Monday 7 June 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - June 1941 - Clothes Rationing Starts

Sunday June 1st. 1941

Rationing introduced for clothes and household linens with a yearly allowance of 66 coupons for each person. Garments carried different coupon values, such as, sixteen coupons for an adult raincoat, four coupons for a woman’s petticoat, seven for a dress and two for a pair of stockings. In subsequent years the coupon allowance was decreased by 1945 to 36 coupons. Following the defeat of Germany, the allowed allocation was increased to 48 but for a longer period than one year. 

The need to conserve clothing coupons prompted the Eton Wick and Boveney Womens Institute to hold a competition for a renovated hat. Miss Pettle, having judged the results, then gave a talk on how clothes could be altered to a new look or fashion for oneself or a member of the family. Two debates, relevant to the time, were held at this meeting, one was on the communal feeding arrangements and the other on the use of cosmetics; both were lively with Mrs Jacobs and Mrs McMillan speaking for communal feeding whilst Miss Badder and Mrs Borret spoke against - the voting was against by a large majority. The debate on the use of cosmetics was light-hearted with Mrs Ball and Mrs Friend speaking for and against but this vote was not clear as some members voted for, and yet never used cosmetics themselves.

(Eton Wick W.I.)

Rationing of materials for civilian use affected many traditional customs, such as the supply of cloth for school uniforms and to overcome the shortage of the distinctive Eton College attire, a clothing pool was formed by Eton Tailors to supply second-hand school uniform including top hats still worn by the college boys in 1941.

Sunday June 22nd

German forces invaded Russia which lessened the possibility of major air attacks on Britain. Losses in men and equipment in Crete and North Africa brought an urgent need for more combat troops and equipment. To release men from civilian occupations Government Ministries undertook a recruitment campaign to get more women into factories, the railways and other public services. Later conscription would be introduced for unmarried women.

The situation made an increasing demand for munitions from the factories. To meet the demand many people worked sixty or more hours a week. Those workers living in Eton Wick, who had volunteered for Civil Defence, found it inconvenient to travel to Slough for training where it was claimed there was better facilities and equipment. A request to Eton U.D.C. by the village defence volunteers and those at Eton asked if training could be arranged locally. 

This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham. 

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