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What was it like for children in the Second World War?

How did the War affect people's everyday lives?

During the war life changed for everybody, including children. For most children, the war years were a time of anxiety. For many, it was a period of family separation. For some, it was a time of profound personal loss.

Many children had to grow up quickly during wartime. Many children had to look after themselves and younger siblings while their mothers worked.

Un evacuatoEvacuazione

Nearly two million children were evacuated from their homes at the start of World War Two. They were evacuated to the countryside to escape the bombing.

Children had labels attached to them, as though they were parcels. They stood at railway station not knowing where they were going nor if they would be split from brothers and sisters who had gathered with them. They felt scared about being away from their families and had to adjust to new schools and make new friends.

Find out why children were evacuated, and where evacuees were sent on our evacuation page.


Children experienced a restricted diet because of rationing.

Find out what things were rationed, including sweets on our rationing page.

bambiniAir Raids

Children lived in fear from the constant threat of air raids. They spent some nights living in air raid shelters just in case German planes dropped bombs on their houses. Their fears came true during the Blitz. One in ten of the deaths during the Blitz of London from 1940 to 1941 were children.

Maschere antigas

The government thought that children under five would be scared of the maschere antigas so they produced a specially designed Micky Mouse gas mask. It was brightly coloured in red and blue.

Vita scolastica

Children had to take regular gas drills at school. They found these drills hard to take seriously, especially when they discovered blowing through the rubber made 'rude' noises.

The war had an affect on the kind of rhymes children told and the games they played.

Games children played

Games played during the war
How many of the games above do you recognise?

A Wartime diary

Written by one of our students.
We asked our Year 6's to imagine what it was like to be a child during the war and to write a diary as though they were adults reflecting back on their experiences. Read the diary here

Wartime as a child in Bexhill by John S. Spray

Ann FrankAnne Frank and other Jews

Many children and their parents living in countries which had been invaded by the Germans were imprisoned and killed because they were Jewish.

Anne Frank was a German Jewish girl whose family was under attack.

Click here to find out about Anne Frank


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