 at the start, 18 at its end (an apprentice in an aircaft factory).

Eating out
One point that your pages on rationong did not bring out was, that in most families at least one person was working & consequently releaved the ration situation at home by eating out. I for example had a lunch in the works canteen and a sandwich with tea at the two other breaks during the day.

Even classified as a "Boy" I was working 54 hours a week and did evening classes on three nights (having supper at the 'tech canteen).

Another member of my family was a shop assistant during this period. Because of the shortage of staff, her lunch break was too short to go home so she eat at a restaurant (Often Lyons, where Welsh Rabbit (cheese on toast) cost 4d or a hot meat pie 7d).

Many schools also had school dinners.

All in all, many families really had double the official ration because they ate at their place of work."
Don Joseph

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Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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