Make Do and Mend
During the Second World War rationing of clothing was introduced to ensure equal availability for all to scarce resources. Everyone was urged to take care of their clothes and to reuse materials whenever possible. A great deal of ingenuity was required to make the most of materials not usually used for clothing. Parachute silk was particularly useful for underwear, and even wedding dresses.
Ration book for clothing, issued for 1942-1943 (MS 425/17)
Silk stockings with hosiery case, and knickers made from parachute silk (Private collections)
Family celebrations, especially wartime weddings, demanded the pooling of coupons for clothing and food in order to provide a suitable trousseau for the bride and a festive reception.
Photograph of the wedding of Harry Bennett to Ida Lofty (MS 425/17)
Ida's wedding dress as displayed in the exhibition
Harry Bennett served in the Royal Army Service Corps and was evacuated from France in June 1940.
The wedding took place while he was on leave on Thursday 8 January 1942 at St Thomas' Church, Brampton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. The bride and groom spent two days honeymoon in Nottingham
Many wartime weddings had to be arranged hurriedly when the groom came home on leave and many honeymoons were brief occasions taken locally, as transport was difficult and the coastal resorts were restricted areas.
I had managed to get some material from Jesse's which was in very short supply and you needed coupons for it, somehow we managed to get enough for my dress and bridesmaids. The choirmaster's wife made my dress, and I did my headdress, and made the bridesmaids' dresses. My veil was just several yards of plain net, which I later dipped in cream colour and used as curtains.
…A relation worked at a grocery shop and managed to get us a chocolate iced cake. Mother was friendly with Parrs the butchers and got some ham and tongue. Aunts provided tinned fruit and jellies, in fact quite a feast, 60 people sat down for this meal.
…In July of the next year, 1942, we had a belated honeymoon, we cycled into Derbyshire and had 5 days at the "Bulls Head Inn" at Tideswell, sending luggage by train to be picked at Millersdale. It was lovely, I've loved Derbyshire ever since.
Memories of the wartime wedding of Albert and Maisie, 1941
Newspaper clipping about the wedding of Ernest Ray to Gladys Green (Acc 1934/2)
Driver Ernest Ray, of the R.A.S.C., was so shy about his wedding that, two days before it was due to take place, he had not asked his C.O. for leave. So his friend, Driver Arthur Seymour, approached the C.O. for him, and both men were given forty-eight hours' leave.
Meanwhile, however, his fiancée, Miss Gladys Green, not having heard from him, had cancelled the arrangements. A frantic wire was sent to the prospective bride. Arrangements were made again. And here they are after the ceremony at Brentford yesterday. The bride shakes hands with Driver Seymour, whom she has to thank for saving the situation.
Next: Food rationing