Striving for Victory – Fashion on the Ration: a Letter from Rose

 

In April 1942 the clothing ration had been cut to 48 coupons and additional restrictions were placed so that more resources could be used for the war effort. As part of our rationing challenge,  we are attempting to better understand what our foremothers experienced by reporting our experiences in a series of letters between two sisters, Lily and Rose.

This is what Rose has to say for herself for the month of April.

April 17, 1942

Dear Lily,

Did you hear on the wireless the other day that that taxes on some things such as alcohol, tobacco, tickets to the cinema and COSMETICS will increase to benefit the war effort. They are also going to ban lace on our knickers (I wonder how they will check). Anyways, Cousin Daisy and I decided that now was the time to sew our selves some new knickers before the ban on lace comes into effect.  I’ve been keeping my eyes out for a parachute but no luck so far.

Instead, we practiced a little “make do and mend” and cut up an old set of  curtains we found in the attic when we took the new baby to visit Great Aunt Hyacinth in Glasgow.  I feel like the ban on lace has already taken effect because we couldn’t find any for sale any where!

The trip down to Glasgow on the train was pleasant enough if you consider travelling with a newborn pleasant! We brought a picnic lunch to eat and our own mugs for tea. On the advice of a neighbour who made the trip a week ago, we brought our own hand soap and loo paper too.  It seems that people have been stealing these items so that they don’t have to use up their own rations.

As you know, Great Aunt Hyacinth had to move in with her married daughter Cousin Iris after she lost her home in the Clyebank Blitz last year. She is doing fine even though she is stuffed into a tenement with Cousin Iris and her 5 children. Aunt Hyacinth has come to peace with the fact that Uncle Reed lost his life that day and she finds comfort in her grandchildren but I see her at the window watching for him to come home every evening just before tea.

Left to right. Dalmuir looking East, Kilbowie Road, Dalmuir looking West
Pictures from http://www.tommckendrick.com/code/blitzpage2.html

I heard on the grapevine, well Great Aunt Hyacinth had a letter from mum,  that you may be keeping company with a handsome Canadian solider! That is very exciting and you must write me back and tell me all about it.

I will tell you my secret, if you promise not to tell mum and dad.  I went out to a matinee to see Casablanca with a very nice solider from America.  What a great movie! Ingrid Bergman was so beautiful and she wore such lovely clothes.  The shops here are looking a little bare otherwise I would spend every single one of my clothing coupons trying to buy everything she wore!  Anyways, this Yank lent me a book called A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  I will return it to him when I am done reading it and if he ever makes it back this way. He was a very nice boy but I don’t think we really hit it off the whole date was a bit of a flat tire.  I only went with him because one of the other girls in the bakery is completely Khaki-Whacky and was all googly eyed for his friend. She didn’t want to seem too forward by going alone with him on a date, so off I went.

Now for the happy news, Baby Violet was born March 21, 1942.  She was a big baby and she is ever so pretty.  She has big blue eyes and hardly cries at all.  Little Basil is in love with his new sister and sings lullabies to her when she fusses.  Cousin Daisy is doing well and is pretty much back to her normal (grumpy) self. Cousin Herb was once again busy with his camera and he took this picture to send back so that everyone can see what a beauty she is.

This is actually a picture of my mom. She was a war time baby and such a cutie I couldn’t help using her picture.

Write me back as soon as you can! I know you are working hard delivering messages as a dispatch rider but I must know about the Canadian solider!

Give my love to Mom and Dad.

 

 


If you want to join in, please do!  We have a collection of resources available on Pintrest and Youtube. We would love to hear about your experiences. If you have a  story to tell, please leave a comment or post a picture on instagram with the hashtag  #strivingforvictory.

And one more request, if you enjoy or find value in any of our posts, please consider making a donation to Sheepdog Lodge to support those for whom the horrors of war are not in the past.

 

4 Comments

  1. I admire all the research that you are putting into your very enjoyable letters letters! Indeed, who were the undie lace inspectors?! Like a lot of the civilian campaigns, I imagine this was also to engender new avenues of solidarity for the war effort, as several years in emotional and deprivation fatigue were needing constant shoring up.
    I remember being terrified viewing the photos of the blitz aftermaths….. can’t fathom being there. Youtube had a lot on the Clydebank blitz, which I revisited after I read this. Even more terrifying today.

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    1. I am loving the research. The Man is from Clydebank so there is a kind of second hand personal connection. He was born after the war but it is still part of our living history. It takes your breath away a little when you realize that it is not ancient history at all and you can walk the same streets that were so badly damaged. It also makes me so profoundly grateful that I have no personal experience with living through a war. I hope I never do.

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