Meat Ration Card issued to H. Warlters; 1948; 2014.17


Port Macquarie Museum


Meat Ration Card issued to H. Warlters

About this object

This meat ration card printed on cream coloured paper in red ink with attached numbered coupons was issued to Henry Warlters [1903-1973] of Wauchope by the Deputy Director of Rationing, Sydney for the Commonwealth of Australia.

Rationing was introduced in Australia during World War 2 to manage shortages and control civilian consumption, reduce consumer spending, limit anticipated shortages of essential goods and ensure equitable distribution of food and clothing. It was also hoped that a cut in spending would lead to increased savings and investment in war loans.

Rationing regulations for food and clothing were gazetted on 14 May 1942. Rationing was enforced through the issue and use of coupons, like these ones, and was limited to clothing, tea, sugar, butter and meat. Rationing was administered by the Rationing Commission with coupons surrendered before rationed goods could be supplied. This occurred between traders, including retailers, wholesalers and producers, as well as consumers.

Prior to rationing, meat supplies at Port Macquarie were a problem during holiday times with restrictions on the killing of meat. Local butchers did not always have enough meat to go around, and in late 1943 with an influx of visitors it was a case of ‘…feeding the visitors meat and letting the locals go without…’. Meat rationing introduced early the following year was intended to provide a more equitable distribution.

Meat rationing was gazetted on 14 January 1944 and abolished on 24 June 1948. The initial meat rations for an adult were 2 ¼ lbs per week, however these were adjusted or reduced at times. For example, in May 1945 the adult meat ration was cut by 12 ½ per cent and supplies to hotels and cafes cut by 25 per cent. The remaining 56 coupons attached to the ration card reflect the abolition of meat rationing in the middle of 1948. Coupons numbered 1 to 48 had already been used.

Coupons also had expiry dates, although they were not printed on the actual coupons. The Port Macquarie News regularly printed coupon expiry dates as a reminder for its readers.

Henry Warlters, also known as Harry, was born at Rollands Plains, near Port Macquarie in 1903. He was a farmer before becoming involved in civic affairs, being elected Hastings Shire Council in 1944 and representing ‘A’ riding for 21 years. He served as Hastings Shire President from 1961 to 1964. He was also a director of Hastings Cooperative at Wauchope and the Rural Co-op Society at Port Macquarie. He died in Sydney on 17 December 1973, aged 69 years.

Henry married Rosellen Breckenridge of ‘Breckendale’ Kendall on 25 January 1939 at Taree, just seven months before Australia’s involvement in the Second World War [1939-1945] began. No doubt the war impacted their plans as a married couple and domestic life would have become more challenging with the introduction of rationing, which in the case of meat continued for almost three years after the war ended.

Ration cards are a reminder of the economic impacts of war and the resulting restrictions on personal freedom and choice on the home front. This ration card evidences meat rationing during World War 2 and the effects of the war on those who stayed and served at home. Henry Warlters served the people of the Hastings river valley as a civic leader during wartime and beyond.

Debbie Sommers
17 December 2016

Date Made


Place Made


Medium and Materials

Paper, ink

Inscription and Marks

Hand written in ink: H Warlters/Wauchope


126mm L, 98mm W

Subject and Association Keywords


Credit Line

Donor: Y Cooper

Object Type

Ration cards

Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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