At the May meeting, following a short AGM, there was a talk by Mike Brown on ‘The Influence of the Great War on the Home Front in World War Two.’ As the start of WW2 was only 20 years after the end of the Great War, the authorities certainly remembered the lessons learnt.

In 1914 there was a rush of men to sign up, including about a third of the agricultural workforce and many dock workers. This led to food shortages due to lack of people to work on the labour intensive farms. Women gradually took over many jobs not done by them before. A Ministry of Food was set up in 1917, and land could be taken for allotments, as this was the year of the potato blight, but rationing was only introduced in 1919, after the war.

In 1939, the Ministry of Food was set up on 1st September and rationing announced in January 1940. The Women’s Land Army had been re-formed in 1938 as war was not unexpected.

In WW1, people in essential jobs were given badges ‘On War Service’ to show that they were not avoiding going to the war, as workers on munitions and at the docks, for example, were needed. In the second, there was a list of ‘reserved occupations’.

Other aspects covered were preparation of shelters, clothing shortages and petrol rationing. The talk was received with great interest, partly because many hearing it could remember the events of WW2!.

Adrienne Rogers
17 May 2016

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