Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 48

life THE ISLAND AT WAR 1939 - 1945 In the beginning bacon, butter and sugar were rationed, followed by meat, tea, jam, biscuits, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit. In April 1942 the Ministry of Food’s leaflet suggested ways to make carrot meri ngue tartlets, carrot marmalade and carrot candy and boiled stinging nettle soup. Snook fish was available off ration but it seems that most people only tried it once and the Stork Wartime Cookery Book produced ideas for stretching or shrinking your family meals, plus Civilian ration book, food rationing was introduced on 8th January money saving meat 1940 (Carisbrooke Castle Museum) dishes and “How to confectioners are still allocated sugar save your dinner if there was an air raid.” based on peacetime holiday consumption,” Joan Kirkby remembers queuing at the official said, “and similarly, drapers’ Hayles Pork Butchers in St. James Square supplies are estimated on their pre-war for breakfast sausage that was sold ‘off orders.” ration’ and together with an egg, made a The Mayor of Ryde, Councillor H.W.O. delicious pie. Obesity was a word that was Weeks was quick to defend the Island. seldom heard because, she says, everybody “The Island certainly is an Isle of Plenty,” was slimmer and fitter on account of the he said, “but the people deserve to feed rationing. well. We are right in the front line here, Of course there were grumbles and visited by sneak raiders daily.” To be fair, complaints from people including the men the reporter did add that the abundance in Parkhurst prison. The Isle of Wight of food he had seen on his visit was County Press reported on 8 August,1941, largely due to the industrious islanders. that rowdy demonstrations against food “Everybody grows vegetables or keeps rationing had become very frequent and chickens or rabbits and there are pig clubs some of the prisoners had refused to eat everywhere” he said. vegetable soup at dinner-time, saying they Andrew and Rosemary Asher remember wanted soup with meat in it. They also each household was allowed to keep one complained about the shortage of jam at pig (if you had two you told the official it tea-time having conveniently forgotten belonged to someone else.) “The ‘pig boy’ that they had opted to have jam with came round once a week with a cart to their pudding at dinner-time. The paper collect scraps for the pigs” said Rosemary printed a typical daily menu at Parkhurst and Andrew remembers, and finished by saying, “The prisoners are “If you went to the sweet shop in the Old still better off than many people outside Village run by Dolly Feltham, you got who had to earn their living.” extra sweets and it was worth listening to Nigel Harris says, “Food rationing was Porky Mew’s ailments to get him to slip beginning to bite and although we weren’t you an extra bit of butter.” desperately hungry, we were always on the 48 lookout for food.” Cycling home from work, he would stop if he saw a farmer harvesting his wheat, grab a stout stick and follow behind the combine harvester hoping to clout any rabbits he saw hiding in the stubble. Clothes rationing had come into effect on 1 June 1941 and at first, everyone received sixty-six coupons a year which was slashed to forty in 1943 and rose slightly to forty-eight in 1944 but loose coupons could sometimes be bought on the black market. People soon learned to ‘make do’ and not to throw things away if they could be used again. Crêpe de chine sheets were turned into dresses and blankets into coats, cast offs and hand-me-downs were remodelled, cut down and sewn up to provide new outfits and the government ran classes in how to turn old curtains, furnishing fabrics, men’s trousers, sheets and pillowcases into dresses, skirts and blouses. But hard times inspired women’s ingenuity. Faced with a shortage of silk stockings they used a little imagination to get round the problem, carefully staining their legs with tea, or even gravy and then drawing a line with eye liner for the stocking seam. The Ryde store of S. Fowler and Co., must have caused a sensation among the Island’s female population when they advertised, “We have just received delivery of a few dozen pairs of Pure Silk Stockings. These are slightly sub-standard and necessarily cannot be guaranteed. To make this small supply go as far as possible we are asking our customers to limit their purchases to two pairs. Prices 5/3 - 5/11d." Perhaps Christine Macpherson was one of the lucky customers when she married Peter Ferguson at St. Mary’s church in Carisbrooke on 10 February 1945. She says that though clothes were no problem for the men – Peter wore his R.A.S.C. uniform and the best man was in flannels, she had to borrow a wedding dress and veil from her friends. Her family had saved coupons for her going-away outfit and she bought a pale blue dress advertised in the Isle of Wight County Press for five pounds for Maureen Coombes, her chief bridesmaid. She remembers people gave fruit and sugar so that their guests could enjoy an iced wedding cake at the reception in the The Island's new funky radio station www.wightfm.com