Children In The Second World War
By Amanda Herbert-Davies
This is a collection of first hand accounts of people that were children in WWII in England. It details the normal day to day life of what went on during those horrible experiences and how they dealt with it.
This is a engaging book. You never really think about what it’s like for a child to go through in times of war. personally, I usually wind up reading something about how we won or some analysis of tactics. I found this very humanizing. There are those that are lucky and those that were not. No experience is left out. Some children found it to be exciting and others were immediately horrified. Drills, rationing and shortages, etc. its all covered. I found the chapter on evacuation to be really terrifying. Many kids were sent off away from their families with no knowledge that it would be some time before they came back. As you leave and the time spent waiting to come home is torture; that knowledge that your home and way of life may not be there is horrible. I can not even begin to imagine young children and the trauma of being separated on top of such a horrible time.
The aspects of shortages and the resourcefulness was really interesting. One person’s grandmother spent a lot of time and effort “illegally sieving National Flour through one of her stockings.” Root vegetables were dressed up to taste like items that were unavailable. Mothers would concoct schemes to get maximum amount of coupons to clothe their families. The inventiveness is amazing.
While there are a lot of memories that are dreary, there is a fair amount of levity to this. The things that children play with and how they entertain themselves, I found to be darkly humorous. Also, the courage that many of these people displayed is amazing. You can’t help but feel humbled and thankful for what you have. The writing and flow of this book is really good. All of the stories come together seamlessly.
It was not just the upheaval caused by evacuation and the blitzes that changed a generations childhood, it was how war pervaded every aspect of life. From dodging bombs by bicycle and patrolling the parish with the vicars WW1 pistol, to post air raid naps in school and being carried out of the rubble as the family’s sole survivor, children experienced life in the war zone that was Britain. This reality, the reality of a life spent growing up during the Second World War, is best told through the eyes of the children who experienced it first-hand. Children In the Second World War unites the memories of over two hundred child veterans to tell the tragic and the remarkable stories of life, and of youth, during the war. Each veteran gives a unique insight into a childhood which was unlike any that came before or after. This book poignantly illustrates the presence of death and perseverance in the lives of children through this tumultuous period, each account enlightens and touches the reader; shedding light on what it was really like on the Home front during the Second World War.