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Coleshill and District U3A

“Never mind Hitler . . . we’ve got loaves to bake, lass!”

On 16th July, Glynis Gayton recalled 1940 for us from the jottings in her father-in-law, William’s, diary. In 1921 William and his brother Thomas had founded Gayton’s Bakery, located in Maypole Lane, Grendon to serve the local communities of Baddesley and Grendon. William, a keen diarist, recorded his observations on daily life and the looming war in Europe.

His words reminded us of a time long past. Then we had outside toilets, no central heating, no television and no National Health Service. The diary blended humour, everyday practicalities and the spectre of an unstoppable war machine moving relentlessly towards Britain. However, the Nazis were not the Gayton’s first concern. They had customers who depended upon them, customers who they must serve, even when the snow was thigh deep and their van was in ill humour. As the year rolled on the enemy’s presence grew: the Luftwaffe was determined to bomb Britain into submission.

In January 1940 butter, sugar, bacon and ham were rationed. In July 1940 tea was added to the list. William, ever resourceful, traded in livestock, vegetables and fruit to slacken the tight belt of rationing.

Facts at a glance:

  • Rationing in Britain began in September 1939 when petrol was rationed. It did not cease until 4 July 1954.
  • Bacon, ham, meat, sugar, tea, cheese, preserves, butter, margarine, lard and sweets were subject to rationing. Allowances varied during the war.
  • On 7 September 1940 the Germans began bombing London. During the war they also bombed Hull, Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Southampton, Swansea, Birmingham, Belfast, Coventry, Glasgow, Manchester and Sheffield
  • The National Health Service came into operation on 5 July 1948.

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