To young people now the war is just history, their grandparents were born after the war, sometimes even their great-grandparents were…It truly was a different world, a very different world and here in Britain where food supplies were cut off, husbands, fathers, brothers and sons away fighting and serving abroad and at home, women out working instead of in the home, over a million and a half children, women, and vulnerable people evacuated far from their homes and apart from their friends and family, the ordinarty world changed forever.
What is also difficult to properly put over and explain is how lives were different for years and years after the war; the terrible bomb damage all across the country – when I first went to Manchester in 1969 there were still bomb sites in the city. Rationing continued for almost ten years for some food items and people had to be self-reliant in a way which is enviable and yet also hard to imagine!
Here is an evocative little piece by the wonderful Ruth Drew, in her book The Happy Housewife, which is about much more than ‘just’ being a housewife. If you can get hold of a copy I really do recommend it, a fascinating, informative, and very amusing read:
War sent the clock whizzing back for all of us in many different ways. We walked abroad at night in dark streets; we cultivated our plot of land or even our window box and made full use of its produce: we relied on our legs instead of petrol engines: and we found ourselves, every now and again, busily engaged in bartering like ancients instead of shopping like the moderns: and that meant moving backwards in time to the very beginning of shopping.