WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE FOR CHILDREN DURING WORLD WAR ONE?
World War One began in the summer of 1914. At this time in Britain, there were just over five million children in primary school; children only had go to school, by law, from age 5 to 12. Only half of children stayed in school after that, so many got jobs to support their families in their teen years.
With so many men leaving the country to fight in the war, factories were left short-staffed. Of particular importance were factories making items for the war. As the minimum age to join the army was 18, many children aged 12-17 opted to work in these factories.
Although the fighting took place overseas, it still had a big impact on children’s lives. Britain did not grow enough food to support its population and relied on imports, which were severely affected by the war. There were shortages and eventually rationing was introduced. To lend a hand, lots of schools dug up their playgrounds or fields and planted vegetables.
Girls were encouraged to spend school hours knitting warm items for the soldiers on the front. In schools situated close to military camps they even mended uniforms.
For some children and young people, working and hearing rumours of the front line was not enough; some were determined to be there and serve their country, despite it being illegal for them to do so. Jack Cornwell is one of those young men we will be remembering this November.