As the Year 2010 Ended with Some Remembrance and History
1. As the year 2010 ended with some remembrance and history of the momentous gap 70 years ago when beleaguered Britain faced an advancing invasion of nazism, reeling from the Retreat from Dunkirk and other parts of France and divisions within the country between the political forces seeking a conditional surrender, and those rallied by that really grown-up schoolboy who vowed to fight and repel the enemy “on the beaches…. .” David Cameron, Britain’s present PM forgot several factors: that this was a recession when we really were alone – no ally in America, and with a PM whose name he had to be reminded of. During the hiatus in hostilities and the blockade by U-boat, the British harvest was safely gathered in and then, in September, the Blitzkrieg, initially on London erupted, beginning a long period of resistance, resilience and ultimately recovery, now with allies from English-speaking countries all over the globe and with refugees from all over Europe who had bravely fought back to the UK but, increasingly after the end of WW2, had histories and cultures in which the events of 1066 and the fates of Henry VIII’s mistresses and wives, as well as the full significance to the survivors of today, cannot be fully appreciated to incomers with histories, cultures and oppression that we inadequately learn about.
2. The health foods in the UK in 1940 and later years were heavily based on sugar (for energy), salt (to preserve food and prevent botulism), protein for pregnant and lactating women and growing children, and staple vegetables in winter, relieved by some summer fruits and the occasional shipload of dried fruits (mainly prunes) infelicitously welcomed into port by the Radio Doctor as those “little black workers” who moved most of those costive bowels. Fish and chips were cheap, fatty and comforting – and certainly with many valuable nutritional properties, like bread (which would be unenriched white) and dripping, but with dietary disadvantages that still occupy today’s “experts.” Rickets, poverty and frank malnutrition were rife; many adolescents joined up for the forces with hopes of summery postings in lands where bananas grew and where ciggies came liberally with the rations and the tea, that other great comforter, and with the Salvation Army and NAAFI. For entertainment the theatricals of ENSA provided concert parties, some with famous names and with manifold versions of the songs, as in the iconic pair of notes opening the verses of Colonel Bogey and the adaptations and censoring of tunes such as Lili Marlene. ENSA’s efforts were recognized as Every Night Something Awful.
3. These were days before significant nutritional factors had to be discovered or appreciated, such as “roughage” and vitamin B12 and neared description as a dubiously safe and standard of a lacto-ovo-vegetarian dietary for “lovies.” At home Churchill’s population of heroes we were mother suckers of breast and udder and we remain ridiculously cowed. There are no monuments for Britain’s Mother Cow, although the old problems of bTB mastitis, lameness and reproductive problems, augmented by other curses of intensification, infection and colostram deficiency, persist.
4. Reprinting an account first published on 30th December 1940 the Guardian offers some inkling of events 70years ago and imprinted in the lifestyles, memories and tastes of people surviving as OAPs and senior citizens, still living “beyond their years” and active in various walks of life to this day. Today’s coalition government should treat them with respect. Many make the core of the charity movement, which is now getting short shrift in return for much valuable social work.
5. Therefore we think our educational efforts at harvest festivals, agricultural shows and exhibitions, such as the still running event at the Imperial War Museum, will be revivals for repetition on the 75th anniversaries in 2015. We hope our notes, database and Portfolio of Eating Plans will provide a good source of education, thought, action and implementation when the government is resolute and the price of wheat, cereals and beans are at levels for sustainable agriculture and diets not needing spatchcocked interventions by Oxfam or the Red Cross. The situation might change as consignments of Brazilfam soya are shipped into fastfood outlets in Oxford.
6. The report from 1940 describes: “British fighter aircraft were up over London during last night’s raid on the capital. The drone of their engines could be heard as they intercepted the enemy planes. The raid was one of the most intense the capital has experienced.” The “alert” was the earliest for some time, but the “raiders passed” was sounded before midnight.
7. The German planes dropped showers of incendiaries, followed by high explosives. Roof watchers amply proved their worth; where they were on duty the incendiaries were immediately extinguished and did no damage. The watchers also did valuable work where fire-bombs had lodged on roofs hidden from the street.
400 in shelter escape
8. While firemen were fighting a number of small fires started by the first raiders, another wave of enemy planes dropped more incendiaries. Several “baskets” of fire-bombs fell in one area alone. Later several districts in the London area and Home Counties reported severe bombing. Two hospitals were struck. Four hundred people in the basement of a church were evacuated without casualties when the building was struck by a bomb. A church built by Wren was also hit. The Tubes were probably fuller than at any time since night raiding on London began. “A trench and shelter was hit and it is feared that there was a number of casualties. Gallant attempts were made at rescuing the trapped people and several were saved.”
Fighters in action
9. At the height of the raid, British fighter aircraft swept in to the attack. The sudden sharp crackle of machine guns surprised firemen, wardens and police. There had been an uneasy silence for a few moments as the anti-aircraft ceased, and then the RAF fighters were heard in action.
10. In some areas there was an almost complete absence of heavy bombs, but more incendiary bombs than ever before were dropped. A reporter in one of the most heavily bombed areas writes: “Firemen and AFS men climbed over roofs and leaned perilously out of windows to deal with the incendiaries. As fast as they extinguished them, however, the air became filled with the clatter of another ‘Molotoff bread-basket’.”
11. These notes preceded subsequent savage attacks on other British cities. The London docks were rased to the ground, but the harvests were dry and in-store and the bakers and milkmen were delivering their goods by mid-morning.