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World War 2 The Home Front (Rationing) WW2

Updated on February 7, 2012

The Home Front

Britain at War

On September 1st 1939 Hitlers German army without warning invaded Poland sparking the start of World War 2, for 6 long years many battles were fought on air, land and sea all over the globe and millions of young fighting men died in the name of their respective countries.

Many millions of civillians were also caught up in the war suffering death disfiguration disease and many of them were left homeless, due to enemy bombing raids.

1939-1945 Was a time of loss, a time of grief, a time of despair but the people of Britain pulled together with their stiff upper lip to make it a time of hope in the face of adversity, a time where a whole country took pride in their fighting heroes, a difficult time where everyone pulled together to make it as bearable as it could be, mothers lost husbands and sons in the battlefields, some of the fighting soldiers lost their entire families in bombing raids but the sense of pride and belief felt by the entire nation gave Britain an advantage over the enemy.

As Britains young fighting men fought in the battlefields of WW2, the people of Britain worked together doing their bit for our boys, food and clothes were rationed, the children of London were sent into the countryside to get away from the bombings, men were brought out of retirement and joined the Home Guard our last line of defence against the Germans and Women ran the factories and carried out many other tasks usually done by the men.

World war 2 although one of the worst times in the history of the world brought out the best in the British people even when all looked lost at the battle of Dunkirk the resiliance and determination of the British people was never broken.

Ration Books and ID Cards

World War 2 Rationing on Amazon

Dried eggs

Make Do and Mend

A Ladies Stockings?


Because British cargo ships were under constant attack by German forces determined to starve Britain out of the war food rationing came into effect in 1940. Before the war, Britain imported 55 million tons of food a month, after the war had started this figure had reduced to 12 million tons.

September 29th 1939 became known as National Registration Day when every single household in britain had to submit a form detailing everyone who lived in their households, the information submitted was then used by the Government to issue everyone with an identity card and of course their Ration books.

Ration books were books which contained coupons that you handed to the shopkeeper when you purchased your goods, the shopkeeper then cut out the coupon and gave you your weekly ration of course you still had to pay for your purchases, the ration books were not used instead of money.

The Food rations for one adult per week are as follows.

Bacon and Ham 4oz.

Meat to the value of 1 shilling 2 pennies.

Butter 2ounces.

Cheese 2ounces

Margarine 4ounces

Cooking fat/lard 4ounces

Milk 3 pints

Sugar 8ounces

Tea 2ounces

Eggs 1 egg per week or

As well as weekly rations there were some food items that were only available to the population every 2 or 4 weeks.

Sweets(Candy)12ounces every 4 weeks

Dried milk 1 packet every 4 weeks

Dried eggs 1 packet monthly.

Preserves were only available to the population every 2 months and you would only be allowed to buy 1 pound.

Babies and younger children, the disabled, expectant and nursing mothers had concentrated orange juice and cod liver oil from Welfare Clinics together with priority milk.

To celebrate special occasions like Christmas or Birthdays some families saved some their food rations for a few weeks to enable them to make cakes or other luxury items for the special day.

Make do and Mend

On June 1st 1941, almost 18 months after food rationing began Clothes rationing came into effect because of a shortage of materials to make clothes during this time the population were urged by the Government to make do with what they have and mend clothes that could be salvaged. the Government by rationing materials meant that they had enough materials to allow the textile factories to produce uniforms and parachutes for the war effort.

Each person was given 60 coupons to last them a year which was said to be enough for a full set of clothes to last one year. this was later reduced to 48 coupons.

Children were allocated an extra 10 clothing coupons above the standard ration to allow for growing out of clothes during a year.

Women were encouraged to repair and recycle their family's old clothes, old curtains and bedding were cut up to make skirts and dresses. Unwanted woolens were unravelled and knitted into something else.

Beauty products and stockings were hard to come by. Some women would draw a line down the back of each leg and pretend they were wearing stockings. Others used gravy browning to dye their legs.

Grow For Victory

As well as rationing the population were urged to Grow their own vegetables if they had a garden and if they could to keep their own chickens for eggs.



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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This helped with my homework


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      this really helped me with my modern history assignment. thanks heaps :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      goood stuff

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is great !

    • profile image

      Bill Clapp 

      9 years ago

      My parents and grandparents used to tell us of what you could and couldn't have on rationing....when you think of what's avaliable to us nowadays! Rationing gave them (and us) an appreciation of what you have on you plate...and not to waste anything! We take too much for granted nowadays!

      As they say: Waste Not, Want Not!

    • Blogging Erika profile image

      E L Danvers 

      10 years ago from Ventura, CA

      Awesome article, thanks! I recently read MFK Fisher's "Wolf at the Door," which is a cookbook aimed at the era of rationing. Amazing stuff, and people were so resourceful!

    • jimmythejock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jimmy the jock 

      10 years ago from Scotland

      Thanks for your comments guys,(Staci)I too was of a later generation but i remember the stories from my parents and grand parents that were always told with great pride in their country.

      (Paraglider) although you were too young to remember full rationing didn't actually stop until 1956.

      (William)I honestly didn't think that you were old enough to remember the war years and I love the fact that you got to have a party when a new ship was launched.

      (2Pats) my parents were the same every morsel on the plate had to be eaten or it would be served right back to us at the next meal with a lecture of rationing during the war years.....jimmy

    • 2patricias profile image


      10 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Thanks for another interesting Hub. It reminds us of why our parents were always careful with food.

      Pat still has a couple of her mother's ration books from the USA. Some Brits are surprised that the USA also had rationing!

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      World War II was surely Britain's "Finest Hour," Jimmy. I remember well the rationing books my family received in Yonkers, New York, USA, because they had pictures of war planes and tanks, etc. There were stamps, and chips, too. My older brother, Don, had a Victory Garden in the small space behind our apartment building. I lived only a few blocks from a shipbuilding firm on the Hudson River where we children enjoyed the big parties they had when the ships were christened and sent off to war. Thanks for remembering.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      10 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Great hub Jimmy. Some of that spirit is needed today to deal with the effects of recession, mild compared with war's deprivation of course. I remember the ration books lying in the kitchen drawer, though I think rationing was over before I was born (1952).

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image


      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Jimmy, although I was born in a later era and learned of this period of time through secondary sources, I have always been impressed with the indomitable spirit shown by the British during world War II in the face of Hitler's intended aim to conquer all of Europe. Rationing was necessary, but the "Victory Gardens" had to be the absolute best!

      I find it fascinating how average citizens, for the greater good, simply denied themselves even some of life's bare necessities and just HELD ON until the tide turned in our favor. By God's grace, there were many heroes and heroines whose faith and determination brought an end to that war - many of whom never saw the front lines of battle but who were a critical part of winning our ultimate victory.


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