No local Tea rationing necessary

Newbury set parameters for the use of potatoes in making bread.

21st June 1918

The Committee considered a recommendation from the Rural District Council with reference to the rationing of Tea, and considered that no local Tea rationing was necessary.

A complaint with regard to the sale of sugar to a retailer was to be referred to the Sugar Commission.

An application for the re-opening of the Bread Business carried on by the late Mr Keep was approved.

The Committee decided that the quantity of potatoes to be used in the manufacture of bread should be 15 lbs, to 280 lbs of flour until the 30th of October next, and 20 lbs to 280 lbs of flour after that date.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Sub-committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

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Not much to grumble at

The Governor of Reading Prison was defensive about complaints about the food put forward by one of the Irish internees.

Place of Internment
Reading
29 May 1918

W L Cole

1. The Commissioners’ instructions are – no letters in or out – no visits.

2. When formerly here, the Home Office allowed parcels of food &c. Now food is controlled & parcels mean letters to acknowledge.

3. By Commissioners’ orders these men were on Local Prison diet. This does not carry tea or coffee. Further as tea is rationed in Reading, 1 ½ oz per head per week, they could not buy it without coupons, and they cannot write [for it]. Now the diet has been altered – as for the remainder of the interned aliens – they can have tea for breakfast or coffee.

4. They receive 3 ½ oz a head a week, the same as other interned men – Reading maximum ration is 4 oz per week. They receive 14 oz of bread daily, the same as other men. Cereals are limited to 117 oz a head a week.

5. They receive potatoes daily and on most days of the week a second vegetable – leeks – or something else as well – where procurable.

I will give their food today – not much to grumble at. They can supplement that by purchasing non controlled articles.

Breakfast – 6 oz bread, 1 pint porridge, ¼ oz margarine, 1 pint coffee.

Dinner – 2 oz bread, 1 ½ oz salt pork, 4 oz haricot beans, 16 oz potatoes, 4 oz stewed rhubarb (fresh), 4 oz leeks (from garden).

Supper – 5 oz bread, 1 pint cocoa, ¼ oz margarine, 6 oz potatoes, 1 ½ oz salt pork (alternatively with cheese).

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

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)

“No man’s land so quiet & peaceful as Cookham Moor on a weekday night”

Sydney Spencer wasted some time and energy hunting for some missing soldiers who were not missing at all, before leading a night party to mend barbed wire defences.

Tuesday 30 April 1918

I arrived in at 12.45 am this morning after examining the ground all round where the shell struck for two men who were missing. I also went to aid post & dressing stations, & caught no sign of them. At 8 am I went over to the company and found them there!

Rained hard all day so parades distinctive [sic] were off. At 3 we had a conference. After tea called on [A?] company, at 8.30 went out to Essex front lines with Corporal Wise & 8 men, with a wiring party. Tomorrow night we go up the line, then I hope my education will be completed.

As usual the job of wiring we had tonight was as cushy as it could be! A fine although cloudy night. Little excitement. Not too dark. No man’s land so quiet & peaceful as Cookham Moor on a weekday night. Got back to our cellar at 2.30 am. The fire was out so tea was off but had some biscuits, cheese & chocolate.

Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EZ177/8/15)

“At last, Sir, I’ve got my blighty”

One of Sydney Spencer’s men was quite pleased to receive a mild wound – it meant going home to England.

Monday 29 April 1918

Got up early and had a cup of tea & smoke in the cook house. Washed & shaved etc before breakfast, being the only one up! At 9.5 I took usual parade with my platoon. I also inspected No 7 platoon. At 12.30 shrapnel came over & a man in No. 8 platoon got a small wound in the back.

2.45 pm. Just going for a hot bath at the brewery. This did not come off as the rations came & I had to wait & send a note down to Sergeant Green. Had a letter from OB, & one from Cubitt.

After tea went over & had a chat with my men. Made a map of our position.

After dinner, Hervey & Peyton took out working party. My platoon got lost under an NCO who had not been out, and there were some casualties. Some arrived home & some went to dressing stations. I went down to them & saw the casualties. [Cheney?] was one of them and he beamed on me & said, “At last, Sir, I’ve got my blighty”.


Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EZ177/8/15)

The wounded soldiers are no longer able to get the cup of tea in the afternoon which they so much enjoyed

The Broad Street Chapel premises had been hosting soldiers since the start of the war. But shortages of food – and, worse, tea – were putting a dampener on things.

Our work amongst the soldiers has been somewhat interrupted by a new Army Regulation which precludes the provision of refreshments to soldiers, except between the hours of 6.30 and 9.0 pm. This means that the wounded soldiers are no longer able to get the cup of tea in the afternoon which they so much enjoyed. Nor can they be supplied with food of any kind. Coffee and cocoa may still be served; but these are not regarded as a satisfactory substitute for the “cup which cheers, etc”. Consequently we have very few men in the rooms which formerly were crowded.

We have to admit that the regulation is reasonable in view of the food shortage, and we can only hope that our wounded friends will soon get accustomed to the near [mistake for new?] conditions, and that we shall have them back again.

Men and women in khaki still crowd the rooms each evening, though they are now strictly rationed.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, March 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Internees will get the same rations as civilians

Reading Prison (Place of Internment) was issued with new orders for food rationing.

[To] The Governor

The present & proposed dietary for Reading are both based on the ration schemes issued by the Ministry of Food for the general population.

Prisons have therefore been compulsorily rationed since March last, while until quite recently the general public have been able to purchase not only rationed foods in practically unlimited quantities, but other foods to which prisoners have not access. Thus the meat allowance in the present dietary of 2 ½ lbs per head per week is in conformity with the Devonport scale and the proposed dietary 1 ¼ lbs in conformity with the rationing scheme already in operation in the London area & shortly to be applied to the country generally. The quantities of meat shown in the attached scale are uncooked.

As regards the butcher difficulties, he should supply to the P of I meat in proportion to the available supplies: that is, if he is obtaining half his usual supplies he should satisfy your demands up to 50%, or if 8 oz only is available then 8 oz per interned prisoner. When the rationing scheme is applied to the Reading Area on the 25th prox:, prisoners will receive the equivalent of 20 oz meat in common with the general population. As regards the other rationed foods, they are also strictly in accordance with the rationing scheme for the general population.

One result of this will be to reduce materially the canteen privileges. With reference to your remark that the tea ration in Reading is one oz per week, it is assumed that this applies to all members of a family, and that therefore the adult ration is in practice more than one oz. Unless you have any further observations to offer, please proceed as in Min: 1 & submit the dietary as you propose to issue it.

FNI 28.2.18

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

Meat and butter tickets

As rationing began to kick in, wounded soldiers visiting Bisham Abbey for a day out considerately brought their own refreshments.

25 February 1918

Soldiers came in afternoon,bringing their tea, sugar & margarine.

Meat & butter tickets in London & Home Counties.

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

Food control has been in force for many weeks in Reading – but at Henley or Windsor one can buy anything one wants

Workers at Reading Prison were annoyed that the internees got more food than they could get themselves under the new rationing regime.

23rd Feby 1918
Subject Interned Aliens diets

Before issuing instructions as to these diets I think it desirable to point out that they are considerably in excess of those allowed by the Local Food Controller for everyone in the Boro of Reading, and that the Wardens have strongly resented the great excess, especially of meat, which these Aliens and Undesirables have been given in the past over the amount they have been allowed to obtain for themselves and families foe the last four or six weeks. People outside have also expressed their opinion freely – for the present Diet Scale just received the meat ration is:

15 oz meat – presumably cooked
2 ½ oz preserved meat
½ oz bacon (uncooked) – we use pork (salt) in place of bacon

The ration allowed here to be purchased by Wardens and others, is 8 oz uncooked meat with bone per head per week, and this I am today informed is to continue for next three weeks – after that he cannot say. Children half this amount. Bacon – unobtainable.

Tea: ration allowed for the prisoners is 1 1/6 oz per week. Everyone else in Reading, 1 oz per week.

I do not know if the Prison is in the Boro or not, but believe not – at any rate it is the County Coroner who holds inquests and I was informed by Mr Friend who was chaplain here for over 40 years that the Prison was not in the Boro, also non-Parochial – this affected him sometimes, as regarded his preaching in various churches, which he could not otherwise have done – also no officers in quarters have municipal votes. My reason for raising this point is that the butcher states that if he supply excess meat to the Prison, and it is in the Boro, he renders himself liable to prosecution for breaking the local food laws. On the other hand if the Prison is not in the Boro, though he might be called to account for selling meat, he is not supplying it to anyone in the Boro.

Each District appears to make its own laws quite independent of any law issued by the Food Control as managed by Lord Rhondda – & Reading appears to be badly served. I believe the London Scheme begins Monday – here food control has been in force for many weeks. Again, at Henley or Windsor one can buy anything one wants. I think it proper for me to report all this to the Commissioners, who can then give me instructions. If of course the Prison is not in the Boro – it would, I suppose, as a Home Office institution be in the London District, and the Local Food Controls would not apply as regards the Prison receiving – but might and probably would as regards the contractors’ supplying, but it would clear the Prison from legal action.

C M Morgan
Gov
[To] The Commissioners

I would suggest that the Aliens receive the same rations of meat, tea and whatever may be rationed, as the remainder of Reading receives – if it increases this would increase up to the amount of the Rhondda fixed scale. If it decreases this would do so accordingly.

CMM

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)

“Stopping members flitting from branch to branch to obtain more than their share of supplies”

Co-ops in the Reading area instituted their own ratinong scheme.

Co-operative Notes
Co-operators and Food Rationing

To enable a more equitable distribution of foodstuffs which have become difficult to obtain owing to shortage, it has been decided to issue a Ration Card to members covering butter, margarine, lard, bacon, tea, jam, marmalade, and condensed milk. These cards can be obtained from branch managers, and members will select the branch from which they intend dealing, thus stopping members flitting from branch to branch to obtain more than their share of supplies.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 13, January 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/1)

“A communal store would have destroyed any idea among the workers that the rich could get supplied at the expense of the poor”

Union members in Reading were vigilant in the cause of rationing.

Reading and District Trade Union Branch News and Notes

General Workers’ Union

The way in which members are subscribing towards the children’s entertainment is extremely gratifying, showing that our members realise that they owe something to the youngsters whose fathers are away doing their duty.

The entertainment will be held in our hall towards the end of January…

At the District Council on December 15 … Bro. J R Clynes, MP, attended to answer an adverse and critical resolution which was on the agenda on the Food Control business. After his speech, which gave a good deal of information which his critics were not possessed of previously, the resolution was lost by a large majority.

No doubt he has a very difficult task to perform, but with our knowledge of his ability and steadfast work in the interest of the workers we do not doubt that his position has and will result in benefitting us all as consumers.

As a Union we are doing all we can locally to tackle the food question here. Bros Knight and Russell have had interviews with the District Food Commissioner and the Mayor, and also have attended a Conference with the Food Control Committee and representatives of the traders, and it is hoped that with the cooperation of the people of Reading there will soon be in operation a scheme which will ensure the equal distribution of available tea, butter, margarine, and lard. It is a pity the idea of a communal store was not accepted for this scheme. It would have been an interesting experiment, and would have destroyed any idea among the workers that the rich could get supplied at the expense of the poor. However, we must all co-operate, and not fail to report any case of departure from the regulations to the Food Control Secretary.


The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 13, January 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/1)

“The difficulty of the supply of meat”

The Community of St John Baptist decided to cut down on meat consumption during the war.

5 April 1917

Maundy Thursday.

Notice was sent to all the Houses that a second meatless day (ordinarily Tuesday) would be kept each week owing to the difficulty of the supply of meat in consequence of the war. Rogation & Ember Days & Vigils would be kept as usual, and in the weeks when these occurred they would take the place of the second meatless day.

Permission was given for afternoon cups of tea on Easter day, Low Sunday, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, Corpus Christi and St John Baptist Day.

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

Beer and bottled water to be in short supply

Sydney Spencer underwent training in gas exposure, while Florence Vansittart Neale was shocked by the amount of items to be restricted.

Sydney Spencer of Cookham
Feb 22

I go through chlorine gas for first time (in a P.H. helmet).

Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey
22 February 1917

Large contingent of nurses & MOs from Cliveden. Saw everything & had tea in hall. Came at 3, left 5.30….

Good speech by E. Carson on submarine menace – very serious, but hope it will get [illegible].

Importations of timber, apples, tomatoes, raw fruits, tea, restricted, meat, paper, wines, silks, only 10,000,000 barrels of beer – spirits also restricted, aerated water and table water.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

The finest, cosiest, and prettiest place in the whole Second Army Area

A Reading church sponsored a place of recreation for soldiers at the front.

“Words Fail Us.”

Such are the words used on a Christmas card by the Y.M.C.A. to convey their deep gratitude to all who have helped in the erection of Huts in France and elsewhere. The words may be even more fittingly used to emphasise the desperate need for these buildings, and we rejoice in having been privileged to take part in this good work. It will be remembered that soon after our pastor’s return from France in March of last year, he announced his wish to erect a Y.M.C.A. hut, and was met by so gratifying a response from his many friends in Trinity and elsewhere that, by the end of August it was being used by our fighting men on the Western “Front.” This month, by the help of the above-mentioned Christmas card, we are able to show our readers a picture of our own hut.

It is situated La Clytte, about 4.5 miles south-west of Ypres and within three miles of the front firing-line very, very near danger. It is by the side of a road, along which is passing a continual stream of men to and from the trenches. Near by is a rest camp, into which the men are drafted after having served a certain time actually in the line. Hence our Hut, capable of accommodating from two hundred to three hundred men, meets the very real need of a large number of men actually in “the thick of it.”

The picture represents its actual appearance from outside, which resembles many other Y.M. Huts, but the interior is most beautifully and artistically decorated with about 250 coloured pictures, with the result that Mr. Holmes (Sec. Y.M.C.A. 2nd Army) pronounces it to be the finest, cosiest, and prettiest place in the whole Second Army Area. For this proud distinction we must thank its present leader, Mr Cecil Dunford, who is an artist, and so in touch with colour-printing firms. To him, too, we are indebted to him for our picture. His helpers are the Rev. Eric Farrar, son of Dean Farrar a most interesting fact and the Rev. Herbert Brown, Chaplain to the Embassy at Madrid.

At Christmas-time, our thoughts flew naturally to the men in our Hut, and Mr Harrison, anticipating our wishes, telegraphed that a sum of £20 was to be spent on festivities. It will interest all to hear what was done.

On Christmas Eve a Carol service took place, assisted by a regimental band, followed by a distribution of free gifts and cake. On Christmas Day the Hut was crowded for service at 10 a.m., and 45 men present at Holy Communion. From 12-1 a free distribution of cakes and tea was enjoyed. An afternoon concert was held, after which the men were again supplied with tea and cakes. At 6.30 p.m. a very informal concert was held, interspersed with games and amusing competitions ducking for apples bobbing in a pail of water, drawing in to the mouth a piece of toffee tied to a long string held between the teeth, pinning blindfold a moustache to the Kaiser’s portrait, etc. Free drinks and tobacco were again distributed, and after three hearty cheers for the people of Reading, the National Anthem brought a memorable day to a close.

To the men this day was a bright spot in their cheerless, dangerous life, and their enjoyment is depicted by Mr Dunford in some clever sketches one of a man straight from the line, in a tin helmet and with pack on his back, beaming happily at a steaming mug of cocoa, and murmuring “Good ‘ealth to the Y.M.”; another man, whose swelled cheek testifies to the huge mouthful of sandwich (evidently “tres bon!” in quality and quantity), wittily designated “an attach in force on the salient.” To the helpers the Christmas festivities evidently proved exhausting as shown by two laughable sketches of utter collapse, one worker clinging feebly to a post, the other being dragged along the floor to a place of rest. Yet we venture to think that even they, with us, rejoice to do something to brighten the lot of our brave boys in khaki.


Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: magazine, February 1917 (D/EX1237/1)