18 OCTOBER 1940, Page 13


Sta,—I should like to contest the remarks of your correspondent, Mr. Jones Davies, in The Spectator of October 4th, relative to France's food position in January last. Being a common soldier, I was billeted in a village some five miles south of Lille from the beginning of October, 1939, until May, 194o, during which period having become

intimate with two peasant families I had ample opportunity of dis- cussing and observing the food situation.

There was never any shortage of bread, potatoes or green vege- tables; butter, beef, horse, pork and ham were freely obtainable but not to the same extent as in peace; from the end of November onwards coffee and sugar became increasingly scarce, indeed at times quite unobtainable,.and from January the same applied to mutton, fish and eggs. These stoppages of supplies were generally ascribed to transport difficulties arising from the maintenance of .arge armies and the ex- ceptional severity of the winter The decree laws restricting the sale of various foodstuffs (and spirits) to certain days of the week were un- popular and, outside the larger towns, more or les . disregarded, al- though the cost of living was rising appreciably from month to month. My observations extended to but a minute area, but I believe the same could be said of Northern France as a whole. I Take leave to sign