World War II Survival Lessons

World War II Civilian Survival Lessons
Rationing, victory gardens and surviving war as a civilian

How American Civilians helped win World War II (and
survive).
History repeats itself they say. Capitalizing on wartime lessons
can help you for any disaster, not just war. Below are some
civilian survival skills and ideas garnered from the civilians who
survived World War II with patriotism, collaboration and a "can
do" attitude. Below are survival lessons garnered from civilians
during the war...

Prepper Lessons of Civilian Survival from
World War II
Preppers can learn from the civilians who lived through World
War II:

  • People learned to make more with less as shortages
    were common. Most folks remembered the Lessons of
    Great Depression and knew how to "make do" or "do
    without." They rationed to ensure the soldiers had their
    fair share. They rationed to keep prices down. They also
    rationed because production was much lower as much of
    the workforce headed to war.

  • Everyone felt a patriotic spirit. While Americans were
    fighting abroad, U.S. Civilians planted Victory gardens to
    help ensure their was food on the table. Women worked
    non-traditional jobs. Everyone volunteered to support the
    war effort, even children, who recycled raw materials, felt
    a civic duty to respond. Such patriotism helped win the war.

  • People truly had a "can do" attitude! Civilians did what
    they could to run the country while supporting the soldiers.
    The feeling was "we're all in this together." Patriotism
    came with certain rules...

  • Loose lips sink ships. Soldiers were told, "Tell NOBODY --
    not even HER." and "the enemy ears are listening."
    Civilians knew that "careless war talk, cost lives." This
    concept applies to preppers, as well. Kids who brag about
    their parents stash will go hungry or wind up dead in times
    of trouble.

In times of war, it may be that Americans will again come
together, but only time will tell. Below are some of the lessons
of hardships, uniting, and the sacrifice Americans made...

What can a prepper learn from World War II?
Wartime lessons can help you survive any disaster, not just
war. Rationing, victory gardens, making do, along with tips and
tricks, here's what a civilian needs to know to survive wartime
or anytime crisis hits...

World War II Lesson #1: Bartering was important.
Man has bartered and traded for more than 3,000 years. It was
no different during war time; however, situations were different.

  • Soldiers, for example, would trade their rations for their
    preferred meals, but the labels often fell off, making
    bartering useless. Non-smokers might be able to barter
    their cigarettes for chocolate and vice versa.

  • Civilians might travel to the countryside to bargain directly
    with farmers, bringing them useful used wares in exchange
    for grain, dairy products and meat or fruits and vegetables
    they didn't grow at home. Of course gas, too was rationed.
    They gladly sacrificed silver for farm cheeses, hams, and
    whatever they couldn't grow themselves.

During World War II people bartered:
  1. alcohol.
  2. cigarettes. Tobacco was like money in that it was portable
    and in a familiar denomination!
  3. Rations. Bartering rationed goods was illegal, but people
    did it discreetly to get the items they needed.
  4. Silver.
  5. services: Skilled blacksmiths, carpenters, doctors,
    dentists, farmers, fishers, mechanics, nurses plumbers,
    and hunters prospered.

LESSONS LEARNED: While you can learn from what people
bartered during the war, you'll have to think creatively about
what will be most valued in the future. For example, Roman
soldiers bartered salt, but salt wasn't a bartered item during
World War II. Coffee was highly prized though!

World War II Lesson #2: Cigarettes were a soldier's
steady.
During World War II cigarettes were valued for bartering and
survival. Cigarettes really were "the soldier's steady." The
military even included a 9-pack of commercial-grade cigarettes
in soldier rations.

While cigarettes are a politically incorrect addiction today,
cigarettes were extremely useful to soldiers for many reasons.

  • Bartering. As mentioned above, a cigarette was a
    convenient bartering item because of its rarity, portability
    and acceptance. Matches were equally important.










  • Bug bites. Sooth bug bites by chewing the tobacco, then
    applying directly to the affected area.

  • Parasite removal. According to Mykel Hawke, in his
    Special Forces Survival Handbook, pictured immediate left,
    cigarettes are an anti-parasitic! Apparently, swallowing the
    tobacco in cigarettes can shock gut worms out of your
    system.

  • Tinder. Cigarettes were meant to burn!

  • Toothaches. The tobacco in cigarettes can have an
    analgesic effect.

  • Wounds (bleeding). Cigarettes really can stop bleeding!
    It's true that smokers with periodontal disease have less
    bleeding than non-smokers. Apply a poultice of tobacco on
    the wound. What's more, tobacco administered by rectum
    can aid in relief of constipation from hemorrhoid bleeding.

LESSONS LEARNED: Don't overlook cigarettes as part of your
survival plan. If you don't smoke, then all the better! You'll
have tinder and barter, and first aid.






















While cigarettes are politically incorrect today, they played an
important role during World War II. Preppers need to remember
that cigarettes are tinder and good for bartering!

World War II: Lesson #3: Chocolate is a ration.
Chocolate in wartime was a treat, but it was also an important
ration!

  • M&Ms debuted in 1941 to address the practical need for
    heat-resistant chocolates to send overseas to U.S. Soldiers.

  • Tootsie Rolls also gave a chocolaty twist to caramels.

  • Soldier Fuel Energy Bars, pictured immediate left, were
    developed for the U.S. Military for use by soldiers. This
    yummy bar is packed with 17 vitamins and minerals and
    has a 3-year shelf life. With an ideal balance of protein,
    carbohydrates and fat, this is a great bugout bag item.

LESSONS LEARNED: Don't underestimate the importance of
chocolate. Also, be sure to
learn about survival desserts.

World War II Lesson: #4: Coffee has a role in survival.
Coffee has many survival uses and was an important ration.
American soldiers have had an incredible love affair with coffee
and became so closely identified with the brew that their words
became the modern day vernacular. Yes, it's thanks to "GI Joe"
that we Americans yearn for our daily "Cup of Joe."
Rationing stamps were issued on coffee for each member of the
household 15 years and up (one pound, every five weeks). How
lucky it must have been for the parents of teen who didn't drink
coffee to get a little extra ration. Most people re-used grounds
which made for a watery Cup of Joe, they called Roosevelt
water.















Above, Franklin's Finest coffee is 100% pure Columbian coffee
gently freeze-dried To preserve flavor and last 25-years.

During World War II when coffee was a rationed because it was
in short supply, civilians made coffee from grains, roasted
chicory, dandelion root, and even acorns:

LESSONS LEARNED: Stockpile coffee now or learn to make
coffee from grains, chicory, dandelion root and acorns!

World War II Lesson #5: Grains.
Food is a weapon and World War II proved it. Henry A.
Kissinger also famously said: "He who controls the food
controls the world." This is food for thought and reason enough
to store as many grains as possible if you're a prepper.

Did you know how grain was used to spread biological hazard?
It's true! During World War II, Japan contaminated grain with
plague-infected fleas, then Japan dropped the grain from planes
onto China to weaken their population. Learn more about
bioterrorism.

LESSONS LEARNED: As the poster right reads,  "Food is a
weapon, don't waste it! Buy wisely, cook carefully, eat it all."

World War II Lesson #6: Gum.
Chewing gum has had a significant role in wartime efforts. Gum
was included in rations for many reasons. It can relief stress,
increase mental alertness, improve mental alertness and so
much more. Gum really can help you survive!

Gum is a morale booster as well. U.S. Soldiers distributed their
Wrigleys gum from their rations during World War II (along with
chocolate) as a form of goodwill to the people of war-torn
regions.They did this to help improve morale. Kids were
especially fond of receiving this precious gift.





















LESSONS LEARNED: Gum has many survival uses from
boosting morale and mental alertness, to relieve stress and
quenching thirst. It can even help you catch a fish. Learn more
about how gum can help you survive.

World War II Lesson #7: Go for a classic Knife.
The famous KA -Bar was designed to serve U.S. troops during
WW II and is still doing its job, with honors, more than 70
Years later. More than 1,490 customer reviews give this knife a
4.9 out of 5 stars, making it a classic.  The knife is still made
in the United States, though the leather sheath is made in
Mexico.








LESSONS LEARNED:  The  Ka-Bar has an unquestionable
history of hard-core reliability for everyday chores. While you
can find more exotic and tactical knives and you can shell out
hundreds of dollars more, you won't regret your purchase of this
high-grade custom style combat knife that ships for less than
$67.

World War II Lesson #8: Make the most of matches.
During World War II, matches were precious to soldiers. To
extend use of the supply they had, soldiers would split them to
get two strikes out of one match.

LESSON LEARNED. Having the skill to split matches is an
advantage to stretch resources in bushcrafting or urban survival
settings. Learn how to split a match:





















World War II Lesson #9: Meats.
Meats were prized and conserved at home. Civilians would forgo
meat to ensure the service men and women were well fed. They
would also be encouraged to eat organ meat. Liver was popular.

First introduced in 1937, Hormel SPAM gained popularity during
World War II as a budget friendly, shelf-stable lunch meat that
needed no refrigeration. If it was good enough for the military
men and women, American housewives began to reason it was
good enough for them and made it a household staple. It's still
well worth stockpiling for emergency today.


























Above, the ration meals included a variety of meats. The labels
would often fall off, which is how the term "mystery meat"
came to be. Soldiers could not barter for their favorite meals,
because what was inside was a complete mystery.

World War II Lesson #10: Morale is important in
survival!
World War II taught everyone a winning attitude of making
things work.

  • Can do attitude: Surviving war time as a civilian meant
    everyone had to have a "can do" attitude. Women rolled
    up their sleeves -- in the Rosie the Riveter era -- to enter
    the workforce, reduce their standards, and help keep
    morale strong in the homeland. Even children were
    considered little soldiers and did their part. The youth of
    the time collected everyday items for the military or
    helped plan victory gardens to add to the food supply.

  • USO entertainment: You can't win a war if your troops
    don't feel supported by the backing of the nation. That's
    the premise behind the United Service Organization. It's
    goal was to strengthen America’s military service members
    by keeping them connected to family, home and country,
    throughout their service to the nation. During World War
    II, the USO brought entertainment to the troops, along
    with programs and services.

LESSONS LEARNED: As a prepper, you have a role in boosting
morale to survive! Make plans now to entertain when the
electronic devices won't work. You'll be the happiest preppers
on the planet when you prepare.

  • Music. If you have a musician in the family, you'd be wise
    to invest in music sheets. Sometimes you can download
    these on the Internet. As long as the music you play does
    not call unwanted attention, there is reason to celebrate
    with song.

  • Board games. You'll never be bored when you have board
    games handy. A deck of cards to play solitaire or poker is a
    cheap thrill and can bring a sense of normalcy in otherwise
    stressful times. Some games will help you practice
    prepping skills. Here's our list of board games for preppers.

  • Morale boosting foods. The foods you eat can benefit
    morale both in terms of changing the physiology of your
    mind and in providing comfort.

There are many more ways you can keep a positive attitude.

World War Lesson #11: Rationing meant victory.
Civilians received ration coupons to control food and resources.
Propaganda suggests that rationing helped keep prices fair.
Wealthy individuals would otherwise get all the supplies.

What was rationed most during World War II?
Meat was among the most prized of foods, but so was butter,
coffee
and sugar. Civilians constantly were reminded to "do
with less, so they'll have enough! This instilled a patriotic duty.
As a result, victory gardens ensued and canning also became
popular.
Rationing wasn't lifted until 1947!

Foods most rationed:
  1. Butter
  2. Coffee
  3. Meat
  4. Sugar

Eating for victory was a patriotic duty in America, as things
were really much worse in Europe! Rationing food was an effort
for American civilians to help the U.S. troops and allies get
proper sustenance to win the war effort. You see, the United
States hadn't joined the war effort until 1941, and as a country
we hadn't been putting back food! Without any stockpiling of
supplies, we really had to conserve what we had as a nation.

LESSONS LEARNED: There are many lessons when it comes to
rationing. Putting back food is an essential practice as is
planting food and canning it. Rationing also helped keep the
costs down, making prices fair for everyone. Preppers can
enhance their position by stockpiling good that were most
rationed!

Do you know the real purpose of a ration bar? It's to provide
minimal sustenance in a non-thirst provoking way. It's a sure
way to starve yourself to death slowly, because it's not enough
calories in a day. Ration bars have a role in survival, learn all
about
how to use ration bars properly.

World War II Lesson #12: Recycling is always in
patriotic!
Kids helped during the war in collecting useful items to recycle.
  • Tin and scrap metal was recycled to make weapons
  • Rubber bands and other scraps of rubber were collected
    from shoes or old tires  to make new tires and more
    importantly gas masks for the soldiers.
  • Toothpaste tubes.

LESSONS LEARNED: Recycling is patriotic and always in
fashion. Do your part and learn to reuse what you don't recycle.

World War II Lesson #13: Curb your Spending.
Unnecessary spending was suspended during the war! As the
vintage ad, below left explains, "It's your money you're saving
when you keep prices down. For it's buying too much when
there's too little that sends prices up. And when prices go up --
and keep going up -- your savings, your future, are in danger.
How can you help keep prices down? By never spending a thin
dime you could turn into a War Stamp." by thinking twice -- and
thinking "No" -- at every urge to open your purse. By wearing
old things out, making makeshifts do. Remember, it's the
things you
don't buy that keep prices down! The chipped tea
cup ad further illustrates the patriotic duty of being thrifty.

LESSONS LEARNED: Be thrifty -- be a saver! Use it up (eat
every bite of food, save every scrap of soap). Wear it out (use
shoes until they are worn out), make do (patch and darn and
turn clothing) or do without (and put your money into savings
and preps).





































World War II Survival Lesson #14: Plant Victory Garden.
During wartime, everyone planted food for economic survival
and victory! It was a patriotic duty to plant a garden. Today
gardening isn't considered patriotic, though it should be, but it
does instill a sense of self-reliance and thrift. Grow food, not
lawns

LESSONS LEARNED:
  • Have a secret survival garden!
  • Plant an edible

There are many more things we can learn from World War II,
such keeping your feet clean and dry or learning emergency war
surgery.

Happy endings...
Survival is learning from the past. Ask elders who survived
World War II how they made it through! Keep on learning.

Related articles...

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