March 11th 1917

Lord Devonport (the Food Controller) has asked that we observe restraint (Daily Telegraph, Feb 3rd, p.9and suggests we limit our consumption to 4 lbs of bread, 2½ lbs of meat and ¾ lb sugar per person per week.

This subject of War Rations – albeit voluntary – at Schools, has elicited considerable correspondence, starting with my letter of February 17th to the Editor of the Times:

Sir,

I have a household of 103, including 70 boys under 14. I find we use on an average over 5lb. bread per head per week (including flour for pastry, etc), nearly 3lb. meat, including bacon and sausages and fish, and ¾ lb sugar, including cookery, but not jam and marmalade. A reduction in bread and meat would affect the boys much more than the grown-ups.

We tried giving rations of bread for a day – 4 oz. for breakfast and dinner, 4 oz. for tea and supper, the remaining 8 oz. per week per head going as flour for pastry etc. The majority of the boys had not enough. Now to put these boys on rations would mean pecuniary profit to myself and detriment to the children whose parents pay me for feeding them.

It appears to me to be neither patriotic nor honest to adopt rations under these circumstances. I hear that it is done, however, at houses in various public schools.

An authoritative reply in your columns would be useful.

Yours etc.,

CC Lynam

This brought some indignant remonstrances and was taken as intimating that the introduction of Rations implied underfeeding at schools.

I found that instead of saving themselves expense, the housemasters provided substitutes considerably more expensive than the food which was rationed (eg malt cakes, oatmeal and wheaten biscuits, maize scones, an increased amount of fish, eggs and cheese etc.)

But what was a really satisfactory outcome was the fact that the Food Controller has declared that in the case of growing boys and girls, the Ration order is not expected to be strictly complied with.

In meat I find that we are within the mark, but I cannot bring myself to believe that a restricted bread supply is good for young people; or that substitutes altogether supply the same nutriment.

As regards sugar, at the Boarding House a rather curious thing happened. One week, following the example recommended by an old boy, each boy and grown-up had a cardboard box containing 10 oz. of sugar for the week – it being considered that 2 oz. per week per head should be used in cooking.

By the end of the week most boys had a good deal left. Some had not touched their rations; they proposed to take or send it home, or to have a good toffee-making session. My Lady housekeeper, seeing the boxes were not empty, thought the boys had been practising economy, and merely filled up each box to 10 oz.

In the morning there were cries of dismay! The boys naturally thought that the amount saved was their own property; and I could but declare that ‘a ration’s a ration’ and that it is the property of the rationee. So each boy had to estimate the amount of sugar left in his box and it was weighed out to him.

At the end of term I dare say I will end up buying back off the boys quite a lot of sugar. Well, either they had previously had had too much or else now they are having too little!