Archive for the ‘Second World War’ Category

My week on World War Two rations

February 20, 2015

This week I’ve taken part in an experiment with the team at Findmypast, to live on a British ration allowance from the 1940s.

While it’s not what I’d usually describe as family history research, it definitely helped me understand what my grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents would have experienced during World War Two.

http://www.awin1.com/awclick.php?mid=2114&id=105943

What I’ve learned from WW2 ration week

I’ve actually really enjoyed the week – it’s been very achievable, even if the food did get a bit repetitive. I found that the key was to invest a bit of time at the start, making soups and casseroles that could last for a few days.

I tried my hardest to ‘waste not, want not’. One evening, I used the zest from my one orange to create scones based on a recipe I’d found in The British Newspaper Archive. The recipe had been printed in the Lichfield Mercury on 25 February 1944.

 

Recipe for orange zest scones from 1944

 

I would most certainly have thrown the peel away before, but the scones were lovely and really simple to make. I’ll definitely be using that recipe again.

 

Orange zest scones from WW2

 

The meat, milk and fat allowances were pretty high, but I did struggle with the limited amount of cheese and fish. I’m a bit of a cheese addict, so 60g a week just wasn’t enough.

It was also hard to live without tinned goods and out-of-season or imported fruit and vegetables. I’m very much looking forward to my first post-war banana on Monday!

What could you eat during World War Two?

Meat, cheese, eggs, milk, fat and sweets were all rationed during World War Two. These were the rules the Findmypast team followed, based on the weekly ration allowance for an adult in the early 1940s:

Weekly ration

  • Bacon or Ham (150g)
  • Meat (400g)
  • Fish (1 fish meal per week)
  • Cheese (60g)
  • Milk (3 pints / 1¾ litres)
  • Egg (1)
  • Butter (60g)
  • Margarine (110g)
  • Lard or dripping (110g)
  • Sugar (225g)
  • Jam (50g)
  • Sweets (75g)
  • Tea bags (16)
  • No proper coffee – instant only
  • No tinned food, except Spam

 

The points system

4 points per week to spend on the following options:

  • Dried pulses, oats, rice or barley (1 point per 225g of each)
  • Dried pasta (1 point per 110g)
  • Olive oil (1 point per 25ml)
  • Dried fruit (1 point per 225g)

 

Fruit and vegetables

  • Limit of one orange per week
  • Limit of one apple per day
  • No tropical or exotic items, like bananas
  • Make the most of root vegetables, plums and pears
  • Try to use fruits and vegetables currently in season

 

Other items that weren’t rationed

  • Wholemeal bread (slightly stale)
  • Sausages and offal, but the sausages should be mostly ‘bulk’ instead of meat
  • Cigarettes and alcohol, but availability varied

 

Embracing my maternal side

October 16, 2009

Good news! I’ve managed to fill in a bit more of my tree after a chat with the mother. Oddly, it seems that the lack of knowledge about my maternal family extends back another generation for while my mum could furnish me with information about her own parents, what she knew about her grandparents (my great-grandparents) was quite limited. What she was able to tell me, however, has revealed that both of my maternal grandparents had rather unsettled childhoods.

My great-grandmother Ada died early on in my grandfather’s life, when he was only about 10 years old. Subsequently, it seems that my great-grandfather Jack found it difficult to cope and eventually handed responsibility of his children over to their uncle and aunt, disappearing from their lives. According to my grandfather’s reports, he and his sister effectively lived as cheap labour for his uncle’s bakery business. He escaped from this as soon as he could, signing up with the RAF as a mechanic when the Second World War started and serving in the Far East.

My grandmother also lost a parent prematurely as my great-grandfather George sadly died when she was around two years old, leaving his widow Lucy to bring up their two young daughters alone. The family apparently believed that George’s death was a long-term result of being gassed in the First World War, an event that had left him with a persistent cough for the remainder of his life. Prior to speaking to my mum, I had always believed that my maternal ancestry was rooted in Hertfordshire. However, it seems that my great-grandmother Lucy and her family originally lived around West Ham, being evacuated out to Ware in Hertfordshire to work as land girls at the beginning of the Second World War.

It’s quite shocking to think that my great-grandmother Lucy would have been the only grandparent my mum knew when she was growing up. Indeed, my mum has actually never even seen a photograph of her paternal grandparents, Jack and Ada. Quite incredible, really. As a result of this, she was unable to fill in much of the factual information about my great-grandparents (such as dates of birth, marriage and death) that are needed to start tracing my lineage back further. To confirm these, I will need to dive into the birth, marriage and death indexes available at findmypast.co.uk .