- Contributed by
- Ada Edds
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- Ada Edds
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- 07 November 2004
My picture from my National Registration Identity Card that we all had to carry during WW2 and for some years after
I worked in the Ministry of Food which looked after the nation's rationing. Because most of our food was imported, and due to the problems for shipping, we had to be limited to only a certain amount of food per person. So we had to issue ration books and retailers only had their allowances, so you registered with each individual retailer and then each week you took your ration book in. You bought: cheese (about 4 oz); 2 eggs (extra for children); sugar (first thing that was rationed); bacon and meat. Later on bread and towards the end even clothes were rationed, and that went on even longer than food rationing.
At our office we issued the ration books. Each person in the family had a registration number and you had an identity card which carried that number. That always had to be produced when new ration books were issued. They would be sent out and originally they lasted for six months but towards the end of the war we extended them to a year because it meant such a lot of administrative work. You took your coupons to the place at which you were registered. Each coupon was marked with a week and they were cut out. You could collect up to a fortnight's ration but no more than one week in arrears. The coupon was cut out so that they'd know that you had had your ration. Inside the ration book you could see the retailer's stamp where the family could buy their food.
We missed butter I suppose as much as anything, because of making cakes. And then of course we missed eggs because you were only allowed 1 egg per person, 2 for children. So we had dried eggs imported from America. They came as part of what was called 'Lease-lend' which we paid for later when the war had finished.
Fruit was almost non-existent. That wasn't rationed. On very rare occasions you would see a queue outside the greengrocers and you'd tap the shoulder of the person in front and ask what they were queuing for, and they would say oranges or bananas. So you waited in the queue and they would just allow you 2 or 3, whatever they felt would go around people. Those were luxury items. You had to queue up for everything.
I was working in the city of Portsmouth during the first raid of the Blitz. Our food office was completely bombed out and the Guild Hall was bombed. We had to open a temporary office and of course all the people's property was bombed. I had a special green identity card so that if there were any blocked roads I could pass through. We had to go to the people instead of them coming to us. They had most likely lost their homes and their ration books. We issued them with temporary ration cards until such times as they had new addresses when we would re-register them and give them new ration books.
It was quite horrifying, the first raid, because it was mostly fire bombs called Molatov Bread Baskets. They came down in big showers and you couldn't hear them until they were almost to the ground. On impact, everything went up in flames. You could actually hear the big, heavy bombs whistling down. People would go into Anderson shelters mostly. As soon as the air raid warning went in the office we would have to leave everybody to make their way to public shelters on the streets.
The beaches around us were all cordoned off with great big coils of barbed wire. On D-Day the troops left from here, across the Solent. I heard them all leaving in the night, my daughter was just one week old. The soldiers were all parked in the streets around here in Fareham. In the middle of the night I heard them rumbling off down to the Solent across from Stokes Bay and Southampton. Within a few days, the invalids were being brought back home. We had many big military hospitals around here. The invalids wore special blue uniforms so that we knew that they had been to war and been wounded.
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