SIR – Having read all about the coronavirus on the papers recently, it brought back my childhood memories of life in Ireland during World War 2. We had a village shop where we were very aware of food rationing and the associated coupon book.
Each house was allotted a ration of food, such as tea and sugar; customers’ names and their allotted amounts were recorded in the coupon book. Even our own house had these foods rationed.
There was no fruit as all shipping was stopped and I remember (not nice) sweets from Holland, Irel coffee in a jar, grey flour for baking, jam in a tin and getting an orange and an apple for Christmas.
There was no petrol so all cars were taken off the road and my father’s lovely new petrol blue car (Anglia) was put in the garage up on blocks. We then had to revert to cycling, learn to mend a puncture as bicycle tyres and tubes were also rationed.
Rabbits were big business and kept many families alive during the war. You could see teenagers out by night dazzling rabbits with powerful lights that would frighten us, but it made financial sense – three shillings and six pence for a rabbit. My father had an agency to supply rabbits to Whittaker’s in Cork, which were collected by truck for export to England.
These rabbits were an important food source for the people in England during the war. We used to have rabbit stew regularly until myxomatosis disease killed a lot of the rabbits.
In today’s world, we should be so grateful that we have modern homes, no interruption of food and other supplies, cars on the road, peace in our country, fantastic community spirit, television and modern day communications, while living in beautiful West Cork. During WW2, we knew our enemy, our frontline were soldiers and there was little we could do to help. Today is different.
Our enemy is invisible, we are struggling to identify it, fight it or keep it bay. But we can do a lot to keep our frontline people safe and help them fight this virus. Today, our heroes are our medical and healthcare professionals and they need our support.
All we need to do is stay at home to stop the spread of this virus and hopefully we can all come through this strange time to a much better future.