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WW2 Rationing

Posted By: bert1

WW2 Rationing - 11th Jun 2009 8:23am

I know this subject has been touched on in other threads but i just thought this subject deserved its place so members could record their own thoughts and experiences, also when we all use that phrase " I'm starving " think again.

Rationing was introduced in Britain at the beginning of 1940. Before the start of WW2 Great Britain imported 55 million tons of food, within a month that figure had fallen to 12 million tons of food.
On 29th September 1939 National Registration Day was declared and every household in Britain had to fill in a form giving details of all the people that lived in their house. Rationing was introduced to make sure everyone had a fair share of all imported goods and anything else that was in short supply and difficult to obtain. Rationing was not just restricted to food, there was also clothes, petrol, coal, gas and electricity. The coal shortage was due to so many miners leaving the pits and joining up and a lesser workforce had a snow balling effect. The government encouraged the population to grow their own, by using allotments and turning their gardens into vegetable plots. They were also encouraged to keep livestock, such as chickens, rabbits, pigs and goats, to be reared in gardens and open spaces such as parks.
It should not be forgotten the gratitude owed to the seaman of both services for the brave and dedicated role they played in keeping this country going in the darkest of times.
Below a time line of rationing between 1939-54.


1939 - Petrol rationing (ended May 1950 )

8 January 1940 - Rationing of bacon, butter and sugar

11 March 1940 - All meat was rationed

July 1940 - Tea and margarine were added to the list of rationed foods.

March 1941 - Jam was put on ration.

May 1941 - Cheese was rationed

1 June 1941 - Rationing of clothing (ended 15 March 1949)

June 1941 - Eggs were put on ration

July 1941 - Coal was rationed because more and more miners were called up to serve in the forces.

January 1942 - Rice and dried fruit were added to the list of rationed foods.

February 1942 - Soap was rationed so that oils and fats could be saved for food.

Tinned tomatoes and peas were were added to the list of rationed food.

By 17 March 1942, coal, gas and electricity were all rationed

26 July 1942 - Rationing of sweets and chocolate. Each person was allowed about 2oz (55 grams) a week

August 1942 - Biscuits rationed

1943 - Sausages are rationed

1945 World War Two Ends
Rationing continued on many items until 1954.

1948 - The end of rationing begins. It is another 5 years before rationing of all products is stopped.

25 July 1948 - end of flour rationing

15 March 1949 - end of clothes rationing

19 May 1950 - rationing ended for canned and dried fruit, chocolate biscuits, treacle, syrup, jellies and mincemeat.

September 1950 - rationing ended for soap

3 October 1952 - Tea rationing ended

1953 - Sweet and sugar rationing ends

4 July 1954 - Food rationing ends

Posted By: bert1

Re: WW2 Rationing - 11th Jun 2009 8:32am

Here is what was a typical weeks ration for an adult.

Attached picture food.jpg
Posted By: chriskay

Re: WW2 Rationing - 11th Jun 2009 10:46am

Thanks for this, Bert. It's surprising how long after the end of the war some rationing continued; it's a reminder of how much the war, even though we won, affected us.
Here's some scans of ration books. the first is inside pages from a 1945-46 book. The second is interesting; it shows the 1953-54 book of Hugh Swinstead as an adult & one from 1918 when he was a child. Rationing during the first World War was not introduced until Feb 1918 & books not issued until July of that year. The last scan is of a petrol rationing book from 1957, just after the end of the Suez crisis. Only one coupon has been used.

Attached picture 2009-06-11 10-52-01_0027.jpg
Attached picture 2009-06-11 11-03-06_0028.jpg
Attached picture 2009-06-11 11-10-24_0029.jpg
Posted By: hoseman

Re: WW2 Rationing - 11th Jun 2009 7:28pm

The hardship is still going on....SHE rations my beer!!!! raftl
Posted By: RUDEBOX

Re: WW2 Rationing - 11th Jun 2009 7:40pm

What were typical ration sizes per person? In wežght.
Posted By: chriskay

Re: WW2 Rationing - 11th Jun 2009 9:34pm

The amounts of different products varied according to supply. A typical ration per adult per week was:

Butter or lard 2 ounces
Bacon & ham 4 ounces
Margarine 4 ounces
Sugar 8 ounces
Meat to the value of 1 shilling & 2 pence (about 6p)
Milk 3 pints (1.7 litres)
Cheese 2 ounces
Eggs 1 or 2 a week
Tea 2 ounces
Sweets 3 ounces
Jam 1 pound every 2 months
Dried eggs 1 packet every 4 weeks

1 ounce = 28 grams
As far as I remember, bread was not rationed until after the end of the war.

These were the amounts to which you were entitled, but there was no guarantee they would be available. I remember often being sent to the shops & standing in a queue at the grocers or the butchers, not knowing what would be available.
Posted By: barry60

Re: WW2 Rationing - 24th Apr 2011 12:39pm

what was a unit of petrol entitling you to?
Posted By: chriskay

Re: WW2 Rationing - 24th Apr 2011 3:35pm

Originally Posted by barry60
what was a unit of petrol entitling you to?


It would be a variable amount, according to availability, which is why the coupons are in units rather than gallons.
Welcome BTW.
Posted By: Historybook

Re: WW2 Rationing - 24th Apr 2011 7:34pm

A few bit's of war time paper work survive from my grandfathers firm.

He wanted the rolls on one of his steam rollers repaired and was told he would have to wait for an allocation of steel which he was told may take up to four months.
There is also a letter sent by a company in Birkenhead in which they say when he writes back to please include some paper for their reply as they have none of their own left !!.

There is also a few letters about fuel supplies for his vehicles when he undertook work for other people.
The fuel problem vanished so i was told when he started to do haulage work for the Ministry of Supply, they supplied any amount of fuel !.


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