The Children’s War

Juliet Gardiner discusses a new exhibition on the experiences of children in the Second World War, which opens at the Imperial War Museum on March 18th.

May 8th, 2005, is the 60th anniversary of VE Day, the end of the war in Europe, a day associated with celebrations and bunting. Most wars end in jubilant victory celebrations. No war produces any winners. During the Second World War probably around 55 million people were killed between 1939 and 1945, and many more died later from the effects of war. ln Britain 60,595 civilians were killed by enemy action, and of that total were 7,736 children under sixteen - approximately one death in every eight - and 7,662 children were seriously wounded. 3,596 British children under eighteen were killed in the armed forces in the Second World War - and eighteen of those were only fourteen years old. Add to this the number of children who lost one or both parents and it is obvious that the so-called ‘people’s war’ was also the ‘children’s war’.

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