Sunday, November 1, 2009


Wartime deprivation was a major issue during World War II. For Americans emerging from the Depression assisted by the abundant accidental resources of oil, coal, iron, and other metals, the shortages and deprivations that came about from the war were a shock.

American citizens were first denied rubber. The Japanese seizure of Southeast Asia resulted in no more raw rubber imports. The purchase of tires was prohibited or restricted. Mainly to save tires, gasoline was rationed as of December 1, 1942. An ordinary person could only buy four gallons of gas per week, which was later reduced to three. To save gasoline, the "Victory Speed" was set in place, which created a 35 mile-per-hour national speed limit.

Cars themselves became scarce. Anything made of metal was strictly forbidden. This meant that not only no new cars were being created, but also no bicycles, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, stoves or household appliances, typewriters, and even alarm clocks. The consumer was reminded that even "tin" cans were needed for the bayonets and ammunition for the troops.
Shoes were rationed as of February, 1943 and men's clothing manufactures were forbidden to supply cuffs on trousers or vests with suits. Paper was also in short supply. Tissues and toilet paper were hard to find. Newspapers and magazines looked like they were being published on paper towels.

Food rationing began a month after Pearl Harbor.
Foods such as sugar, chewing gum, preserves, and candy
became scarce at first because troops needed the sugar for
energy. Coffee was rationed in November 1942. Soon after,
butter, cheese, canned goods, and meat required coupons.
By the end of the war, almost all foods were rationed except
fruits and vegetables.

All of the commodities that were scare in the United States were even scarcer in the United Kingdom. In Britain, a man was allowed to buy a new suit every two years and a new shirt every 20 months. Food was especially must harder to come by than in America. Almost all of the food had to be brought in by ship, and most of the ships were sunk by submarines. Rationing began in 1940 and didn't end until nine years after the war, in 1954.
Being deprived of common conveniences was bad enough, but some things were even worse: not having your son or husband, your sister or wife, father or mother or friend close to you and often not hearing any news of them. Americans did not mind giving up these items for the soldiers at war because they felt they were doing their duty for the people risking their lives at war.

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