A 1943 British Ministry of Information newsreel trailer encouraging people to use a handkerchief to stop the spread of diseases. IWM NPB 13328.
Between March 1942 and November 1946, more than 200 Ministry of Food short ‘Food Flash’ films were shown in British cinemas, each one with an estimated audience of 20 million. This one, from May 1943, emphasises the importance of not wasting food during wartime.
In 1939 over 60% of Britain’s food was imported, much of it from Canada and the USA, and once war was declared it became vital to increase domestic food production. Britain’s merchant ships – which were needed to transport vital war materials, weapons, munitions and troops – were constantly at risk of attack by German U-boats. Potatoes were relatively easy for people to grow themselves, and took up less space than wheat to grow commercially, so the public were encouraged to ‘Go easy with bread – eat potatoes instead’. The Ministry of Food’s Food Flashes series included a good few short films on this theme, including this one that is pure 1940s bossiness and brisk common sense!
Don’t forget, you can find out more about digging for victory at the forthcoming series of events: In the Company of Cooks. On 12 June Sophie Grigson and Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall will show you how to make the most of your own produce in an exclusive talk at Imperial War Museum London. Get your tickets now!
A Ministry of Food ‘Food Flash’ on potatoes. An energy-rich food, potatoes were easy to grow in the British climate, cheap to buy and provided valuable vitamin C in the absence of summer fruit. Here’s spud in your eye!