Cel­e­bra­tions as the war ended - but tough times not over

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - By ROBIN BROOKS

THE war against Nazi Ger­many ended on Tues­day May 8, 1945 with a heady mix­ture of ela­tion and re­lief.

There was danc­ing and street par­ties, schools staged fancy dress cel­e­bra­tions and de­spite acute short­ages, com­mu­ni­ties man­aged to beg, bor­row, or steal enough food to feast.

But the joy was short lived. With Bri­tain bank­rupt, the end of the war pre­saged a long decade of aus­ter­ity.

Queu­ing re­mained a fact of life. Ahead lay a lot more mend­ing and mak­ing do.

Ra­tioning con­tin­ued. First in­tro­duced in Jan­uary 1940, food ra­tioning didn’t end com­pletely un­til nine years after Vic­tory in Europe (VE Day).

In con­trast Bri­tish Restau­rants, set up to of­fer whole­some meals at low cost, dis­ap­peared in 1946.

There was one in South­gate Street, Glouces­ter and an­other in Bed­ford Street, Stroud, where main meals were priced at 3d (just over 1p).

The food ra­tion per week for an adult was four ounces (100g) of ba­con, or ham, two ounces (50g) of but­ter, two

ounces of cheese, four ounces each of mar­garine and lard, three pints of milk, half a pound (225g) of sugar, two ounces of tea and one egg.

In ad­di­tion there was a monthly points sys­tem that al­lowed the pur­chase of such lux­u­ries as a tin of fish, two pounds (900g) of dried fruit or eight pounds (3.6kg) of split peas.

Frugal though this may sound to present day ears, the diet re­sulted in a marked im­prove­ment in the na­tion’s health.

For many in the poorer sec­tions of the com­mu­nity ra­tioning en­sured more pro­tein and vi­ta­mins.

Free school milk was in­tro­duced for chil­dren, fol­lowed later by or­ange juice, cod liver oil and vi­ta­mins pills.

Fac­tory work­ers were given free ac­cess to med­i­cal and wel­fare ser­vices to as­sist war pro­duc­tion.

In­fant mor­tal­ity de­clined dur­ing the war years, while the average age of death from nat­u­ral causes be­came higher.

Wartime chil­dren grew up hav­ing never seen a ba­nana.

But pota­toes and veg­eta­bles were not on ra­tion, so peo­ple ate their five a day, con­sumed lit­tle red meat and hardly any sat­u­rated fats.

In fact it was a diet closely re­sem­bling the ideal to­day’s nutri­tion­ists tell us we should as­pire to.

The Cit­i­zen and Echo in Fe­bru­ary 1941 car­ried the shock an­nounce­ment that the price of milk was be­ing in­creased to 7d (3p) a quart (two pints). So as well as be­ing on ra­tion, fresh milk was a lux­ury.

Pow­dered milk and eggs ap­peared in wartime shops, but were not as good as the real thing.

Ex­pec­tant moth­ers could ob­tain free sup­plies of fresh milk, but to do so had to ap­ply to the Glouces­ter­shire Food Con­troller’s Of­fice.

A staff mem­ber of this of­fice kept a log of the let­ters re­ceived, amus­ing ex­tracts from which were pub­lished in the Cit­i­zen and Echo after the war.

Among the gems were “This is my eighth child. What are you go­ing to do about it?”

“I re­quire ex­tra milk as I am stag­nant.”

“Please send me a form for cheap milk as I am ex­pect­ing mother”.

“I have posted the form by mis­take be­fore my child was filled in.”

“Please send me a form for a sup­ply of milk for hav­ing chil­dren at re­duced prices.”

“Sorry to be so long fill­ing in the form but I have been in bed with my baby for two weeks and did not know it was run­ning out un­til the milk­man told me”.

Not only food was ra­tioned. Get­ting clean re­quired coupons too. One coupon would al­low you to buy a four ounce bar of house­hold soap, a three ounce bar of toi­let soap, or a box of soap flakes.

There was also clothes ra­tioning, based on a points sys­tem. Ev­ery­one had a ba­sic al­lowance of 66 cloth­ing coupons which had to be handed over, along with the price of the item, at the shop where the pur­chase was made.

A dress or a pair of trousers re­quired 11 coupons. A jacket was 132 coupons and two hand­ker­chiefs one coupon.

The con­straints im­posed by ra­tioning en­cour­aged peo­ple not only to mend and make do, but also to grow their own veg­eta­bles, keep chick­ens and re­cy­cle as much as pos­si­ble.

Pig clubs were formed. A group of neigh­bours would buy a young pig or two and fat­ten them up on scraps of veg­etable peel­ings and food left­overs.

Some lo­cal com­pa­nies in­tro­duced pig clubs too. Gloster Air­craft Com­pany ran one and fed its pork­ers on scraps from the works’ can­teen.

Wartime soap ra­tions

A wartime recipe

A VE Day party in Water­loo Street

How the Cit­i­zen broke the news that the war in Europe was over

Joy­ous scenes in Rus­sell Street, Stroud

Dried eggs and milk

A cloth­ing coupon

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