Award winning writer of fantasy and children’s stories, Wendy Scott, hosted me for Day 6 of my While the Bombs Fell book tour. She has a lovely site and a wonderful selection of books. This post is about the difference between life in a small English town during WWII and life now.
While the Bombs Fell
While the Bombs Fell focuses on my mother’s life during WWII from 1941, the year she turned three, until 1945, the year she turned seven.
Life for a small girl growing up in the small English town of Bungay during WWII was markedly different from life today. For the purposes of this article, I have focused on the home, food and school to highlight the many differences.
My mother was born in a small, double storied cottage, in a row of similar cottages on Nethergate Street in Bungay, Suffolk. She was the sixth’s child of Alfred and Hilda Hancy and had a baby brother. Her parents had lived in Bungay all their lives, as had their parents.
There was no television and the children occasionally went to the cinema for entertainment. The show always ended with everyone standing to sing the national anthem as a show of patriotism for Britain. Her father had a wireless, but he only used it to listen to the news in order to save electricity for the war effort.
The family did not have an indoor toilet and had to go outside to an “outhouse”. They did have a flushing toilet, but a lot of other families used a bucket system. The children used a chamber pot that was kept under the bed, if they needed the toilet during the night. The boys all slept in one bedroom and the girls in another. Her parents had their own bedroom with a cot for the baby.
There was no central heating. Everyday, her mother lit a coal fire to warm the main living area. Coal was rationed and had to be eked out in order to light the copper for the washing once a week and the oven on a Sunday to cook the tiny roast.
Food was rationed and sugar, butter, flour, meat and many other foodstuffs were in short supply. My mother’s family was better off than many because her father was a dairy farmer, so they had plenty of milk. Eggs were in short supply and smelled like the fish meal the chickens were fed. My mother’s father shot rabbits and other game that strayed onto the farm, to supplement their food supply.
The children often had bread, milk and a sprinkling of sugar for their evening meal and they were often hungry.
Every member of the family had their own ration book which contained coupons. When their mother went shopping for food or other rationed items, including clothes, the shopkeepers would cut out or sign the coupons. Many people grew vegetables in their gardens as part of Britain’s “Dig for Victory” campaign. Carrots and potatoes were used as a replacement from any other rationed products including sugar and flour. The British government distributed pamphlets containing recipes for “war-time” recipes to help people prepare healthy meals using the available ingredients.
There were no supermarkets and various shopkeepers supplied specialised products, such as the town baker, butcher and fishmonger.