In 1941, the people of Belfast were subject to food rationing. The food supply was limited and the aim was to share it equally among everyone and ensure everyone remained as healthy as possible and contribute to the war effort. To access rations, each family was given a book of coupons that were exchanged for food items. These items were contained in a ration book. If a family lost their ration book, this could mean they were unable to access food; this was a major problem following the raids on Belfast and new books had to be issued. (see below)

In the Northern Whig on 3 April in the Women and Home section Florence Irwin, ‘The Housewife’ set out some ideas for ‘Homely Foods “Dressed Up” for Attractive Meals’. She wrote ‘with a little imagination the most homely ingredients can be made into wholesome and attractive dishes. In these difficult days, it would be a matter of pride with every housewife to make the fullest use of those things that can be obtained easily and cheaply’. She advised making a nettle and artichoke soup, and for salad, using dandelion leaves.[1]

In 2005, Lilian Davis gave an interview where she described rationing: ‘It was dreadful! Thank god, it depended on where you were. If you were in England you felt the pinch very much. But you see, we were in Northern Ireland and whilst we were rationed in the same way they were rationed in England, milk wasn’t rationed in NI, and cream wasn’t rationed. You couldn’t always get it in the way that you were used to, but if you were lucky you could get it now and again, you see? But you got 4 oz [ounces, imperial measure] of tea [113 grams]…2oz [56 grams],  butter and ¼ lb margarine [4 ounces, 113 grams]. And …sugar was rationed.’[2]


Between 7th April and 6th May 1941, four aerial bombing raids on Belfast killed over 900 people, injured 1,500 and damaged about half of the city’s homes. Thousands were made homeless and over 100,000 residents fled to the country. This period in Belfast’s history has become known as the Belfast Blitz. To mark the 81st anniversary, key events each day over the Blitz period are being retold here on this website and also on Twitter (@drtomstours). .

[1] Northern Whig, 3 April 1941, p.3.

[2] Accessed 29.3.22.