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A closer look at the life of a child growing up in Britain during World War 2...

Created by: Jade Coates, Michael Brown, Aiden Petersen & Luke .

The evacuation of all the children in World War II made a big impact on everyone. All the children in the cities had to be evacuated because the cities were more likely to be bombed than the countryside. Many of the children got onto the bus not knowing where they were going or if they were ever going to see their parents again‌

Many grownups at the countryside did not give the children a very warm welcome. During the first few weeks of the war almost four million people, including children, disabled people, pregnant women, and mothers of children in pre-schools were moved from the evacuation areas to the reception areas. School children were evacuated without their parents. They were sent to school with only one change of clothes, toiletries, a packed lunch and a gas mask. At school they were each labeled with luggage labels which was very important because many of the young children did not know their address. The children travelled on buses and trains to the reception areas, some of the trips were over twelve hours long.

The children enjoyed the fact that the school holidays were extended at the beginning of the war but with so many children out of school for such long periods of time, many without parents at home because the men were fighting in the war and the women working, there was more vandalism and hooliganism. Many air raid shelters were wrecked and vandalized by children that eventually people started to lock their air raid shelters. Even though many children did not enjoy being at home alone there were still some children who enjoyed the freedom of being able to play imagination games and collect war ‘souvenirs'. They would collect bits of bombs and crashed planes and often traded them amongst their friends. Even though the children enjoyed playing they still had their daily chores to fulfill. They would help pick blackberries, crab apples, mushrooms, and dandelion leaves which were eaten raw, cooked or made into preservatives. For the children that sometimes didn’t want to be laboring for the war effort there was a limited amount of activities for them to do. Often children played board games, and card games and spent a lot of their time reading especially in the shelters because there was not much to do in the shelters. Many children enjoyed the radio and the programs, like ‘Children's Hour’, which was specially for the children. Saturday morning cinema was another popular source of entertainment for the children where they would watch short cartoons and films.

Children who were in primary school were evacuated without their parents. They had to arrive at school with a gas mask, a packed lunch, a change of clothes and basic toiletry supplies. Each child was given an identity tag, which was especially important for the younger children who did not know their address. The teachers would then travel with the children on busses or trains, sometimes for more than twelve hours. Their school life was very different during the war, often having gas drills. The war effected the kind of games the children played and the rhymes they told. In some villages there wasn’t enough space in the schools for all the children that had been evacuated to that village as well as the children that actually lived in the village therefore some children were being taught in pubs, church halls or anywhere else that there was enough space.

Children who grew up during war time had never tasted an orange or a banana. During war time people were encouraged to grow their own food and cookery books suggested using powdered egg and whale meat. People drank ‘coffee’ made from acorns. A day’s food supply consisted of two slices of bread, two potatoes and half a sugar beet, some people ate tulip bulbs and many of them died. There were no supermarkets. There were different shops for different items. For fruit and vegetables, you went to the greengrocer, for meat, you would go to the butcher, for fish, to the fishmonger and for bread and cakes, to the baker. For groceries like jam, tea, biscuits and cheese you would go to the grocer. There was a lot of rationing happening during World War II because Germany was trying to cut off Britain's food supply as much as possible. Before the war, Britain imported around fifty-five millions tons of food, a month after the war had started the figure had dropped down to twelve million.

A Wartime Childhood  

A closer look at the life of a child growing up in World War Two

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