September 20, 1943
During the final months and days of WWII governments throughout the world began to realize that something would have to be done for the health of the children in war torn Europe.
The Pope’s delegate to Canada and Newfoundland was aware that Newfoundland had a product with considerable medicinal value that should be considered.
On 20 September 1943, church officials in Newfoundland were notified by the Vatican that Rome:
“plans to secure a considerable quantity of cod-liver oil to be kept at its disposal so it can be distributed at the end of the war in those regions where the health conditions of poor children demand it.”
The letter went on the ask the local bishop in St. John’s to
“obtain information, if several thousand pounds of it (cod liver oil) could be bought now in Canada and Newfoundland.”
In Newfoundland, local businessman P.J. Lewis was charged by Archbishop Roche of St. John’s with finding the cod liver oil and looking at how it could be transported to the children in Europe.
Lewis had proven to be equal to the task that was assigned to him. He had managed to find six tons of cod liver oil that they were “able to ship abroad that year, for the children of Europe.”
During World War II, the British Ministry of Food, concerned about the effect of a tightened food supply on health, provided free cod-liver oil for pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five, and adults over forty.The British government, believing that the oil had produced the healthiest children England had ever seen, despite the bombings and the rationing, continued the program until 1971.
Cod Liver Oil is pressed from the fresh liver of the cod and purified. It is one of the best-known natural sources of vitamin D, and a rich source of vitamin A. It has been shown to prevent rickets. Because cod liver oil is more easily absorbed than other oils, it was originally widely used as a nutrient and tonic.
Recommended Archival Collection: Search the online database for descriptions of our archival records and to view thousands of digital photographs. In the search bar type; Cod liver oil –https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections
Recommended Video: Information Video from the British Ministry of Information WWII http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4PgMIPQb7U
Recommended Song: Great Big Sea on their album The Hard and the Easy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyocPX4k4y8