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The War Years Remembered 50 Years on. Part 3

by cornwallcsv

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Archive List > Rationing

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Jean Winnan, William Bolitho
Location of story: 
Penryn, Cornwall
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 July 2005

This story has been put on the website by BBC Radio Cornwall Action volunteer, Olivia Davey, on behalf of the author Jean Winnan who understands the site’s rules and regulations.

At school we had a special underground shelter. It was situated in ‘Chapel Lane’ Penryn. Our school then backed onto ‘Chapel Lane’ and it was here we had our allotments but these were sadly forfeited for deep trenches to be dug and shored up. It was into these we all ran when the siren went during shool hours. We had to line up against the walls and keep very quiet until the all clear sounded and we resumed lessons again.
Food was rationed but we didn’t starve. Mr Pollard the butcher on the Terrace Penryn, opened on Tuesday’s for fresh meat, Thursdays for corned beef and Fridays and Saturdays for weekends. We were allowed for our family of five ten ounces of steak or similar on Tuesdays ten ounces corned beef on Thursdays and about twice that quantity in chops or whatever at weekends. We also had each week per person two ounces butter, four ounces margarine, two ounces lard, two ounces tea, four ounces sugar two ounces bacon. Fresh eggs became a thing of the past. They were substituted for a dried egg powder which came in dark red tins. Tins no longer had paper labels on them as paper was needed for the war effort. Soap was rationed if you could get it as was soap powder, matches, combs. Brushes-from toothbrushes to brooms, shoe laces, pails, bowls etc. were all considered luxuries. If news got around that a certain shop had any of these commodities one would rush to join the queue and wait up to hours for maybe a box of matches or a comb. Bread too was rationed. Each member of the family had a ration book and for bread one had BU’s. Bread units, if you used too many one week, next week you would have to go short, but other coupons were dated and could only be used at the dated time, perhaps a good thing!
Clothing too was rationed. Garments were bought by coupons, a top coat being a real luxury which swallowed up something like a years supply. However shortages of food and clothing, and the day to day necessities of life seemed not to daunt or dismay, but instead brought out the best in us humble human beings, no-one would see a friend in need, everybody was happy to share what little they had. There was a great feeling of camaraderie amongst people. “We are all in this together” kind of feeling.

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