AS many of us face difficulties purchasing items we require, the Daily Echo takes a look back at when products were even more scarce.

It happened at a time when the people of Hampshire and the country as a whole were writhing in the ominous grip of the Second World War.

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1. Britain were importing 45 per cent less food within in a year

Shortly before the war broke out, Britain was importing 70 per cent of all food consumed - just a year later this had dropped to 25 per cent.

The main reason for this was that German U-boats were sinking merchant ships in the Battle of the Atlantic in an effort to starve Britain into submission.

Daily Echo:

A German U-boat.

2. Rationing began in 1939

Rationing was introduced in 1939 for petrol, and from early 1940 for food, to ensure everybody got their fair share.

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The government was worried the public would otherwise panic buy, leaving less for others. Another concern was that as some items would become scarce, prices would rise, and the poor would consequently go without.

The Daily Echo reported on the rationing of butter, sugar, bacon, and ham when it came into effect on January 8, 1940.

Daily Echo:

One persons weekly ration.

3. About 200,000 people registered for rations in Southampton

One of the busiest places in Southampton that morning was the Food Office in New Road. It was estimated that when meat would be rationed, the office would be dealing with millions of coupons each month.

About 200,000 people registered in Southampton, which considering it’s reduced population at the time, meant many living outside the borough had decided upon registering in the city.

Daily Echo:

Lining up for sugar.

4. Around 2,200 shops registered to sell rationed goods

2,200 shops registered for the sale of rationed goods, including 200 butchers.

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Shoppers were reminded they must take their ration books with them when they wanted to purchase rationed goods. Coupons would not be transferrable to subsequent weeks.

Daily Echo:

Tokens from a ration book.

5. More foodstuffs gradually became restricted

Over the months that followed, the restriction of sales was applied to various other products including meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, lard, milk and canned and dried fruit.

Daily Echo:

A shopkeeper dealing with coupons.

6. Clothing became rationed

Clothing was also rationed on June 1, 1941, not only because imports were reduced, but because clothing factories were used to produce parachutes and uniforms.

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7. Adverts addressed the issue of rationing

Adverts were placed in the Daily Echo for various products throughout the war, often directly addressing the issue of rationing.

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A notice for Fry’s Cocoa claimed people could boost their nourishment and energy levels by having it with their limited milk supply.

Bovril adverts appeared on a regular basis - each with the slogan “Bovril - keeps you going.” Along with the slogans ran an image, including one of a lady welding depth charge casings and one of a lady sewing parachutes.

“Damage by moths may cause you to lose all your clothes coupons in replacing your losses,” read an advert for Mothaks - a product designed to keep moths at bay.

There were other items which weren’t rationed at the time which enjoyed plenty of advertising space.

Numerous producers of flu tonics and soups were regular advertisers, as were OXO and Macleans.

One bizarre OXO advert recommends it with hot milk - sounding like the perfect way to ruin a rationed product.

Daily Echo:

An advert for Bovril.

8. Rationing ended in 1954

One of the last adverts to feature from the days of rationing was on July 3, 1954 - the day before restrictions on meat were lifted.

The notice was for Vernon and Tear Ltd, an Above Bar butchers who traded in all manner of fresh foods.

“Meat rationing ends tonight. The foundation of our business was built pre-war on good quality meat at a fair price.

“It is now our earnest desire to continue where we left off in 1939 with meat you can eat at competitive prices.”