July 21 [Bread Rationing]

Collection: London Screen Study Collection
ID No.: n/a
Title: July 21 [Bread Rationing]
Date: 1 July 1946
Film-maker: Pathé
Colour: Black & White
Sound: Sound
Duration of complete item: 2 min. 4 sec.
Themes: Post-war Reconstruction


A Pathé newsreel film on the subject of the introduction of bread rationing and protests against its introduction.


The film opens with the title 'July 21' - the date when bread rationing will begin. The news item then reports on protests against bread rationing by women's groups. Mrs Hilda Davis, is named as leading a group setting up a petition against the rationing, calling on an "army of indignant housewives". The film then shows the Food Minister, John Strachey speaking about improved prospects for North American crops, on his return from the US. The film then states that bread rationing will go ahead on the 21st, despite continued protests. "Vicar's wife and food crusader" Mrs Lovelock is then seen addressing a group of women at a meeting of the British Housewives League. She states that "we, the housewives of Great Britain are in open revolt against bread rationing" and says that rationing will hit the poorest the most and the League will not stand for it. The film then shows a civil servant working in 'bread control' looking at a new bread ration card and finishes with a close-up shot of the ration card and a loaf of bread. The final commentary warns "watch out this doesn't go under the counter".


After the war, many films were made about women welcoming their men back from the front and being keen to please them. But not all women were happy to ‘muddle along’ or passively accept the status quo. As this Pathé newsreel illustrates, many women felt empowered to protest at the continued government restrictions and hardship that existed in the immediate post-war years.
The rationing of food had been established early on during war-time but bread had never before needed to be rationed and it was a bitter irony to many in 1946 that rationing of this staple food would be introduced in the first full year of peace. However, worldwide wheat shortages necessitated this unpopular move.



View this film online
along with thousands of other newsreel films
on the British Pathé website.