Scotlands History

Dig for Victory

The Dig for Victory campaign encouraged people to transform gardens, parks and sports pitches into allotments to grow vegetables. People also kept their own chickens, rabbits and goats. Nine hundred pig clubs were set up and about 6000 pigs were raised in gardens.

The Government knew the British people could be starved out by a sea blockade; as much imported food came from Canada and America, supplies were vulnerable to attack from the German navy. The British Merchant Navy also had to change its role, to be available for transporting troops and munitions.

The head of the Agricultural Plans Branch of the Ministry of Food, Professor John Raeburn (1912-2006), born in Aberdeen, set up the Dig for Victory campaign.

The campaign was spearheaded by Lord Woolton, Minister for Food, and it fired public enthusiasm via radio broadcasts. It introduced ‘Dr Carrot’ and ‘Potato Pete’; displayed iconic posters in stations, shops and offices; produced leaflets and recipes, as well as specially written songs and slogans, and even lists of recommended ‘food for free’ in the countryside.

Dig! Dig! Dig!
And your muscles will grow big
Keep on pushing the spade
Don't mind the worms
Just ignore their squirms
And when your back aches laugh for glee
Just keep on digging
Till we give our foes a wigging
Dig! Dig Dig! for Victory!

Dig for Victory song

It was an inspirational campaign carried through with great success, using marketing techniques well ahead of their time.

It was recognised that the work had to continue long after the war; as rationing continued the people of Britain were told: ‘Do not rest on your spades, except for brief periods which are every gardener’s privilege.’

  • Dig for Victory
  • Detail from poster for the Dig for Victory campaign issued during World War II
Click on the image to view a larger version.

Young people help with the potato harvest

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