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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Ration cards in Great War and WWII


Sinabhfuil
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Were there ration cards in Britain and in Germany in the Great War? Were they different from those in World War II?

And what about people working in top secret installations - did they have the same rations (and ration cards) as everyone else, or were they issued free high-protein food?

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There was certainly rationing in Britain in both world wars. I have no detailed knowledge of rationing in WW1, and it is possible some form of card was used.

In WW2 the word "card" did not apply and was never used. Each resident received a ration book, comprising a number of pages for the various goods. Clothing was also rationed, and there was a separate book for that purpose.

In WW2 there were no extra rations for any categories of people, save that children under five were specially entitled to oranges and orange juice.

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Thank you, MagnumBellum and CGM.

Do you know what would happen if someone were assigned to Bletchley or to wherever they trained people like Odette for spying abroad? Were their ration books used in a canteen? And was the food better in these places than in most?

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This seems really to be a technical question relating to WW2 rather than WW1. However, as the principle possibly applied in WW1, I will answer it.

Persons entering any non-self-catering residential establishment for more than a night or so were required to surrender their ration book to the administrators of the establishment, who would, under set procedures, claim the appropriate rationing quota for their residents. The quality of the fare provided would depend on the ingenuity and skill of those responsible for catering, including best use of the rationed supplies and what was available among non-rationed foods. There was no arrangement for any category of person necessarily to have better fare than any other category.

Since canteens have been mentioned, I should make clear that a canteen in a non-residential establishment, such as a factory or office, had a quota outside the ordinary rationing system, so that workers eating there had a meal on working days above and beyond their ordinary rations. It was partly to extend this "fringe benefit" to workers without a works canteen that British Restaurants were established, which also did not require production of ration books, and were open to the general public, not only workers.

CGM's contribution confirms that the term "ration book" was used in WW1 as well as WW2, and therefore the use of the term "ration card" in the title of the thread is inappropriate.

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Thanks very much, MagnumBellum, question answered.


By the way, I can't see any way to edit the original post to change it to 'ration book', so my mistake will have to stand.

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Oh no! I am so sorry - while looking at how to edit I deleted my original post which was #3 at the time.

I will re-write it here:

HERE is a Child's Ration Book dated 1918, courtesy of The London Borough of Bromley Museum Service.

Humble apologies :blush:

CGM

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Here is a WW1 Ration Book. It was issued, in January, 1919, to a returning Prisoner of War B249 Private Ernest Arthur Wright, Rifle Brigade.

Sepoy

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This is a useful contribution, in that it illustrates a point I implied in my previous post, but did not spell out, viz that in WW1 soldiers and sailors on duty did not hold ration books, their food being supplied directly by the army or navy. However, when on leave they were issued with a temporary one.

I believe that in WW2 members of the armed forces on leave had temporary ration cards rather than books.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is a complete 1918 WW1 set for you, with some unused coupons, issued when my grandfather went on English leave. Note that page 2 specifically mentions civilian use.

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