During the Great War rationing was introduced for the civilians of Britain. This was not usually an issue for the armed forces as their food was supplied by the military so they had no need for ration books when with their units. If they returned home on leave, however, they would need some way of purchasing rationed food and special ration books were issued to allow them to buy food. These were small books with enough coupons for a few weeks and had yellow card covers. The front cover had space for the soldier’s details and how long he would need the book for:
This book was issued to a Lance Corporal Hewitt of the 53rd Royal Sussex Regiment who was coming back to the UK from occupation duty in Germany in 1919. The back of the book has details for the retailer:
The printing information shows that it was printed in February 1919 and was part of a batch of 500,000. The instructions to the soldier on how to use the ration book are printed on the reverse of the front cover:
The coupons themselves are printed on special paper designed to reduce the chance of someone forging the coupons:
Rationing continued in the UK until 1920 when some of the final items such as butter were finally taken off the ration. Rationing would of course return in the Second World War on a far bigger scale. This book though seems to have never been used, despite having been issued, as none of the coupons have been removed.