CARE Then and Now: Wonderful cake with fruit on top

Some of the contents of an original CARE package

A CARE package recipient, who asked to remain anonymous, told us:

Yes, we did receive those wonderful CARE boxes. I was a child at the time so I know my Mother often gave me some of her rations. I well remember opening the box and finding a tinned turkey. We did not know there were such things – but how delicious it was! Yum yum!

Also there was the wonderful cake with glace fruit on the top – that was for Christmas. We ate a small piece each day until it was all gone. Let us not forget the cocoa too. I remember stealing some and eating it with a spoon! Naughty girl.

The fact that someone far away could think of us in such a way meant that I learned the lesson to help others as much as I was able for the rest of my life.


Make do and mend was our motto. Clothes were rationed so my party dress was recycled red woollen cloth from a worn-out adult’s dress and, as there was not enough of it, my dress had bottle green velvet sleeves; I was so proud.

At school in Devon we had two London schools that had been evacuated to escape the Blitz. This meant that we used every bit of floor space for lessons, spent a lot of time in damp air-raid shelters and, because the school kitchen could not cope with the numbers, meals were shipped in.

We had corned beef followed by macaroni pudding three times a week! Ugh! It was years before I could face either again.

I remember seeing G.I.s doing bayonet practice in the local park. We had been told never to talk to the soldiers but we did not know why. One day I was cycling home from school and had to stop at traffic lights. A jeep drew up alongside me on the one side and our gym teacher on a bicycle on the other side. The G.I. offered me gum and I politely said “No thank you”. But they kept on and on and, as sweets were rationed, eventually I accepted as I thought it was rude not to accept such kindness. The teacher said nothing but next morning I was made to go on the stage in front of the whole school and admit my sin as well as getting two detentions. I never spoke to G.I.s again! Isn’t that sad? Of course when I was older I realised that it was for my own innocent protection.

I hope this may be of some interest to you and a big THANK YOU for those wonderful parcels.

Share your story

If you or your family or someone you know received a CARE package, please get in touch to tell us your story:

  • fill in the form below
  • call us on 0800 320 2233

We’re very happy for you to just share a few memories or your full story – as much or as little as you want to share. And if you have any photos or other memorabilia to go with your story, please let us know. We’ve created an online home for memories about the original CARE packages (and we feature longer stories on our website too). We think it’s important that the stories aren’t forgotten and that future generations can share them.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.