I’m always fascinated about the what life was like living in Britain during the 2nd World War, especially for those women left at home whilst their husbands and brothers fought in the military overseas. I was therefore pleased to see a couple of articles on the BBC News website today about the Land Girls and Lumber Jills receiving official recognition for the role that they played during the War. It is sad that they have had to wait for so long, but better late than never.
The stories of some of these women are fascinating. I found this photojournal online, but I’ll certainly be looking out for further stories. When reading about the roles that debutantes took on in Debs at War the Land Girls weren’t really mentioned (probably as it was too much like hard physical outdoor work for some of these women?) Another area of wartime history to seek out further reading on.
These women were another part of the rich patchwork of roles that women took on whilst their menfolk were away. Whilst at the Jersey War Tunnels over the weekend I spent some time going round their exhibition on life in the Channel Islands whilst under German occupation. I hadn’t realised then that there was also rationing during the occupation and it was fascinating to see examples of the way that they had to “make do and mend”. A couple that I particularly remember are the shoes that were fixed with wood in the soles so that one family managed on one pair of shoes each for the whole five year occupation, and the tin food cans that were turned into small saucepans by welding on a metal handle. Ingenious.
Learning about rationing has certainly made me think much more careful about what I use in the kitchen and trying to minimise my food waste. I was baking a cake this evening when things started to go a bit wrong (cook to blame I guess rather than the delicious sounding recipe from Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats) and whilst getting quite frustrated with myself I found myself thinking about how much in terms of sugar and butter rations allowances I would have wasted if I didn’t manage to salvage what I was making.