History: Children in World War II
Life for children in Britain during World War II
World War II had a big effect on the everyday lives of people all over the country. Life changed for everyone, especially children. Parents going away to fight, homes being bombed, spending nights in air-raid shelters, rationing for sweets and being sent away from home to live in the countryside - all these things happened to children during the Second World War.
Almost two million children were evacuated to the countryside at the beginning of World War II in order to escape the bombing that were going to start. Theses children were know as evacuees. They were sent away on trains to live in the countryside with strangers. They had labels attached to their clothes so that everyone knew who they were and where they were going to. These children were sometimes separated from their friends and brothers and sisters. It could be very exciting - or very scary. Evacuees sometimes ran away to go back home again because they were homesick. Later in the war they were sent home again when it was safe.
Rationing had a great effect on peoples lives. It meant that children had a very different diet beacuse sweets, meat, flour, butter, and many other important foods were rationed to limited amounts to each family. People learned to make meals which used the food they had available. For example, although there was less sugar there were still lots of carrots. So people made a lot of carrot cakes during the war!
People were constantly afraid of air raids. Some children spent of their nights sleeping in air raid shelters because they were frightened that German planes would bomb their houses. During the Blitz, which was the heaviest period of bombing in Britain, Germany bombed major British cities like Coventry and London. Over 40,000 civilians died in these bombings.
One in ten deaths during the Blitz was a child. Because of a fear that the Germans would use poisoned gas in their bombs people were given gas masks. Children were given brightly coloured gas masks to make them more appealing andfun. Where children still went to school they had to take gas and bomb drills - just like we still do fire drills to practice what to do if there is a fire.
The war was very difficult for many children in Britain, as their lives were turned almost upside down by all the changes. The entire experience was very frightening and hard to live with. However, even in the middle of the war, children still played games and lived their lives as best they could.
This is an original news article © The Kids Window
One in a series of articles about British history, see our range of children's historical costumes.