Alex has been going through the Imperial War Museum Archive looking for material for the exhibition on food and bread.
As the WWI unrolled, people on the home front where being ever more strongly made aware that the war effort was a matter for everyone, regardless of station, and food rationing was fundamental for the success of the soldiers in front.
Everybody’s Business is a 35mm movie from 1917 is a British fictional propaganda film on the importance of the rural upper classes leading the way in the campaign to save.
(Reel 1) “Mr Briton” is a pillar of the community, with a wife and daughter, a cook, a maid and a gardener. His son Tom is with the Army in France and his daughter Mabel is an Inspector of Female Labour in a munitions factory. On Mr Briton’s birthday Tom is coming home on leave bringing Lieutenant Jack Goudron RN, Mabel’s sweetheart. Mrs Briton tells her cook, whose son is also serving in France, to prepare a wartime austerity menu for dinner. She scolds the cook and gardener for throwing away bread, using seed potatoes for eating, and removing too much peel. Meanwhile Mr Keen calls on Mr Briton, asking him to join the local War Committee, but since they are local rivals Mr Briton refuses. When his wife tells him the evening’s menu he orders his cook to change it to a better one. Mrs Briton shows him Lloyd George’s newspaper appeal for food economy. “That’s not meant for people like us” he tells her. That night at dinner Tom tells of successful fighting on the Western Front, Jack of the Royal Navy patrols and Mabel of the munitions workers. The ladies retire, while Jack and Tom leave to smoke in the garden. With Tom’s connivance Mabel joins Jack alone in the garden where he proposes marriage to her. Mr Briton falls asleep in his dining room chair. (Reel 2, which is tinted, mainly in yellow, throughout.) He dreams the war is in its final stage. Despite the Royal Navy’s efforts submarines sink British ships, there is famine and bread queues. Lloyd George and Bonar Law appeal to the people, who sign voluntary food pledges, reduce their bread intake and reform their eating habits. Finally a satisfactory and permanent peace is declared, which is announced as causing riots in Berlin and the collapse of German currency. Mr Briton wakes to find himself cheering the news, with his family around him. He tells his dream. Tom says “well the Army’s right! the Navy’s right! all that’s wanted is for civilians to fall in”. Mr Briton calls Mr Keen and joins his Food Committee. He tells his cook that her wasting food is keeping her son in the trenches. She gives this message to the maid and gardener, insisting on food economy. Mr Keen arrives with food campaign posters to cover the house. Mr Briton signs the food pledge issued by King George to maintain the ration scale. The final scene is HMS Victory riding at anchor with the legend “Britain Expects”.