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The Home Front

Updated on March 22, 2013

Make do and mend to win the war

'The Home Front' is the civilian contribution to winning a war. The phrase is most often used to describe the civilian efforts in Britain and America during WWII.

With a U-boat blockade in place, food and many other commodities were in short supply in Britain - and many were officially rationed to ensure fair distribution.

There are many lessons we can learn from the Make Do and Mend Era - saving ourselves money, and the planet into the bargain.

Rationing In Britain - A film from the Imperial War Museum

An American commentator looks at the effects of rationing on the people of England in 1944.

The Sunny Side of the Street - Britain's Home Front

The Ministry of Food video

IWM Head of Research and Information James Taylor gives some historical background to the upcoming The Ministry of Food exhibition at IWM London, opening 12 February 2010.

1940s House - A modern family tries to live by wartime rules

A modern family moves into the 1940s house, and tries to live with the same restrictions as households faced in wartime Britain. They must endure rationing, dig for victory and contribute to the war effort.

1940s House
1940s House

One modern family takes on the challenge of domestic life on Britain's home front in this recreation of a World War II household. This time-travel experiment covers the period from the outbreak of the war in 1939 to Victory Day in 1945, compressing the events of six wartime years into nine weeks.

While the military threat is metaphorical, the privations are real and the pressure creates tensions nonexistent in modern society. The program inevitably becomes a critique of modern materialism and complacency.


Wartime Recipes - How to make the most of your food

Wartime recipes made the best of what was available - healthy and frugal, many are now making a comeback.

The Home Front Slideshow

Eating for Victory - Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations

Eating for Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations
Eating for Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations

Food rationing was introduced in England in January 1940 after supply ships were attacked by German U-boats. The first food items to be rationed were butter, sugar, bacon, and ham, though restrictions were also eventually placed on meat, fish, jam, biscuits, cheese, eggs, and milk. In response, the Ministry of Food produced a series of "Eating for Victory" pamphlets that advised the general public on how to cope with these shortages. Designed to lift spirits in a time of shortage, these jolly leaflets contained a variety of recipes and cooking advice ranging from how to make steamed and boiled puddings and hints on how to reconstitute dried eggs. For all the hardship that rationing brought, the food restrictions resulted in many people eating more healthily than ever before. A nostalgic look back at one of the most difficult and yet healthiest times in history, this quaint collection is also a relevant guide to good eating today.


Make Do and Mend: Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations - A reproduction of an official WWII guide to living within your clothing ration

Make Do and Mend: Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations
Make Do and Mend: Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations

With the nation's industrial output concentrated on the war effort and a clothes ration in place by June 1940, basic clothes were in short supply in wartime England and high fashion was an unknown commodity. Adults were issued as little as 36 coupons a year to spend on clothes, but a man's suit could cost 22 coupons, a coat 16, and a lady's dress 11. The need to recycle and be inventive with other materials became more and more necessary, and so the government issued a series of leaflets containing advice on how to make fabric and clothing go the extra mile.

Reproduced in this intriguing collection, these pamphlets included tips on recycling curtains into dresses and instructions for turning old sheets into underwear. Covering darning, patching, knitting, and more, this is a nostalgic look at the innovative thriftiness of the 1940s.


The Ration Book Diet - A modern recipe book model on Home Front meals

The Wartime diet that our parents and grandparents had to endure during the dark days os the Second World War may seem unappealing to modern tastes, but its low fat, high fibre and sensibly sized portions meant that the British population enjoyed a level of health and fitness unsurpassed since 1945.

Using the wartime diet as a model, sixty recipes have been specially created to enable you and your family to eat more healthily. Some are taken straight from Second World War cookery books, with only minor adjustments to suit the 21st century palate. For the most part, however, new dishes have been created to use the same range of rationed ingredients available to housewives during the war. These original recipes and variations have been combined to produce a day-by-day meal plan for a week. Added to this basic diet plan are recipes for treats and special occasiona, not forgetting food for children and some helpful advice on what to do with leftovers.

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    • sallemange profile image

      sallemange 5 years ago

      I was staggered to read the other day just how much food we produced in Britain in allotments and local gardens during the war. Our over reliance on the sophisticated marketing machines we call 'supermarkets' (what is 'super' about them i don't know) means that millions of people 'sleep walk' into them without a thought about the systemic community benefits of producing local food.