Did you know?
During World War II all sorts of essential and non-essential foods were rationed? It was the same for clothing, furniture and petrol. Everything after the War was limited, that’s when ration books were introduced. It all began at the beginning of the 1940s.
Why was Rationing Introduced?
To make the British weak, the Germans tried to cut off supplies of food and other goods. German submarines attacked many of the ships that brought food to Britain.
Before the war, Britain imported 55 million tons of food, a month after the war had started this figure had dropped to 12 million.
What were Ration Books?
They were books which contained coupons that shopkeepers cut out or signed when people bought food and other items. (People still paid for the goods with money.)
The Ration Book became the key to survival for nearly every household in Britain. Every member of the public was issued with a ration book.
The government wanted to ensure everybody had a fair share of the food available. It was a great concern that food and other items became scarcer, prices would rise, and people might not be able to afford things. The was also a danger that some people might hoard items, leaving none for others.
Rationing was introduced To make sure that everyone had a fair share of the items that were hard to get hold of during the war.
Ration books were produced in three primary colours. The colour of an individuals ration book was essential as it made sure you got the correct amount and types of food needed for family and health.
Buff-coloured ration books – Most adults had this colour
Green ration books – Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 5. They had the first choice of fruit, a daily pint of milk and a double supply of eggs.
Blue ration books – Children between 5 and 16 years of age. It was important that children had fruit, the full meat ration and half a pint of milk a day.
How did it all Work?
Using the information gathered on National Registration Day, the government issued everyone with an identity card and ration book.
Each family or individual had to register with a local supplier from whom the ration would be bought from. These details were details stamped in the book, and you could only buy your ration from that supplier.
The books contained coupons that had to be handed or signed by the shopkeeper every time rationed goods were bought. This meant that people could only buy the amount they were allowed.
Was it Fair?
This a big question in everybody’s minds. Some people considered food rationing to be very unfair. Eggs, butter and meat could be obtained relatively easily without coupons in rural areas. But the summer 1941 greengrocers in the towns were taking their lorries into the country to vegetables direct from growers.
When Did it all Stop?
Fourteen years of food rationing in Britain ended at midnight on 4th July 1954, when restrictions on the sale and purchase of meat and bacon were lifted. This happened nine years after the end of the war.