No 9a Soldier’s Ration Book

Last year we looked at a 1919 dated soldier’s ration book to allow him to get rationed food whilst on leave. This ration book, with a yellow cover, was not the first iteration of this document and today we are looking at an earlier version of the same type of ration book. In this case it has a grey cover:

This version of the book is earlier in date to the other example, having a date of July 1918 on the cover. It was issued to a Private Ward of the 6th Middlesex Regiment who was on leave between the 27th July and the 1st August 1918 to go to Sheringham, travelling from Chatham:

The inside cover of the ration book gives instructions on how to use the book:

Inside the book has clearly been used as many of the coupons have been cut out:

It is interesting to note the elaborate printing inside the book, clearly designed to make it more difficult to forge the coupons. We tend to think of black market dealings as being a Second World War phenomenon, but clearly it was considered a risk in the First World War as well. There are further instructions in the back cover, this time useful information for the soldier himself with details of what to do if he falls ill:

Rationing had become part and parcel of life for those on the Home Front in World War One, ironically the soldier in the front line had a better diet than those back home. It was recognised as being vitally important, however, to ration food and be cautious to reduce waste. the “Win the War Cookery Book” explained:

The struggle is not only on land and sea; it is in your larder, your kitchen and your dining room. Every meal you serve is now literally a battle. Every well cooked meal that saves bread and wastes no food is a victory. Our soldiers are beating the Germans on land. Our sailors are beating the Germans on the sea. You can beat them in the larder and the kitchen.

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