Peter and Ruth return to the Wartime Farm. They come back to recreate the conditions of 1944 and celebrate Christmas. They will have their work cut out for them without Alex. The countryside had to support the city. Ruth clears out the ditches to help carry the water away. A pie scheme was created to help the farmworkers get the calories they needed to keep going.
Five years of fighting had devastated the farmland. The government was pushing and pushing for more farmland to be plowed up. The country people moved into the city to help the city folks. London was under threat from a new deadly weapon. V1 bombs were pilotless bombs, and when they came over a city, their engines would cut out and they would drop. The V2 rocket was the next weapon unleashed by the Nazis. Over 9,000 people were killed.
Ruth talks with a survivor of the London Bombings. For 1944, it was the first Christmas without her father because he was killed on D-Day. At the time, nobody told children if a parent died. These survivors treasure the letters her father sent her. The government sent out Anderson bomb shelters. However, they would be less than ideal. They would flood and they were not very secure. People were buried alive in the shelter. Farmers would use the shelters for storage.
London took the brunt of the attacks. They went to communal shelters. The Women’s Institute and Women’s Voluntary Institution helped take care of the people in the communal shelters. Peter and Ruth talk about what they should do for Christmas. At the start of the war, families evacuated to the country. By 1944, the country people went into the cities to help.
One moral booster was beer. Beer was never rationed during the war. During the war, barley shortages hit the breweries hard. So Peter looks for alternatives to make beer. Colin joins up with Peter to use potatoes to make beer. First, the potatoes need to be washed and put into sacks. Then they needed to be crushed. Colin then tries to make a brewery. Peter and Colin then use the potatoes to make beer. Containers used to store beer were in short supply, so Peter turns to pottery for a container.
Rationing and shortages made celebrating Christmas a challenge. Families either recycled old decorations or made new directions. They brought in colorful flowers called Chinese Lanterns. Christmas trees were scarce as well. Paper decorates were reused year after year. Balloons were also scarce. The Nazis were dropping strips of metal to confuse the radar. However, the people used this metal for Christmas decorations.
The farmers turn to the church for comfort during Christmas. During World War II people returned to the church. Before the war, people were falling away from the church. The war also turned people off the church and after the war, people stopped going to church. Ruth comments that the government wanted the church to bind people together. Even Stalin saw the value in religion and was encouraging churches to reopen. He hoped that the people could bind together and then after the war, religion was banned again.
Prisoners of War came to the local churches and performed for the congregation. Some members remained in England and married local girls. One local community member was friends with two prisoners of war. They both married local girls and they maintained a lifelong friendship with the local people.
After church, Peter checks on the potato beer. So did the beer turn out? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
This would be an excellent episode to show towards the end of December when school is winding down for the year.
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