Food and voluntary work in wartime

Generally village people came off better than those who lived in the towns. Although food was rationed, families in the Brook and Mottistone area still did quite well and rarely went hungry. The farms provided milk and eggs, rabbits were in abundance, a lot of people kept a couple of pigs and most people kept chickens for their eggs.

If you wanted beef or lamb, which was rationed, you used your coupons at the butchers. Everyone was encouraged to grow their own vegetables ‘DIG FOR VICTORY’. At Hanover they did a swap with Lithgows of Freshwater, icing sugar for castor sugar, so they could still provide cakes. If you had a good meal inside you, all was well. Everyone helped each other out and food ‘swapping’ or bartering was common.

With many soldiers billeted around Brook and the Royal Fusiliers camped in the barn next to Hanover, Mrs Joe Morris, her daughter Margaret and her daughter-in-law-to-be Gladys Winser, started to serve midday meals as well as teas. This later extended to breakfasts as well and they opened at 8.30 each morning serving sausage, egg and chips. The chips being cooked in out-of-date suet – with no complaint! During snowy conditions, soldiers working on the coastal defence waited with frozen fingers for Hanover to open, to get hot food and drinks. Also, Canadian soldiers from Brook House were known to have sat on the front path waiting for Hanover to open. The villagers were very sad to hear that most of these men who had become their good friends were later killed at the battle of El Alamein. It was worrying times for the two girls alone at Hanover. 

There were no air raid shelters in Brook, so it was a case of ‘hope for the best.‘ At Hanover they would crouch down under the telephone which was hung on an inside wall, but there was not much time to think about what might happen as they were kept busy providing hot food and drinks. Officers stationed at Arborfield (up Coastguard Lane) asked Margaret to hang up their uniforms at Hanover House so they would be smooth before they went on leave.

On Christmas Day, Margaret and Gladys cooked sausage, egg and chips for the soldiers, before cooking their own Christmas dinner. There was no rationing on sausages in wartime. War time Teas consisted of a cup of tea (no pots of tea were sold), bread and butter and homemade queen or fairy cakes. Roast rabbit featured regularly for midday meals. A slate hung behind the kitchen door and every cup of tea and slice of bread and butter had to be accounted for. The village shop, which was part of Hanover House, supplied the tea room with stock using the necessary coupons and separate book-keeping. 

A number of voluntary groups were active in Brook and Mottistone during the Second World War.  Members of the Red Cross were on alert in case of casualties and the Brook Women’s Institute members met together in the Seely  Hall and worked to can fruit, collect rose-hips and herbs and of course, knit for servicemen. They also collected clothes for people left destitute in bombed areas such as Portsmouth.