Compulsory powers for the use of potatoes in making bread in order to obtain uniformity within the district

Tea was set to be the next item on the rationing list.

17th May 1918

A Memo. From the Ministry of Food with reference to the proposed system of Tea Distribution based on the registration of customers, was considered. The Committee expressed themselves in favour of compulsory rationing throughout the Kingdom, but considered the ration proposed by the Ministry to be insufficient.

A Circular letter with reference to the National Kitchens Order 1918 as to the desirability of providing a National Kitchen for this area, was considered; but as the matter was under consideration of the Education Committee, it was considered desirable to await the result of that Committee’s report.

The Committee considered it desirable to obtain compulsory powers for the use of potatoes in making bread in order to obtain uniformity within the district, and the Executive Officer was instructed to communicate with the Ministry accordingly.

A special supply of jam having been obtained, the Committee decided that the same should be distributed through the medium of customers’ margarine cards, which were to be specially marked.

Surplus butter was allowed to be preserved up to 10 lbs per person until the 1st July next.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

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“A dirty morning but bad for the Hun so it’s a good day after all”

Percy Spencer wrote a long letter to his sister Florence based on his diary.

May 13, 1918

Ny dear WF

It’s along time since I wrote you, but now I swear to steal an hour and give you a sort of diary of events.

First of all, though, before I forget them list of wants –

Propane Royal Navy dressing
2 pairs long cord laces for field boots
Wrights coal tar soap

Also what does my baccy cost out of bond? What would 50 small size Meriel de luxe cigars cost out of bond? And what would 100 reasonably good Virginia cigarettes cost out of bond?

If you could do all that for me when passing the tobacconist, the chemist & Thrussell’s. I shall be very grateful.

I’m trying hard for your sake to keep a diary that is within the law. Just how far I had got in my last letter I forget, so forgive me if I repeat myself.

On My 3rd Ridley, my No. 6 in the famous Eight, turned up and talked over our Trinity days.

The next day was mostly solid work. Colonel P[arish]’s band played at mess, I think it was that evening the Mayor dined with us and we drank to France and the King, and everyone was awfully friendly and nothing disturbed the harmony except Col. P’s boyish anxiety for Paddy, a lovely Irish terrier, the regimental mascot, which is always being stolen. Paddy was tied to the big iron entrance gates while the band played, and every few minutes Col. P jumped up to see none of the crowd outside had borrowed him.

On the 5th the Padre, a delightful fellow, messed with us. The CO wound up a jolly evening with an imaginary stroll “down the Dilly”.
The next day was wet. M. Le Maire [the local mayor] dined with us and under the influence of his own good brandy made a clean breast of buried souvenirs de la guerre.

The 7th was a red letter day. Many honours were received by the Division, Col. P getting a DSO and our own CO his 2nd bar to DSO.
In the evening another padre came in and talked politics & economies till a late hour.….

The 8th was a lovely day. The field cashier turned up short of cash & I had to cycle to another village to get money for the boys. Me. Le Maire [the local mayor] again dined with us & collared lots of bread. Col. P spent the evening gloating over the anticipation of leave and going [on] imaginary walks all over London much to our CO’s disgust. The APM lunched with us and told us amusing “3rd degree” trial stories.

The 9th produced the best story I’ve heard for along time. Told me by an interpreter at lunch who had been engaged upon taking a census of people in a certain village in the forward village [sic] and persuading them to leave. An elderly lady refused to go without her children. And how many children have you, enquired the interpreter. I don’t know, she replied. But surely madam! Exclaimed the interpreter. Pointing to the yard crowded with Tommies, she exclaimed, “There are my children: when they go, I go.”

10th Paterson the popular officer of my old regiment dined with us.
On the 11th I had tea with my old friends Tyrrell, Garwood & a host of others. They all made me very welcome, only “Miss Toms” couldn’t remember to call me anything but “Sergeant Spencer”.

In the evening another Regimental Band played outside my orderly room, conducted to my pleasant surprise by the private in my platoon in England who is a Mus. Doc. [doctor of music] & deputy organist of St Paul’s. Col. P went on leave. I prosecuted in a case for him.

12th: a very uneventful day because I have heard the full song of a Bosch shell for the first time for 10 months. Had a long chat with the CO who said the folks forward were finding me very useful. A letter too from a wounded Major in England arrived saying nice things about me. I’m easily getting to the not altogether enviable position of having a reputation to live up to. By the way I might say here that KK has been perfectly charming to me.

And that brings me up to today – a dirty morning but bad for the Hun so it’s a good day after all.

Give my love to all at 29 & let me know if you don’t like this sort of letter.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister (D/EZ177/7/7/35-36)

The lives of these PoWs seem to depend on the food sent them from England

PoWs depended on food sent from home.

Mrs. Barnett has undertaken to collect eggs for the Reading Branch of the National Egg Collection for Wounded Soldiers. Gifts of eggs will be gratefully received at the Vicarage.

The Vicar has had an appeal to help to collect for the Royal Berkshire Regiment Prisoners of War Fund on May 11th. 1918.

The Care Committee are responsible for sending parcels of food to 405 prisoners and bread to 473, the cost of which exceeds £14,000 per annum — £2000 of which is spent on bread. This is a very urgent matter as the lives of these men seem to depend on the food sent them from England. The Vicar will gladly receive donations, large and small, and if they are sent to him before May 11th he will forward them to the Committee as a gift from Bracknell.

Bracknell section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, May 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/5)

‘He has lately been on “hunger strike”, although I had my doubts about it being complete’

The Schraplowsky saga rolled on. Had his hunger strike caused the Polish internee to lose weight?

Place of Internment
Reading
8th May 1918

H. Schraplowsky

I have previously reported fully on this man’s case, and the letters he refers to are with the Prison Commissioners.

Taken from his record his weights are:

On arrest 23.6.15 – 222 lbs (dress not stated) – was then at Brixton
Reading 21.3.16 214 lbs
31.3.17 203 lbs (dress – without cap, coat or boots)
19.3.17 [sic?] 194 lbs

H M Prison
Reading
May 8 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the petition of H. Schraplowsky. He has lost a certain amount of weight, rather in my opinion to his advantage than otherwise. He is a dyspeptic to a moderate extent. This is not to be wondered at considering his fits of temper and his stand upon his grievances.

I have allowed him rice in place of bread, with pint of porridge extra. The bread however is digested by both officers and interned men. He has lately been on “hunger strike”, although I had my doubts about it being complete. The mixture that he refers to is a suitable one for gastric and intestinal dyspepsia.

W S Freeman

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Temporary apparent chaos

The Spencer brothers were both subject to a temporary reprieve.

Sydney Spencer
Wednesday 8 May 1918

After a good sleep from 4.30 till 9.30 I was called to go with Dillon to BHQ, to speak for 2 lance corporals (vide April 29). This was postponed so I washed, shaved & had a thorough good clean up after yesterday night’s escapade. Felt much lighter round the nether regions after I had removed the mud from trousers & boots. Had a short snooze after lunch. Then viewed scene for new bivys.

At 3 pm this afternoon we were informed that the company would move up a bit – consequence temporary apparent chaos while everyone ‘scrounged’ bits of wood & corrugated iron, old doors etc lying about for making new bivys. Finally we got the men fairly settled in by about 7 pm. Had dinner at 6.30 so as to give the men a chance of getting mess stuff away. While cutting ‘broom’ for our bivy, men from D Company passing by, not knowing me: “Hullo George, what yer doing… [remainder illegible but seems to be vulgar].

Percy Spencer
8 May 1918

A lovely day. Huns didn’t come up to time. Field cashier who had no cash – aide to contrary. Walk up to Hunancourt. Saw 1st shell hole for 10 months. Haven’t heard them shell again yet.

A jolly evening. Col. Parish gloating over leave & going down walks in various parts of London. Me le Maire [the local mayor] again dined with us & collared lots of bread. Fitzclarence lunched with us & told good stories of 3rd degree trial re loss of 5000 francs. Also of Mrs R- of Rouen.

Hun attack reported postponed 3 days.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

“The bread is quite good, and I buy it myself”

Herman von Shraplowsky was a middle aged Russian stockbroker. Neither convicted or an enemy alien, why had he even been interned for over two years?

Place of Internment, Reading
22nd April 1918

H. Schraplowsky
22.5.15 S of S Order, Aliens Act, Deportation

The above named Alien was visited on the 20th inst. by Mrs Schraplowsky and Miss Cornish (friend) of 66 Station Rd, Church Rd, Finchley, London.

The conversation was upon family matters. The Alien stated he had written a letter to his wife concerning the bread, which he was unable to eat, but that the letter was suppressed.

C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

22 April 1918
H. Schraplowsky

Prisoner wrote a letter to his wife abusing the Medical Officer and stating that he could not eat the bread. I told the man that the letter was untrue and offensive, and that he could rewrite it. He began again to abuse the Medical Officer and said he would write the same thing. So I ordered letter to be suppressed as a forfeit.

C M Morgan
Governor

The bread is quite good, and I buy it myself in preference to bread that can be bought elsewhere.

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Experimental baking

The impact of food shortages is reflected in the new recipes for bread tried at Reading Prison.

9th March 1918
Circular No. 41 – 15.2.18

Referring to the above on the subject of the use of potatoes in breadmaking, I have to report that a new supply of Government Regulation flour has this week been obtained from a local firm, Messrs S M Soundy & Son, and an experimental bake produced. The percentage of only 23 per cent. With previous flour 24 was [used?].
Governor

Noted – No doubt the percentage of grain will vary with the flour.
Is the bread otherwise satisfactory?
[Illegible signature]
12.3.18

Yes, the bread is now quite good, we tried adding more water to make a larger percentage, but the flour would not take it up, and the result was bad.
C M Morgan
Gov
13-12-18

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Many anti-submarine proposals have been received

An internee’s proposals for trapping enemy submarines were greeted with a signal lack of enthusiasm, while the imposition of rationing meant the Place of Internment (aka Reading Prison) had to revamp menus.


Board of Invention & Research
Victory House
Cockspur St
SW1

21-2-18

Sir

I am directed by the Board of Invention & Research to thank you for your letter of the 14th inst: transmitting particulars of anti-submarine proposals put forward by alien C. Slingeneyer, interned at Reading.

In reply, I beg to inform you that many similar proposals have already been received from various sources. If however the Inventor will be good enough to furnish a full description of the device to which he calls attention, the matter will receive careful consideration; and I am to ask that, if no objection be seen, alien C. Slingeneyer may be informed accordingly.

I am, sir,
Your obedient servant
Walter J. James

21-2-18
The Gov. P of I Reading

With ref: to the system of rationing which will shortly come into operation, the enclosed scale of dietary will be taken into use at your Establishment – as soon as you can make the necessary arrangements. The Commission desire to leave you a free hand as to the manner in which the ingredients shall be prepared and the Con: Pn: dietary is enclosed for your information. This, together with the present dietary for interned prisoners will be a guide as to the distribution of the various articles.

Fresh fish will be issued alternately with salt fish. The Commission are arranging for the supply of fresh fish to all Establishments and instructions will shortly reach you on this point.

The dietary cards at present in use will be withdrawn when the new dietary is introduced. On the introduction of the new dietary, no prisoner will be permitted to purchase rationed articles, or articles containing ingredients which are rationed. The rationed articles are bread, cereals (including flour, oatmeal, rice, tapioca, barley, beans, peas etc), meat, sugar, margarine or butter, fats, oils etc.

Signed Alfred Wall, Sec:

Breakfast Bread 6 oz
Porridge 1 pint
Margarine 1 oz
Tea or Coffee

Dinners

Sunday Bread 2 oz
[Illegible] Meat 2 ½ oz
Potatoes 16 oz
Rice 3 oz (uncooked)
Jam 2 oz

Monday Bread 2 oz
Soup 1 pint (containing 3 oz clods, 4 oz peas, 2 oz vegetables, 2 oz onions)
Potatoes 16 oz

Tuesday Bread 2 oz
Fish 12 oz uncooked
Potatoes 16 oz
Rice 3 oz uncooked made into puddings

Wednesdays Bread 2 oz
Salt Pork 13 oz
Haricot Beans [1 ½ oz?]
Potatoes 16 oz
Apple rings or fresh fruit

Thursday Bread 2 oz
Beef 6 oz uncooked
Potatoes 16 oz

Friday Bread 2 oz
Vegetable soup 1 pint consisting of 2 oz vegetables, 1 oz onions, ¼ oz fish, 5 oz peas
[Illegible]

Saturday Bread 2 oz
Fish 12 oz uncooked
Potatoes 16 oz
Tapioca 3 oz
Jam 2 oz

Suppers Bread 6 oz
Cocoa or Tea 1 pint
Margarine ¼ oz
Potatoes 6 oz
Cheese 1 oz

Fish – fresh and salt alternate days.

As the meat ration increases, the vegetable soup on Fridays will contain clods.

Fresh vegetables for part ration potatoes when obtainable.

These men can of course buy at the canteen or elsewhere such things as eggs, fruit, tinned fish &c: in fact anything that can be bought outside, not rationed, as in the past.

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

The general condition of strain consequent on the war

The Anglican Community of St John Baptist, whose headquarters was at Clewer, always fasted during Lent. But the food shortages meant they had to impose a different regime this year.

10 February 1918

The following directions were sent to all the Houses of the Community with reference to the rule of fasting to be observed during the coming Lent this year.

“In consequence of the general condition of strain consequent on the war, the Warden & Mother feel that the usual Lenten rule cannot be kept this year.

There will be dry bread for breakfast only on Wednesdays & Fridays for the first 4 weeks.

The second meatless day will be observed according to the rules of the Government (i.e. according to the days on which the Government prohibits meat to be sold in different places.)

There will be some kind of plain pudding every day.

The regulation as to no pastry being used must be in abeyance (because it has been found necessary sometimes to use pastry to make the meat allowance sufficient).

At breakfast and tea whatever can be most easily obtained should be provided, such as porridge, marmalade, jam, margarine, etc.

On Ash Wednesday there should be dry bread for breakfast & tea as usual, the rest of the food as on meatless days.”

The mitigation of the usual Lenten Rule has been sanctioned by the Bishop, whom the Warden consulted on the subject.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

A new price for butter

Newbury implemented price controls to stop retailers cashing in on shortages.

January 1st 1918

Home Defence Corps

A letter was read from Second Lieutenant F A Greet asking for the support of the Council to an effort to increase the number of the Newbury Corps so that it might be continued as a separate unit instead of being merged in the Reading Corps.

Food Control Committee

The report of the meetings of the Food Control Committee was referred to from the chair. The Mayor also mentioned that the steps taken by the Committee with respect to the distribution of margarine.

Report of the Local Food Control Committee (appended)

Meetings of this committee have been held on the 29th October, the 5tyh, 12th, 19th and 26th November, and the 3rd, 10th and 19th December.

In October last the Committee fixed the price of English Farmhouse Butter at 2s 4d per lb. subsequently at the meeting on the 19th December, the Committee having fixed a rate for Blended and Imported Irish Butter at 2s 6d per lb, the Committee decided to raise the price of English Farmhouse Butter to 2s 5d per lb….

Potato Licenses.

The Committee have granted licenses to various applicants as wholesalers and retailers. By agreement with the Butchers, the maximum retail prices have been fixed for the sale of Meat within the Area.

It having become necessary to appoint an Officer whose special duty it would be to see that the Orders of the Food Controller were carried into effect, the Committee appointed Mr G W Stillman as Enforcement Officer at a salary of 30s per week….

Complaints having been received as to the sale of Matches and Bread in contravention of the Orders dealing with these articles, prosecutions were ordered by the Committee, and the cases were subsequently dealt with before the Justices.

Newbury Borough minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

Hope for a people braver and stronger and more God-fearing for the long years of sacrifice and sorrow

A special Christmas letter from Mrs Willink offered kindly advice to the members of Burghfield Mothers’ Union.

Hillfields, Xmas 1917

Dear [blank]

In these days when the shadow of war and suffering and death seems constantly with us, the good wishes for a joyful Christmas seem almost out of place. But I feel I must send a little message of affection and friendship to my dear members of the Mothers’ Union.
I say to you all be of good courage, and may God give you that inward happiness and serenity which surely comes to those who live near him. May He fill our hearts with light and peace, so that if sorrow or loss or accident come to us we may bear them unshaken and accept them as if they were straws on the tide of life.

Bless our absent ones, keep them in life, keep them in growing honour; and, for us, grant that we may be worthy of their love. We civilians at home for whom there are no supreme moments of daring and sacrifice can yet constantly keep our courage at a high level. It has been said that victory is ultimately won, not by the troops in action, but by the spirit of the nation behind them.

We who stay at home have the duty of preserving, for those who are fighting, that heritage for which they are laying down their lives.
Dear wives and mothers, let it be your work to keep your homes sweet and clean, so that when the men and the lads come back, they may find that best happiness, a home of love and welcome ready for them. This can only be done by some self-sacrifice now; food is short, and it will grow shorter, and it is only by strict economy and thought and trouble that the food difficulty can be met, try and buy as many substitutes as you can for bread, meat and sugar, and take pains in cooking them, and you will be helping the War. You are such clever housewives that I am sure you will be able to do so.

I should also like to say especially to the Mothers’ Union members, that they should at this time do all in their power to help and influence others outside the Union, by little acts of kindness and sympathy, and by such example as can shew those others what our Union stands for, and try and persuade them to think seriously as to what it means, and perhaps in time to join it.

“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength,” and may the Christmas message of glad tidings give us that strength to work – and be patient, and kind, and helpful, and self-forgetful in the New Year that is coming, and then we may hope that the blessing of peace will return, and find a people braver and stronger and more God-fearing for the long years of sacrifice and sorrow.

Believe me always

Your true friend
Mary G Willink

Special Christmas letter inserted in and probably distributed with the January 1918 parish magazine, Burghfield (D/EX725/4)

Shot at dawn for “cowardice” caused by shell shock

John Maxwell Image wrote to his friend W F Smith, who was staying at Hindhead in south west Surrey, not far from the big army camp at Aldershot. Normally very gung-ho in support of the war, Image’s compassion had been aroused by stories of court martials and teenagers shot at dawn. The Revd Thomas Pym (1885-1945), in peacetime the chaplain at Image’s college, was serving as an army chaplain.

29 Barton Rd
6 Dec. ‘17
My very dear old man

The military cars to and fro Aldershot must surely be more or less an interesting sight.

The poor Tommy comes under this [?not clear] penalty quite frequently. Not often from cowardice, poor boy. Most often (I believe) it is from slinking off to some girl in the rear which is called “desertion”, tho’ he would have returned right enough.

Just before I was married there was shown to me a letter from a young Trin. Officer at the Front, describing a visit from one of our Trin. Chaplains, begging this young friend of his to “pray for him”, for he had to pass the night with a boy of 18 who was to be shot at dawn. Pym spoke then of a night with another poor child (of 17!) who had been shot the previous week, for what the CM was pleased to style Cowardice – though he had twice behaved with exceptional bravery, and it was only after seeing his two brothers killed at his side that on this occasion his nerve broke down. In an officer it would have been called “shell-shock”, and the interesting sufferer sent home to a cushy job in England. I know of 2 thus treated. Pym’s words brought the tears to my eyes. I see that he has told the story (slightly altered) in a book that has recently come out by him, Characteristics of the Army in Flanders.

Sir Arthur Yapp at the Guildhall last Friday. The Signora went (non ego) and returned enthusiastic – she and her Cook – over the great man’s dignity and sweetness. That evening he lectured the students (and I believe also them of Girton) in Newnham College – and left by the 9.9 for London.

One remark of his: “The vessels sunk by the U-boats during the week ending Nov. 24 (I forget how many that was) might have carried enough bread to feed Cambridge for nearly 7 years, or enough meat for 8 ½ years, or enough sugar for 64 years.”

He said that Food Tickets have changed Germany to a nation of forgers. He dreaded the like fate for England.

Yours ever
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Our fourth war-time Christmas: a joy none can take from us

Food shortages, and the use of adulterated products, had one unexpected casualty – the quality of communion bread. The vicar of Cookham Dean reflected on the fourth Christmas of the war.

The Vicar’s Letter

Since the war began I have found increasing difficulty to obtain bread suitable for use at the Holy Communion. For years I have had a special loaf sent every week from Edinburgh, but it is impossible to depend now upon its quality, and some of the ingredients with which bread is at present made are quite unsuitable for the holy purpose for which it is used. For a long time past I have used, both for sick people and on Saints’ Days, wafer bread, made as the Prayer Book directs, ‘of the best and purest wheaten flour’: Its use secures reverence, and its quality never varies, so that from Advent Sunday onward I intend to use it on Sundays also: I am obtaining it for the present from the same place that supplies the Bishop with that used by him in the Palace Chapel at Cuddesdon.


The Vicar’s Letter

This will be our fourth war-time Christmas. As each year goes on one realises how less like Christmases of former days each succeeding one becomes; and yet, beneath all the changes and turmoil of war, there must ever be the gladdening in our hearts at the thought of the Redemption of the World by our Lord Jesus Christ. We must be ready to offer our worship at the Manger Throne, and find the same comfort and the same grace as ever before at the Altar Throne if our hearts have been duly prepared in Advent by penitence and faith to seek Him, and receive Him there.

Some of the dear lads from the village will spend their Christmas very near to Bethlehem: What an un-looked-for experience for them! May they, and we, and all our dear ones, far and near, bound together in love for Him who was born at Bethlehem – ‘born for us’- find in His Presence a joy none can take from us, and thus realise in a very true way a happy Christmas.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

War bread makes us itch

The poor quality bread issued in wartime sounds as though it may have caused allergic reactions in some people.

29th November 1917

F.B. went back to-night enroute to Italy he expects.

I went to bed at ½ past 9.

This war bread or something has given all of us a most irritating sensation like the itch.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Russian news horrible

It was bad news at home (with additional voluntary food restrictions) and abroad, with more news of the revolution in Russia.

12 November 1917

More food vol: rations [into?] bread rather more, meat less, cereals and fats. Butter to all limited.

Russian news horrible. Petrograd in hands of rebels & Lenin!!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)