by Mike Brown
Stroud, Eng.: The History Press / Chicago: Trafalgar Square, 2011. Pp. x, 118.
Illus., biblio, index. $17.95 paper. ISBN: 0752458582
A look at the experience of Britain's children during World War II, and the impact of the conflict on childhood.
Brown has written several books on Britain’s “Home Front” during the Second World War. He opens with a reminder that unlike German children, subject to more than six years of Nazi propaganda, in 1939 British children had largely been sheltered from the possibility that war might come, despite the rising tensions in Europe during the late 1930s. Brown then devotes a chapter to the state of childhood in Britain on the eve of the war and the events of “The Day the War Broke Out”, noting that despite appearances, surprisingly detailed planning for civilian defense had been laid. He follows this with a look at the mass evacuation of children from cities to rural areas and even to Canada and one to the experiences of children during the Blitz. Then comes a chapter on educational policies and education during the war, whole schools having been uprooted (children, teachers, administrators, and other staff!) and relocated during the evacuation. Then come chapters addressing the management shortages of goods, clothing, and food and rationing, one on children “Doing Their Bit” for the war effort, and even one on how the war affected children’s toys, games, and holiday observances. A Child’s War is full of statistics and unusual information, from the war's effect on illegitimacy to such things as how to erect a bomb shelter, is very well-illustrated, and often amusing.
A Child’s War
will prove valuable reading for anyone with an interest in the war, and essential reading for students of the effects of war on society.