By Estefanía Román and Verónica Ruiz

What type of food did the evacuees eat? Were there any food restrictions?

1. Feeding children during the journey: Sandwiches, tin food and bags of food

Lots of evacuees don’t have a memory of a specific type of food. However, they have special memories about the food they had during their journey from their houses to their new destinations. Here we can find some of the food they eat during their trip.

All parents received an announcement that informed that all adults and children should carry sufficient food for the day of the evacuation. The suggestions for the children's food were:

- Sandwiches (egg or cheese)
- Packets of nuts and seedless raisins.
- Dry biscuits (with little packets of cheese)
- Barley sugar (rather than chocolate)
- Apple – Orange

Very few children had the luck of getting a bag of food, but those who had this luck could find different foods like: a tin of corned beef, some very and hard biscuits, sugar, tea and some powered milk. Other food bags could include a tin of corned beef, a tin of milk, a packet of nuts and raisins or a packed of a cornflakes.
The vast majority of the evacuees had corned beef sandwiches, lettuce sandwiches or a tin of corned beef for their journey, although some of them only had sweets for their trip.
Some parents sent a parcel which was to given to the people who were going to take them in, in case they didn't have a supply of food in for them. So, they were supposed to keep them for emergencies but every child ate their chocolate.

2. Food restrictions

The majority of the children who were evacuated had luck because they didn’t have any special restrictions. Some of them lived in farms. This means that they could collect some vegetables or nuts for preparing dishes with them. In other cases, the families had a shop and they could have food all day.
It is true that sometimes the families didn’t have enough meat, but not because of their fault. This happened because the butcher didn’t go to the village every day. Normally, he arrived every week, so families had to buy meat for some days and meat didn’t last until the butcher came again.

3. Food experiences during their evacuation

The vast majority of the evacuees had luck with food because most of the families had their own farm or shop, so food was not a real problem. But is true that some children had bad experiences with food in that period of their life. Here are some of these experiences.
Good experiences
There are people with good memories. For example, Marjorie Walker said that the foot was marvellous compared with what they got at home. But she felt guilty because her mother was probably having just the food they always had at home.

Margaret Gardiner has good memories of celebrating her fourth birthday on board ship. The cook made a sumptuous party for her and everyone came. She had all sorts of food she'd never had before like ginger-beer, popcorn or a cake with wonderful sugar nursery rhyme figures on them.

Two girls thought that they used gave her food that they never tasted before. For instance, June Tillet tried “Mincemeat balls”


Pat Taylor said that she had never tasted sweed with rabbits stew before living in Kent, but in that time they used to eat it because their host used to go off every day with a shotgun to catch rabbits, so she ate it almost every day except for Mondays because on that day they ate bread with cheese and pickles.

Newfoundland-Recipes-Rabbit-Stew2-www.saltjunk.com_.jpg Rabbit stew.

Sheila Shear was Jewish and she lived with Mr Mayo and he was a Christian. Despite their different religions, they celebrated each other's traditions. At Passover they ate Matzo Soup and at Christmas they ate Mince Pies.

Bad experiences
Tom Fawcett had no good experiences with food because he was and he is a bad eater. For instance, he didn't like many things like butter or margarine on his bread. His new family was desperate to get to him eat, so they gave him lettuce sándwiches. But Tom gave it to the family dog.

Barbara Birchall had a negative experience in her evacuee period because her foster family didn’t give her the food that she needed. The family only gave her crusts of brea, and when a visit or inspector appeared, the family seemed to be very good, althout the reality was quite different.
Josie Moir explains that she always had to eat outside the house, so she used to eat sandwiches and sometimes she ate broad beans with a sprinkling of gravy. But they were cold and wet, so she didn´t like them at all.

broad beans.JPG

Joan Morgan tells this anecdote: one day there was tripe and onions to eat but she couldn't eat it because it made her feel ill. So, when she came back from school the tripe and onions were dished up again for her at teatime. She was made to eat it, but as soon as she had a mouthful, she was vomiting it up again. Joan had a really bad time that day.

Dymphma Porter said that for five years her lunch consisted of a threepenny Cornish pasty which the local baker used to bring around on a tray. Some days these pasties were horrible because it had gristly fatty meat, but other days the baker used corned beef and it was better.


Margaret Phair explains that on Boxing day the children were served a spicy turkey soup, but she disliked it.

Experiences from other points of view

War restrictions affected pregnant women. Joyce Milan was one of them. While she was evacuated with her maternity hospital, the pregnant women took turns to collect the early morning cocoa. It was only available at 5 o'clock in the morning and if they were on time they were rewarded with a jug of lukewarm cocoa.Their breakfast was “gruel” (a kind of porridge) and one slice of toast with margarine. Joyce's husband tried to visit her, and he brought eggs for Joyce but this was not allowed in the hospital because all the women were supposed to be treated equally with no extras for anyone. Despite this rule, some husbands sent them parcels with food, for instance, dry biscuits, fruits…


The book tells the story of a young couple that took in two girls. They were a young couple dog about thirty years of age, childless and living in a small cottage, but with very little money. The man speaks about how difficult it was for his wife to provide meals with the limited restrictions, but they seemed to survive.

4. Food during the evacuation

Here, we'll show the different types of food, dishes, desserts or sweets that the children could taste in their destinations. Some food was healthier than other.
Food and dishes
The children tasted many different types of food. They had special interest in those dishes which had a good taste. This is what they used to eat:

- Buns. It is a small, sometimes sweet, bread, or bread roll. Though they come ibuns.jpgn many shapes and sizes, they are most commonly hand-sized or smaller, with a round top and flat bottom. Buns are usually made from flour, sugar, milk, yeast and butter. Common varieties contain small fruit or nuts, topped with icing or caramel, or filled with jam or cream. Some types of buns are filled with various meats.

- Boiled chestnuts. A way of cooking the chestnuts that makes them softer.

broad beans.JPG
- Broad beans with sprinkling of gravy: large flat beans with pale green skin with a sauce made from the juices of cooked meat mixed with flour.

- Cawl. It is a Welsh dish. Historically, the ingredients tended to vary, but the most common recipes included salted bacon or beef with potatoes, swedes, carrots and other seasonal vegetables. Modern variations of the meal tend to use lamb and leek.

- Clotted cream. It is a thick cream made by indirectly heating full-cream cow's milk using steam or a water bath and then leaving it in shallow pans to cool slowly.

Corned Beef (2).jpg

-Corned beef. It is a salt-cured beef product. The term comes from the treatment of the meat with large grained rock salt also called "corns" of salt.

crust of bread.jpg

- Crusts of bread. The brown, hard outer portion or surface of a loaf or slice of bread.

- Eggs and chips. It is a popular working - class dish in the United Kingdom consisting simply of chips served with fried eggs.

- Goose. Typical Christmas food which is normally made in the oven. Other ingredients are species, lemon or lime.

- Gristle. Tough cartilaginous, tendinous, or fibrous matter especially in table meats.

- Gruel (a kind of porridge): A thin cooked cereal made by boling meal, for example oatmeal, in water or milk. gruel.jpg
- Homemade jam. It is produced by taking mashed or chopped fruit or vegetable pulp and boiling it with sugar and water.

- Hot dogs. It is a cooked sausage traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a sliced bun. Typical hot dog garnishes include mustard, ketchutp, onions, mayonnaise, relish cheese, chili and sauerkraut.

matzo soup.jpg
- Matzo Soup: An Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumpling made from a mixture of matzah meal, eggs, water, and a fat, such as oil, margarine, or chicken fat.Its a staple food on Passover.

fried-pork-or-mince-meat-balls.jpg- Mincemeat balls: meat that has been chopped in very fine pieces with the form of a ball.

- Pasty: a small pie .

- Pickles: A vegetable, esp. a cucumber, that has been preserved and flavored in brine or vinegar.


- Rabbits stew:Slow-cooked dish of rabbit meat.

spicy turkey soup.jpg

- Spicy turkey soup: A kind of soup cooked with turkey. It´s a tipical plate on Boxing day (26th december).

Spud and sausage.jpg

- Spuds and sausages. This is a main dish and it is made with sausages and potatoes boiled in a sauce pan. It’s an Italian dish and it could be made with other ingredients like onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes… among other ingredients.

Dukan-tomato-soup.jpg- Steaming cups of tomato soap. It is a soup made with tomatoes as the primary ingredient. It may be served hot or cold in a bowl, and may be made in a variety of ways.


- Stodgy food. It’s a heavy and unhealthy food, sometimes in an unpleasant way.

suet puding.jpg

- Suet pudding. It is a boiled, steamed or microwaved pudding made with suet (beef or mutton fat), flour, bread crumbs, raisins, and spices.


- Swede: A plant cultivated for its bulbous edible root, which is used as a vegetable and as cattle fodder.

tripe and onions.jpg

- Tripe and onions:The stomach of a cow or a sheep eaten as food with onions.


Children also mention some desserts they tasted in those days:
- Apple Dumplings. This is a dessert and it is made with a pastry filled with apple, cinnamon and occasionally raisins. Apples are peeled and cored, placed on a portion of dough, then filled with cinnamon, butter and sugar. Then the dough is folded over the apples and the dumplings are baked until tender.

- Blacnmange. It is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss (a source of carrageenan), and often flavored with almonds.

cake with sugar nursery rhyme.jpg

- Cake with sugar nursery rhyme. This cake is decorated with layer of sweet fondant. Cakes have figures which are made with this type of fondant. Some of them could be quite spectacular.

mince pie.jpg

- Mince pie: It is a fruit-based mincemeat sweet pie of British origin that is traditionally served during the Christmas season in the English-speaking world.


Children remember with special interest the sweet they have tested so, here there are a selection of them.
Boiled Sweets.jpg

- Boiled sweet. It is a sugar Candy prepared from one or more sugar-based syrupsthat is boiled to a temperature of 160 °C (320 °F) to make Candy. Recipes for hard candy may use syrups of sucrose glucose, fructose or other sugars. Sugar-free versions have also been created.

Barley sugar.jpg

- Barley sugar. It is a traditional variety of boiled sweet (hard candy), often yellow or orange in colour with sometimes an extract of barley added as flavouring. It is similar to hard caramel candy in its texture and taste.


- Maltessers: A roughly spherical malt honeycomb-like structured centre, surrounded by milk chocolate.

slab of toffee. jpg.jpg

- Slab of toffee. The toffee slabs were so hard that a hammer was necessary to break them into pieces. Some ingredients are sugar, unsalted butter, salt, vanilla extract among other. It’s boiled.

- Pop corn. It is a type of corn that expands from the kernel and puffs up when heated.


Drinks are barely mentioned, but still there are some in the book:

cocoa.jpg- Cocoa: Chocolate powder.

Ginger beer.jpg

- Ginger beer. It is a carbonated, sweetened beverage produced in two versions: alcoholic brewed ginger beer (which includes home-brewed) or a carbonated soft drink flavored primarily with gingerand sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Ginger beer can be produced at home using a symbiotic colony of yeast and a Lactobacillus (bacteria) known as a "ginger beer plant".

Jugo-de-Ananá.jpg- Urn of pineapple juice. Jar with pineapple juice.


Some children tell us that their new family or their parents used tinned food for feeding them during the war. Here we mention some:
- Dried eggs American. Dried egg powder was the government's response to a wartime shortage of fresh eggs. Dried egg powder became available in 1942 (fresh eggs were rationed in June 1942) and it was used to supplement the egg allowance while rationing was in place. Dried egg powder came from America. A tin of it contained the equivalent of a dozen eggs and was “extra to your regular egg ration”. Among others uses, dried eggs could be used to make scrambled eggs or in a cake mixture.
Tinned pilchards.jpg

- Tins of pilchards. Small and oily fish. It is also known as sardines.


- Spam. Spam's basic ingredients are pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, wáter, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar and sodium nitrite as a preservative.

Some of the children who mention food are:

Howard Baker
Stanley Miller
Beryl Batten
Josie Moir
June Biggs
Joan Morgan
Barbara Birchall
Alan Morgan
Lilian Burnett
Yvonne Nicholls
Joan Clarkson
Joan Pearce
Harry Cole
Margaret Phair
Ivy Ellis
Joy Plant
Pat Fawcett
Dymphna Porter
Tony Fawcett
Iris Sharp
Margaret Gardiner
Sheila Shear
Dave Gelly
Eric Smidmore
Alan Grant
Millie Squibb
Valerie Hedges
Pat Taylor
Doreen Henry
June Tillet
Bill Herring
Anita Truman
Heather Hodge
Marjorie Walker
Ruby Maw
Eileen Woods
Joice Milan
Deirdre Wynne-Harley