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What was an air raid?

An air raid was an attack by enemy planes dropping bombs. Warning of enemy planes was given by sirens. When people heard the sirens´ wailing sound, they went into air raid shelters.

Big bombs exploded with a loud bang and blew buildings apart. Small bombs called ´incendiaries´ started fires. Firefighters worked bravely to put out the flames. Rescue teams pulled people from fallen buildings. Ambulances took the injured to hospital. When the planes had gone, the sirens sounded the ´All Clear´.

Britain in 1939

At school, children learned about the British Empire, now the Commonwealth. But in 1939 few British children had ever travelled outside Britain. If they had a holiday, most went to the seaside or the country. In a typical family, dad worked while mum looked after the home. Most young people left school at 14, and started work.

Not many people had cars. Most people travelled by bus, train or bike, or walked. Television started in 1936, but very few people had a TV set. Instead families listened to the radio or ´wireless´.

Wartime shopping

There were no supermarkets. You went to different shops for different items. For fruit and vegetables, you went to the greengrocer. For meat, to the butcher. For fish, to the fishmonger. For bread and cakes, to the baker. For groceries such as jam, tea, biscuits and cheese you went to the grocer. Other shops sold clothes, shoes, medicines, newspapers and all the other things people needed to buy.

In most shops, the shopkeeper or shop assistants served customers from behind a counter. Many shops were small family businesses. Most big towns had department stores.

The last battles

6 June 1944 was D-Day, when Allied forces landed in Normandy (France) to begin the liberation of western Europe. Everyone hoped the war would soon be over. However, there were many fierce battles in Europe and in the Pacific war with Japan before the fighting stopped in 1945.

Life was very hard for children in the countries where the last battles were fought. Towns were bombed day and night. Railways and roads were blown up. There was fighting in villages and city streets. There was so little fuel or food that millions of people were cold and starving. Many people became homeless refugees.

                                                                              

For more facts go to

BBC History





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