Carrying on

The impact of war on everyone's daily life was huge. Routine things like getting ready for school, travelling to work, preparing dinner, watching a football match, going to the cinema or celebrating a birthday all had to change.

However it was important to try and carry on as normal. Not just for those fighting on the front line but also as a message to Germany and her allies that Britain would not be defeated. For those at home, winning the war meant using their rations wisely and providing their own food. Everyone had to make the most of what they had and volunteer spare time to help the war effort.

'There was always this anxiety about trying to live as normal a life as possible. The amazing thing is it brought people together.'
Charles Evans

On the ration

Rationing copy;Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

©Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

The government introduced food rationing on 8 January 1940. Everyone had a ration book and had to register with local shopkeepers. Bacon, ham, sugar and butter were the first to be put 'on the ration'.

Housewives had to work out what their family was allowed to buy and could afford to eat. They had to shop everyday and often wait in long queues. Feeding a family became harder as more foods were put on the ration. Without help from neighbours and relatives it was difficult to get by.

'Quick, go down to Waterworths and get in the queue. I've just heard they've got bananas in.'
Marion Browne

The kitchen front

How to make your family's rations last the week was a real problem. Everyone was encouraged to grow their own vegetables. If you had the space chickens, pigs and rabbits were valuable sources of eggs and meat.

Magazines, newspapers and radio programmes were full of recipe ideas for wartime housewives. Sardine fritters, curried carrots, Woolton Pie and mock bananas made with parsnips and milk - to name just a few. Any leftovers or scraps had to be put to good use and everyone was encouraged not to waste food.

'We used to supply scraps to a lady who had her own hens. She always made sure we had a couple of extra eggs.'
Audrey Bril

Doing without

Food was not the only thing that was in short supply. Clothes, household furnishings and petrol were rationed too. Most people had to make do with what they had before the war started or look out for second-hand items.

Clothing coupons were issued to everyone from June 1941. You had to make your allowance of up to 66 coupons last the year. If you had the money you could buy one new outfit. Finding clothes for children was a constant worry. The 'utility scheme' introduced clothes and furniture that made the best use of materials in short supply. You could also use coupons to buy material to make your own clothes.

'Clothes? It was hand-me-downs and it was 'First up, best dressed!''
Theresa McIntyre

Entertainment is essential

Although life on the home front was hard everyone tried to keep in good spirits. Blackout restrictions meant that many spent their evenings at home listening to the radio. Over 16 million people regularly tuned into the comedy show ITMA, 'It's That Man Again'.

More people than ever before went to the cinema. Films offered a brief escape from the hardships of war. The main feature followed government information films and newsreels. War films and romantic melodramas like 'Gone with the Wind' were the most popular.Concert halls and theatres remained open and people still visited their local pub. Although beer cost more and spirits were hard to come by pubs were an important part of community life.

'Troop concerts used to be in St George's Hall and you couldn't go in unless you had a sailor, soldier or airman with you.'
Mary Parr

Dancing and romancing

Wartime Romance - Photograph courtesy of Mr Dick Fennah

Courtesy of Mr Dick Fennah

Going dancing was a good night out and a great way to meet lots of servicemen and women. The Grafton and the Rialto were the places to go. Swing music and dance crazes like the Jive really took off. Their accent, uniforms and gifts of cigarettes and nylons made American soldiers popular with the ladies.

Separation, and the thought that your sweetheart might not return meant that more couples were getting married. Rationing made preparations very difficult.