Bitterly cold weather during the last days of December continued into the New Year. It was the coldest winter since 1894/95, with a recorded eleven degrees of frost in the Windsor area and snow, freezing rain and ice brought transport to a standstill. The intense cold and freezing conditions brought suffering to the wild life with swans becoming trapped in the ice as the River Thames froze over in many places. Reports of the frozen river brought day trippers from London in their hundreds for the pleasure of skating on the broad expanse of ice. These icy conditions were a joy to the skaters, but for many in Eton Wick it was distress and hardship. Householders had problems with frozen water pipes whilst farmers encountered difficulties tending their livestock. There was clamp down on the reporting of these bleak conditions for fear it may be of use to the German military. January had mainly mild weather but a snowstorm during the last week once more brought havoc.
By Royal Proclamation men aged twenty to twenty seven years were required to register for military service, those of 26 years registering on April 27th. This rapid expansion of the Armed Forces demanded even more output of munitions and equipment from the factories. To meet the ever increasing production requirement local engineering companies had to expand. Advertisements were placed in the local papers over a wide area for workers in non-essential jobs to go into the factories with the offer of training and good rates of pay. Many of those working in shops and offices were attracted by the prospect of higher earnings. To replace the lost staff, shop keepers and other service industry employers also advertised in the Windsor Express and Slough Observer for school leavers and for women who were willing to work part-time.
Monday January 8th.
|Ration Book courtesy of the Imperial war Museum.|
The early introduction of food rationing to avoid the chaotic food distribution that occurred in the 1914 -18 war allowed a ration of 4oz of bacon or ham, 4oz of butter and 12oz of sugar for each person per week. Ration books, which had been distributed in November of 1939, were brought into use with maximum food prices being set by the Ministry of Food. Grocers were required to furnish weekly returns of sales and stock of rationed foods. The system ensured a regular supply of rationed goods. Other supplies to the grocer also depended upon his number of registered customers to ensure a fair distribution. Some commodities came pre-packed in set amounts, such as sugar distributed in 1 and 2 lb. bags. Mr Chantler recalled the need to open a pre-packed bag for a single 12ozs ration was inconvenient and was not readily acceptable by some customers whom often tried to purchase the 2lb bag. At first coupons were cut out from the ration book but later the appropriate sections were just marked off on the book with indelible pencil or similar.
This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham.