British Children in World War II: Play


Figure 1.--This is the game board for "Night Raiders", a British game about bombing Gemany. Given the illustration of the bomber, this game must have been maid early in the War. There is no indication that Germany is the target--only a non-descript enemy factory. Of course this presents a major misunderstanding of the air war. Specific factories were hard go hit during the day, bombing at night it was impossible. The only thing the British could hit were cities and even then they sometimes missed..

Many children’s toys and games had a wartime theme. There were model kits about British aircraft and jigsaw puzzles when assembled had showed a picture about the war. There was a playing card game called ‘Evacuation.’ This was based on the game called ‘Happy Families.’ Some toys were home-made by adults for children to play with. These were wooden and metal toys as well as cuddly toys depicting military personnel Books and comics were available for children to read but publication was limited to a quota system. Biggles books were popular reading by boys. The Beano was a popular comic but some comics ceased publication when they could not obtain paper. Outside children enjoyed street games. Those in the countryside had plenty of space to play while those in the town found bomb-sites good places to play. However there were dangers from objects found while playing. Some of these were unexploded devices killed the children who picked up the object. There were dangers at the seaside from mines, which children found. This was a danger came when beaches were opened again for bathing after the War had finished. Many boys collected debris from downed aircraft or looked for shrapnel and other war-time artefacts. Traditional celebrations such as Mayday were still celebrated by communities and children and adults took part in parades and festive activities. Holidays to the seaside occurred but many children found they could not play on the beach or swim in the sea because barred wire defences had been built. The lucky ones found places to bathe and enjoy seaside places.

Toys

Many children’s toys had a wartime theme. There were model kits about British aircraft and jigsaw puzzles when assembled had showed pictures about the war. We note jigswas of the Union Jack, a Spitfire pilot, and a flight formation. There was the Epics of the War jigsaws. Some toys were home-made by adults for children to play with. These were wooden and metal toys as well as cuddly toys depicting military personnel. Rag dolls were popular. Other toys included home made Farm machinery. POWs made toys for children. One Italian POW made a rocking horse. There was a cube game about flag recognition called "Allied Flag Puzzle".

Games

Several games with war thems were roduced. There was a playing card game called ‘Evacuation'. This was based on the game called ‘Happy Families'. Other card games included Submarine Hunt and Battle of the River Plate. There was an ARP Snakes and Ladders game. An air war game was "Night Raider'. This was based on RAF Bomber Command's night time bombing raids on Germany. It was played with dice and counters. You throw dice and move the number of spaces shown on the dice. Here is the game board (figure 1). The payer wins who reaches target first. This game seems primarily based on the difficulties experienced by bomber crews in reaching targets. We note a German bombing game--Bombers Over England premissed on gaining ponts by destroying cities. There was an aAeroplane shooting game. It is based on five aeroplanes flying in formation and attached to a scenic background. Tey are shot by means of a gun firing elastic bands.

Books and Comics

Books and comics were available for children to read but publication was limited to a quota system. Biggles books were popular reading by boys. The Beano was a popular comic but some comics ceased publication when they could not obtain paper.

Play

Outside children enjoyed street games. Those in the countryside had plenty of space to play while those in the town found bomb-sites good places to play. However there were dangers from objects found while playing. Some of these were unexploded devices killed the children who picked up the object. There were dangers at the seaside from mines, which children found. This was a danger came when beaches were opened again for bathing after the War had finished. Many boys collected debris from downed aircraft or looked for shrapnel and other war-time artefacts.

Celebrations

Traditional celebrations such as Mayday were still celebrated by communities and children and adults took part in parades and festive activities. Holidays to the seaside occurred but many children found they could not play on the beach or swim in the sea because barred wire defences had been built. The lucky ones found places to bathe and enjoy seaside places.

Sources

Gardiner, Julier. The Children's War (Portrait: London, 2005).






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Created: 7:39 PM 8/27/2007
Last updated: 7:39 PM 8/27/2007