Britain is Your Friend

Rosemary Hill

  • Persuading the People: British Propaganda in World War Two by David Welch
    British Library, 224 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 7123 5654 1

In 1942, the Ministry of Food issued the Emergency Powers Defence (Food) Carrots Order. The ministry had requisitioned all carrots ‘grown on holdings of one acre and above’ the year before, buying them in at twopence per pound, and it now had a hundred thousand tons to get rid of. Before the outbreak of war in 1939 Britain imported 70 per cent of its food. Rationing was introduced in 1940 and the humble carrot, cheap and easy to grow, had many advantages. The principal difficulty was getting people to eat them. In addition to recipes for carrot curry, carrot jam and a nasty-sounding carrot and swede juice drink called Carrolade, there were posters featuring the Ministry of Information’s Doctor Carrot, an avuncular fellow in spats and a top hat carrying a medical bag labelled ‘vit-A’. Like many wartime campaigns it was aimed at parents, particularly mothers, with the promise of healthy food for children. The ministry also resorted to the myth that carrots make you see in the dark, an advantage during the blackouts and, they went so far as to suggest, the secret of the RAF’s success in night-time raids.

Walter Spradbery’s image of Temple Church for the ‘Proud City’ posters
Walter Spradbery’s image of Temple Church for the ‘Proud City’ posters

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