The day after Britain rationed Bread

Monday 22nd July 1946 was the first day after the introduction of bread rationing in Britain. The country had been told that the ration would be on a varying scale for differing types of workers and for children of different ages. For the ordinary adult it would be nine ounces of bread per day, part of which may be taken in flour or cakes. The Food Minister’s announcement was described as “one of the gravest I have ever heard in time of peace” by Winston Churchill, who demanded that figures of stocks and movements of cereals should be produced by the Government to justify “this extreme measure”. The bread and flour rationing scheme provided for seven different categories of consumers, and their bread unit coupons would cover bread, flour, cakes, buns, and scones – in fact all flour products that were not already covered by the points system. Allowances to catering establishments were to be restricted, but there was special provision for industrial canteens and for the packed-meal schemes for workers on heavy manual jobs.

Agricultural workers getting the extra cheese ration would be able to get extra coupons. The ration entitlement was to be measured in bread units in the most complicated system the rationing schemes had ever imposed. The ‘simplified’ system said that the ‘ordinary adult’ – all the descriptions use the word ‘he/his’, females were ignored in the document  – could have nine ounces of bread a day and his bread units per week were also nine, which he spent by the use of coupons of varying values from the ordinary ration book. The essence of the plan, it was said, was to make the supplies go round until, in a few months, the country would get the advantage of the next harvest which, everyone was told, would be good. The reality, though, was that Bread rationing did not end until July 1948.

I remember this period.  Dad was back from the war and working in a factory; Mum also went out to work – I think on a farm.  Me?  I was at school and/or at my Nan and I can recall her giving me some of her bread when I was there – and going without herself.

I loved my Nan and I’m in the process of writing a little book about her and me!



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