THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Hundreds of ration books ‘unlawfully’ obtained claims Belfast food control office

From the News Letter, January 11, 1940

Some one hundred ration books which had been unlawfully obtained by householders in Belfast had been recovered by the Food Control Office, the News Letter reported on this day in 1940.

The News Letter noted: “There is reason to suspect, however, that people are still holding books which they obtained either by fraud or mistake, and that in some cases the holders have actually registered with more than one retailer.”

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Mr J A Kennedy, ACRA Superintendant of the Belfast Food Office had told a News Letter reporter that the committee would take a “serious view” of the offence.

Castle Place, Belfast. Photograph by Robert French from the Lawrence Photograph Collection held by the National Library of Ireland ( NLI Ref: L_CAB_04198. Picture: National Library of Ireland/Flickr Commons

Mr Kennedy said: “Since I issued my warning last week asking people to return extra books that they may have obtained, rationing has come into force, and, naturally, that changes the situation. We are now looking for such books, and we may find that some people have been using the extra books. In that event, the committee will not be inclined to deal lightly with offenders.”

Mr Kennedy also said that some grocers were refusing to serve customers with rationed foodstuffs unless whole quantities for a family for the week were ordered. That, he said, was wrong.

He remarked: “Grocers are obliged to serve each individual customer with his own ration and cannot insist on that customer taking the ration for the whole family at one time.”

Meanwhile, the special allowance for seaman on weekly articles had been announced the previous day reported the News Letter.

These men included crews of colliers, coasting vessels and cross Channel boats whose duties entailed extra watches and more arduous work than in peacetime.

They included bacon, cooked or uncooked, 6 ounces (free of bone), butter, 12 ounces and sugar, 24 ounces.