End of Rationing - World War II

Food rationing was temporarily introduced in 1939 by the Ministry of Food because of the difficulties with importing food by sea, and to prevent panic stockpiling.

Individuals were required to register at chosen shops in order to receive a ration book. Shopkeepers were supplied with enough food for registered customers and coupons from the ration book would be cancelled as purchases were made.

My Grandfather, Harry Burfield ran the village stores in East Winch and my mother, Merle, can recount a few memories of the days of rationing. Dried fruit was especially in short supply and bananas were practically unheard of! My Grandfather would withhold tins of salmon until he had enough to distribute amongst his customers to ensure that no-one could complain of favouritism! Of course, there were some, who shall be nameless, who tried to get extra rations but were unsuccessful in their plight! People found ways of coping with rationing by substitution, one customer took to putting golden syrup in his tea instead of sugar in order to eke out the sugar allowance!

After 14 years, food rationing ended at midnight on 4th July 1954. The process had begun in 1948 but had made slow progress until 1953 when the then Food Minister Gwilym Lloyd-George made it a priority for his department.

The following record is taken from an article printed in The Lynn News in 1954;

The Lynn and District Grocers Association celebrated the end of rationing by ‘burying’ ration points in a cardboard coffin. A wreath on the top of the coffin formed the shape of a pair of scissors and flowers were ration points.

Putting the ration points in the cardboard coffin at the Dukes Head. My Grandfather, Harry Burfield, is in the centre of the picture (wearing spectacles)

A ‘mock’ funeral was held, the deceased being “the Hon

Percival A.B.C. Points, eldest son of Lord Ration de Food O.B.E. and Lady Y. Ration de Food” This event was apparently the highlight of the social and dance evening held at the Dukes Head.

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Shortly before 10pm, the coffin was taken from the Dukes Head by members of the Grocer’s Association, acting as parson and pall bearers, wearing top hats, frock coats and grocers aprons.

This article was submitted by Wendy Smith.

The procession ended at the Lynn Food office in King Street, where the coffin was deposited.

A cartoon of the grocer’s ‘friend’, Mr Strachey (1), was pinned on the main entrance door to the building, to the dismay of the staff turning up for work the following morning!

(1) Evelyn John St. Loe Strachey was a Labour M.P. and Minister of Food between the 27th May 1946 and 28th February 1950.