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Molly at the Kitchen Front

[Evidence: Objects Dropped From The air (1943); Evidence: The Air Attack on Swansea:The Controller's Statement to the County Borough Council][Evidence: The 1939 Air Raid Pamphlet][The Luftwaffe 1kg incendiary bomb][The Castle Street Bomb, February 1941] [The Hospital Square Bomb, 1943] [Luftwaffe photo of Swansea, 1940][Gas and chemical warfare] [Preparing a Refuge Room][Bombing Accuracy in the 1940s (or why Swansea burned)] [Evidence: The 1938 Air Raid Guide] [ The Air War over South Wales ] Douhet, Trenchard and the 'Moral Effect' of bombing ] Dr Robert Knauss and German air war doctrine ] The Spanish Civil War and the Condor Legion ] The Blitz on Britain ] Luftwaffe Air Operations Over Swansea in 1940 ] [Prior Warning:Enigma, KGr100 and Swansea Blitz] Luftwaffe Operations over Swansea  1941 to 1943 ] Growing up during the Swansea Blitz. Peter Dover-Wade's wartime experience ] [Swansea's Blitz in colour] [ Swansea Blitz (Swansea ablaze) ] Swansea Blitz (Ben Evans Store) ] Swansea Blitz (Ben Evans smoulders) ] Swansea Blitz (Further damage) ] Swansea Blitz (General damage) ] Swansea Blitz (Temple Street) ] Bomb Type ] Eye of the Eagle. The Luftwaffe aerial photographs of Swansea ] Luftwaffe Targets in Swansea ]

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Molly at the Ministry of Food ] [ Molly in the press ] [ Shopping in London ] [ Taking tea at the Ministry ] [Molly's first 'Kitchen Front' Script]
For a week in 1942, a Swansea housewife became the centre of media attraction in wartime Britain. Morfydd (Molly) Jeffreys from Dunvant was one of 24 women selected from all over the country to share her knowledge and experience of cooking with the rest of the nation. At the age of 33 Molly was taken to London, her first visit to the city, to advise the experts at the Ministry of Food in how to get the best from the stringent food rationing that was in place at the time.

This was no mere publicity stunt. The Ministry was acutely aware that it was experiencing problems in getting across the message of how to cope with food rationing. Throughout the War considerable effort was made to educate people in sensible cooking and careful use of their food rations. Such education was an essential cornerstone of the food rationing system. If it was to work correctly, people had to have confidence in rationing. Officials in the Ministry were clever enough to realise that women like Molly held the key to getting the message across because of the way in which they coped with restrictions and rationing on a daily basis whilst still feeding their families.

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British wartime food rationing started on 8 January 1940 although preparations had been made before the War had begun. Both British and German governments quickly realised that the quickest way to defeat Britain was to attack British food imports as they came across the Atlantic. 1940 saw the start of a bitter trade war in the North Atlantic as German U-boats attacked merchant convoys bringing food and vital supplies from America.

Although not all foods were rationed there was sufficient restriction to make food preparation difficult without careful thought and planning. The practical skills of women such as Molly had been developed over many years of coping with lean times in the depression (particularly in South Wales) so they were particularly well placed to cope with rationing when it was imposed. The Ministry of Food realised that such skill and knowledge was a vital asset in what would be called the ‘Kitchen Front’.

Central to the drive and energy of the Ministry of Food was its chief, Lord Woolton. Frederick Marquis had become Lord Woolton in 1939, in April 1940 he became head of the Ministry of Food and responsible for the feeding of over 40m British citizens. Woolton was a powerful and charismatic administrator and he quickly surrounded himself with an able and effective team. The country was divided into nineteen areas of control with further layers of administration which mirrored the existing local government areas. However Woolton was a sufficient visionary to realise that his administrative machine would be worthless without the active support and goodwill of housewives such as Molly. (Continued)

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Below: Lord Woolton with Molly at a British Restaurant (specialised canteen) in October 1942.

Molly talking to lord Woolton at a British Restaurant in October 1942.

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Molly's story continued

SHW Microhistory: 2. Blitz bomb damage

Swansea Central Police Station  bomb damage.

Swansea's old Central Police Station in Orchard Street is one of the few surviving buildings that still has the scars of the air attacks of the Second world War.

The Orchard Street side of the building is peppered with gouges into the brickwork as a result of a large bomb detonation at roof height above a building opposite the station. The damage was most likely caused by a German fragmentation bomb detonating as it hit the walls or roof of other buildings.

Fragmentation weapons were used by all sides in the war because they would cause dreadful wounds to firemen and rescue workers or anyone within a large radius of the detonation. The police station was not a specific target but it was sufficiently close to the centre of the bombing to be exposed to danger for most air raids. Most of the buildings hit in the Swansea raids were either completely rebuilt after the war or demolished so such signs of the violence of the air

attacks is comparatively rare. Even as late as 1940, a number of British government advisors believed that German aircraft would not have the range necessary to attack west coast ports such as Swansea and Cardiff. It is to the eternal credit of the officials of the County Borough of Swansea in the late 1930s that they spent a great deal of time and effort in preparing for air raids which probably saved a number of lives across the Borough when the attacks came.

The building is shortly to be redeveloped and I have no idea whether the damage will be removed or left untouched. I know many people walk past each day and have no idea what the marks mean, which is a shame because this is part of the city's history and a far more eloquent testimony to the sacrifice of the war years than the anti-aircraft gun that sits at the New Cut bridge.

More SHW Microhistory

Swansea Central  Police Station bomb damage.

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