Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

Forgive me if I drag up the past. I suppose it’s the result of
reading 'Stalingrad’ made me remember wartime. My family was extremely lucky, we saw virtually
nothing of the blitz apart from hearing German bombers flying over and seeing the glow of the fires over Manchester in the night sky.

As a small boy, living during the war was quite exciting seeing convoys of soldiers, reading of battles, playing with toy tanks and soldiers and seeing dramatic newsreels at the cinema.

Rationing began on 8th January 1940 when bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. By 1942 many other foodstuffs, including meat, milk, cheese, eggs and cooking fat were also ‘on the ration’.

Some of the weekly food rations for an adult:
Ration book

Bacon & Ham 4 oz
Butter 2 oz
Cheese 2 oz
Milk 3 pints
Sugar 8 oz
Tea 2 oz
Sweets 12 oz every 4 weeks

For a working family rationing even had some benefits. Food prices were controlled and there was more emphasis on vegetables and balanced diets. This meant that nutrition levels rose during the war. Nor was there the same sense of hardship for many working people. One housewife remarked, 'We've been rationed for years, so it's nothing new to us'.
As a child, rationing
Queue For Food
was no hardship, my mother managed the rations and I never went short of food. She must have borne the brunt of any difficulties but it didn’t impinge on my young life. I missed sweets and we youngsters got used to eating Horlicks tablets and Zubes as a substitute.

We were urged to eat carrots which were not rationed and they became even more popular when
British propaganda, designed to hide the secrets of our air-to-air Radar, published stories of 'Cats eyes Cunningham', a successful night fighter pilot who, it was said, attributed his success to staring a a brick wall and eating carrots. Small boys could be seen everywhere gazing vacantly at the wall and chomping away on raw carrots.

When the USA joined the war and American soldiers arrived in England there was some resentment at
Toilet rolls
their standard of living as against our austerity, with much better uniforms than ours and limitless chewing gum and 'candy' bars. Even their rations of toilet paper was a source of comment.

These days 'Bad news' is good news for journalists. It must be what we demand. Perhaps we are not so interested when the FTSE climbs but read avidly when it falls by three or four percent. The war years, in spite of all the difficulties, were a time of 'good news'. Probably as the result of Government directives, wartime disasters were played down and successes were played up and even exaggerated. For example, on September 16th 1940, newspapers reported that Fighter Command had shot down 183 German aircraft. In fact, the real figure was 56. We lapped it up.

As a child the war lasted a third of my life - no wonder it is something which occupies so much of my memory.

Arthur 10

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