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Gallery: Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife (Part 2)

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

This is part 2 of the photo feature I ran yesterday released by the War Office in 1941 and show some of the grim realities of living in wartime Britain. Part 2 has a much happier ending though (scroll to the end!)

Above: Mrs Day separates cardboard and tin from her household rubbish, ready for salvage, outside the basement of her home in South Kensington, London.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

After lunch, Mrs Day sets out to do her weekly shop on the King’s Road in Chelsea. She walks past several women with prams and a member of the RAF as they queue to the left of a large furniture store. The shop has furniture displayed on the street and the sign on its frontage says ‘Antique, Second-Hand and Modern Furniture’. Just above the heads of this group of people is a small sign directing people to a First Aid Post. In the background, other people go about their daily business and buses and cars are just visible in the distance. This photograph was almost certainly taken from a point on the King’s Road parallel to Walpole Road and is looking towards Sloane Square: the clocktower and spire just visible in the distance is on a building next door to Peter Jones department store.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

Mrs Day stops to look in the window of a shop to see what is available to her this week. The photograph is taken from inside the shop, and Mrs Day can be seen next to the shopkeeper. A group of other shoppers can also be seen. This photograph was probably taken on the King’s Road in Chelsea.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

A shopkeeper stamps Mrs Day’s ration book during her shopping trip on the Kings Road in Chelsea. In the foreground can be seen the tea, sugar, ‘national butter’, margarine, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

Mrs Day, helped by the female conductor, jumps on the bus that will take her to work. In the background, it is clear that quite a bit of air raid damage has been sustained. This photograph was probably taken on Fulham Road. The tower visible in the background is part of St Stephen’s Hospital (now the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital), which was built in 1878 as the Fulham Workhouse and St George’s Infirmary.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

Mrs Day is helped by a female conductor onto the bus that will take her to work. This photograph was probably taken on Fulham Road.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

Mrs Day and colleagues work at one of many filing cabinets in the office. According to the original Ministry of Information caption, Mrs Day works as a ‘girl clerk in a war-time organisation’ and that filing takes up most of her time. The caption goes on to say that she works Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm, but that as this photograph was taken on a Saturday, she would be finished by 2pm. It also states that ‘if there is a rush of work, she will work Sunday as well’.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

Mrs Day puts her dinner into the oven after a busy day. The Ministry of Food encouraged people to cook their entire meal in the oven as a way to save fuel.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

Mrs Day puts her dinner into the oven after a busy day. The Ministry of Food encouraged people to cook their entire meal in the oven as a way to save fuel.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

Mrs Day sets the table in preparation for the evening meal in the sitting room of her South Kensington home. She is expecting her naval husband Lt Kenneth Day to arrive home on leave, so the table is set for two and a vase of flowers has been added.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

While her evening meal is cooking, Mrs Day settles down on her bed with the evening paper and a spot of sewing. She is working on a balaclava and is accompanied by her cat ‘Little One’.

Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife

Mrs Day runs to greet her husband Lieutenant Kenneth Day at the door of her South Kensington home as he arrives home on leave.

 You can see Part 1 of this photo gallery here.

Image source and copyright: This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.

4 thoughts on “Gallery: Day in the Life of a Wartime Housewife (Part 2)

  1. Kitty

    Thank you so much for your World War II series, from the photos and chilling testimony of the camp guards, to Mrs Day doing her best on the home front. These personal stories make the past a real place, not just a vintage fantasy. I hope Mr. and Mrs Day made it through the war and had a long and happy life together.

    Reply

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