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15 October 2014
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How To Feed A Family On Rations

by A7431347

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Contributed by 
A7431347
People in story: 
Terry, Sylvie and Ethel Brown
Location of story: 
Wandsworth
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A6417164
Contributed on: 
26 October 2005

I was staying with me grandfather in 39 Standen Road, Southfields, Wandsworth. My father was in the navy. We were in the only house that still had gas. The rest had electric.

My Mum, Ethel Brown, used to go down with the ration books, the butcher used to mark it with a pencil. When they used to get out, she rubbed the mark out and go down the next butcher so she could feed her children. You had to didn’t you?

Things were really hard; people don’t know what they’ve got now. You grew what you could; lettuce, tomatoes. I never saw a banana until about 1946.

This story was submitted to the People’s War Site by Helena Noifeld of BBC Radio Kent and has been added to the website on behalf of Terry Brown with his permission and he fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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Message 1 - How To Feed A Family On Rations

Posted on: 26 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

I find this story perplexing. British rationing provided adequate nourishment; nobody starved.

Everyone received a ration book but they were obliged to register with a retailer. You could register with a different retailer for each foodstuff, but very few did. Because of this requirement to register, this scam wasn't possible. Moreover, prior to 1941 the food coupons were cut out of the ration book by the retailer. After 1941, the food coupons had to be stamped with indelible ink with a cancelling stamp supplied to the retailer by the Ministry of Food.

Meat was rationed from 11 March 1940 to the value of 1s 10p (about £3.50 in 2005 values) per person per week; although this fell to 1 shilling (£3.10) in 1941. It was done this way to provide a choice between buying a small amount of the dearer meats, such as steak, roast, or chops, or a larger amount of cheaper meat for stewing or braising. The family must have been quite well off to be able to regularly afford spending double the permitted amount just on meat.

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