Wednesday 9 February 2022

World War 2 Eighty Years On - February 1942 - New Ration Books

9th February

Ration Book
courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

The issue of new ration books this month required a trip from the village to the Food Office at 39 Eton High Street. Ration books were issued in alphabetical order for collection on specified days as advertised on posters and in newspapers by the Ministry of Food. Generally, the system worked if people could get to the Food Office at the specified times, but this was not always convenient for the housewife engaged in war work in a factory, public service or managing her family with additional billeted evacuees as was shown by the later reminders to people to collect their new books. Shipping losses and military requirements put the supply of many goods in very short supply. A monthly ration of soap for each person was a 4oz block of household and 2oz tablet of toilet soap. Washday was difficult as the soap often failed to produce a lather in the local hard water and housewives were advised to add a little soda to the water.   Soap flakes and powders of the time such as Persil, Rinso and Oxydol were also rationed, and some laundry companies now refused to accept new customers.  A standard tablet of Lifebuoy soap was 2d. per tablet whilst scented toilet soap cost 4d. Including tax and 1 coupon.

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

For an insight to how corner shops managed wartime rationing The View from the Corner Shop, a diary of a Yorkshire shop assistant in wartime is a very good place to start. It is based on the Mass Observation Diary written by Kathleen Hey edited by Patricia & Robert Malcolmson. The book covers the period between July 1941 and July 1946.

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