SHAMUS IN LONDON | Post-War Rationing

Updated: Nov 12

In 1947, two years after the end of World War 2 and the same year that Shamus Dust is set, Gallup polled the British Public and asked what their no-expense-spared fantasy meal would be. Well it turned out that above all, most people in England wanted a good square meal like the ones they remembered before rationing started. According to Gallup the menu on the right here is what ordinary folk had in mind.

For most people, during and after the war, a meal like this was the stuff of dreams. And wine? You have to be kidding. Wine was for strictly for the toffs! Cigarettes though, you might smoke as many as you could afford or otherwise get hold of - all through the war and after, they were never rationed.

Set aside the dancing in the streets of England on 8 May 1945 as World War 2 ended, much of Europe was in ruins, it's people homeless and starving. And so rationing in England not only continued but battened down tighter for several years after the war as food and clothing, already short in England, went to feed the people they'd been fighting.

To make matters worse, the summer of 1946 brought so much rain that it ruined Britain's wheat crop. Bread rationing started.

Hard frosts and deep snows in the winter of 1946-1947 destroyed huge amounts of stored potatoes, vegetables and fruit. Potato rationing started.

Coal was in short supply and still rationed.

Then, as summer came on, transport and dock workers came out on strike, and until the Army broke the strike, much needed imported meat and fruit was left in warehouses or on dock sides to rot.

Tea and sugar, eggs, meat and cheeses weren't freely available for another 7-9 years!

And to cap it off, rationing of staples such as bread and potatoes - never really a problem during the war years - were now only available on ration.

Here a shopkeeper cancels coupons in a British housewife's ration book for the tea, sugar, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week. It's not a lot is it?

Housewives went on queuing, quietly - and not so quietly - complaining and making do.

In their spare time men dug their gardens or allotments, as if the war had never finished, to put more vegetables and fruit on the table.

Workers had to make do with even fewer sandwiches in their packed lunches.

A generation of kids never knew what fish and chips were.

Cakes were for bakery store windows. Chocolate - for most British people - just a distant memory.

Check out these videos and websites for more on rationing in Britian:

Photo Credits:

Janet Roger is the author of SHAMUS DUST : HARD WINTER, COLD WAR, COOL MURDER - available for purchase on Amazon UK and Amazon US

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