Chapter 23: Christmas parcels

A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British ...

A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British housewife’s ration book for the tea, sugar, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week. Most foods in Britain are rationed and some brand names are given the designation “National” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The winter of 1945 saw little change on the home front from that of the war.  The exception being that the servicemen were coming home at an ever increasing speed and the lights were on again.  However, most of the food that had been rationed during the war was still rationed.

In fact some rationing became even stricter.  This was partly due to the fact that the Labour government were pre-occupied with political reforms that left little money to assist increased production of anything, including food.  Strikes, particularly by the dockers, did not help matters.

Some rationing went on until 1954. At Movietonews, a week or so before Christmas 1945, we received something of a shock.  Our Shipping Agents Cattermole’s, arrived with a vanload of parcels.  They were off-loaded inside the building where it was seen that each one bore the name of an individual Movietone employee. It could be seen that they had been sent to us by the staff of Australian Movietonews in Sydney. When we opened the package, we could see that each parcel had been sent by a different member of the staff. My donor was Mark MacDonald.

The parcels contents were wonderful.  It was like opening a miniature Aladdin’s Cave.  There were cans of exotic fruits, like pineapple, peaches and mandarins.  There were cans of processed meat.  All these things had been either rationed or were unobtainable for six years.   Then there were bars of scented soap which had also been rationed, except that our soap had not been scented.  There were chocolates and toffees.  What a package, what a surprise. There was more to come.

A few days later, Cattermole’s drove up in their van once more, unloading another batch of parcels. This time, they had come from Fox-Movietone in New York.  There was a similar content of the parcels. Unfortunately, there was no name of an individual that we could write to to thank for their generosity as we had been able to do with the Australians.

I have never forgotten these gestures by our colleagues which showed the spirit of comradeship between those who worked for the world-wide organisation known as Movietone.

Next: Chapter 24: On the breadline: The introduction of bread rationing in July 1946.

© Terence Gallacher 2015.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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