Britain declared war on Germany on the 3rd September, 1939.  The country had been expecting war and many preparations had been made leading up to this day.


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A gas mask was given to every person in the country before the outbreak of war.

In the basic mask, pieces of charcoal and cottonwool were put inside a filter. The filter would let the clean air through but not the harmful gas.

There were several types of gas masks. For instance there was one like a bag that a baby could fit into.  There was also a gas mask for children. It had big round eyes and a nose piece .  It was said to be like Mickey Mouse.


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There was a law  that everyone had to carry their gas masks everywhere they went. Children took them to school and out to play.  Adults carried them too.       


Throughout the war they were never needed as no gas bombs were ever dropped.



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One of the preparations for the war was the BLACK-OUT. This was when people had to cover their windows with either black material or black paint. No light was to escape from inside the houses. The government ordered this so that  no cities would light up like targets for German planes to drop their bombs on. Outside the homes there were also rules. All the street lights were turned off. The lamposts were painted with white stripes and the sides of the kerbs were also painted.   This helped people get around in the dark. Still there were many accidents in the black-out.


All the lights on cars had to have special shields over their lights so that only a small amount of light pointed down towards the ground.


A blackout warden patrolled the street to make sure that everything was blacked out.   If you did not obey the blackout rules, you could be fined.





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The Anderson Shelter was given to people with gardens. The Government supplied the materials and the people were responsible for building it themselves. It was made of corrugated iron and had to be dug into the ground. Earth was then put over it for extra protection. People often grew vegetables on top of the shelter in the earth there. It was about the size of an average garden shed. Inside it was usually damp, smelly  and uncomfortable. People who did not have gardens might have a Morrison Shelter in their front room.

Morrison Shelters were introduced in 1941.  They looked like tables but were very strong.   They had a large metal block on top and wire fence around the sides. These shelters often survived even if a bomb hit the house. Often people sheltering under them were dug out unharmed from amongst the rubble of their house.

In the cities, people would use the public shelters.  They were usually in a park.  A siren told the people that an air-raid was about to happen and they would rush into the shelters. In London, the people even used the underground stations as unofficial air-raid shelters.

(Taryn, Sarah, Nadyne)



The first school children were evacuated on the 1st September, 1939 - the day Germany invaded Poland. 

Children were not forced to leave home but their parents were advised to send them out of the cities. The children were taken from the cities because these were most likely to be bombed.  They were sent to safer areas. Foster parents in these areas were usually only to willing to welcome them into their homes.

Children were sent from Dundee to Arbroath.  St Thomas School had thirty or forty evacuees on its roll during the early years of the war. Some only stayed a few months before returning home.  Homesickness and the fact that no bombing started was the main reason for this short stay.

Copy of warevacuee.jpg (9233 bytes) The evacuee would have with them -
  • a  gasmask in its case
  • an identity label
  • a bag or pillowcase to carry a change of clothes
  • some food for the day





Some of the stories that the children heard from older friends and relatives who lived during the war.

Evacuation to Stirling  (by Rebecca)

My gran was evacuated in September 1939 to Stirling. She was evacuated with her two brothers, John and Gordon. My gran was eleven, John was nine and Gordon was six.

My gran's mum and dad told her she would be evacuated because of war. My gran's parents heard that evacuation would be happening on the wireless.

At Eglinton Street Station in Glasgow, hundreds of children and their parents were waiting for the train to arrive. My gran felt more excited than sad. She was wearing a skirt and a jumper. On her jumper was her identification tag and around her neck was her gas mask.

When they arrived in Stirling she waited for someone to choose her and her brothers. They felt like orphans waiting there.

My gran's foster parents were the Minister of St Columbus Church of Scotland and his wife. The Minister already had three evacuees - one boy and two girls. The Reverend had a very big house called the Manse. They had a housekeeper called Jeanne. My gran really liked her because she was really nice to all the evacuees. All the children had to call her Miss. My gran was one of the lucky ones.

Most of the weekends my gran's parents came down to visit. If they couldn't manage they would send my gran and her brothers a five-shilling postal order, to go to the cinema. Since my gran was the oldest, she got to go home for Christmas once.

My gran's father worked on the railways so he sometimes got privilege tickets. That's how they could visit my gran. My gran's father also worked as a blackout warden. He had volunteered for that job.

My Gran's Evacuation during the War  by  Kerri-Ann

My gran was evacuated when she was aged five. She remembers being on the train and feeling homesick.  She hated going away.

She was evacuated on two occasions.  The first time she was evacuated she was sent to Crieff.  When she was there, she lived in a small house. Her cousin was with her. The second time she was evacuated she was sent to Kircudbrightshire.  This time she stayed in a large house.  The people there had a car and she thought she was very lucky.

She did not get to see her parents very much because they were always busy.  Her mum worked in a munitions factory and her dad was in the army.

Evacuation to St Bosmonds  (Mary Ann)

In 1939 I was evacuated to St Bosmonds.  I remember it quite well.   I was 13 years of age at the time.  It was Autumn and quite windy.  We did not have to wear our school uniform.  It was not a very sad occasion for me because I was already away from home living in a type of boarding school.  I had come to St Bosmonds from the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh.  This was not my first visit to the country because I had stayed in the country before going off to Edinburgh.

When we got there, we were told we were to be staying in Earl Haig's House.  I stayed there for only three months though my school was to stay there for three years.  I was one of the older children and that was the reason I stayed for such a short time.  Lots of younger children were brought and it was the older ones who were sent back to the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh.

Evacuation to Aberdeenshire    (Aunt Charlotte - by Catherine)

I was thirty years of age in 1939 when I was evacuated with three of my children to Aberdeenshire. Their names were Isa, Robert and Charles. I was very upset that day because I had to leave a fourth child behind with my mother.  Her name was Maisie and she was suffering from diphtheria.  My mother looked after her in Glasgow until she was better.  Then she was sent to live with relatives in Arbroath.  She was to stay with them for seven years.

I remember it being very cold on the train journey to Aberdeenshire.  I remember wearing a blue and white checked dress, a white hat with a ribbon on it, a mackintosh raincoat and black shoes. My daughter Isa was dressed like me. My two sons wore short trousers, thin shirts, woollen jumpers and flat caps. 

When we arrived in Aberdeenshire, we were made very welcome. We were on a farm with an elderly couple and some farm workers.  They told us to use the house as if it was our own. My children were taught how to muck out the animals and feed them.  My job was to collect the eggs from the hens.  The children liked the horses on the farm best of all.

I made a good friend called Margaret.  She lived on the neighbouring farm and she still sends cards and letters to me.  We stayed on the farm for nearly seven years and it was very difficult to go back to Glasgow.  My children loved the farm so much that they did not want to return to the city to our family and friends.

Memories of the War   (told to Kevin)

During the Second World War I was an evacuee from Dundee.  I was evacuated to Arbroath and I went to the old St Thomas School.  I remember that three of my sisters were evacuated with me.   They were Helen, Mary and Jessie.  The family I was living with were very nice.  They had a teenage son and daughter called David and Dorothy.  David and Dorothy's mum and dad were called Nelly and David Barnett.  I was upset of course to leave my mum behind but the Barnetts were good to us.  I remember arriving that day and being introduced to the family and being given a drink of juice and a biscuit.

Evacuation in Europe as well  (Gran - by Julie)

I was living in Holland but was evacuated to a prisoner of war camp in Germany.  At that time I was eleven years old.  One of my brothers was evacuated with me. I remember on the journey wondering what was to become of us and what it would be like.

I hated it.  I sewed all day for the Germans.  We got very little to eat. I remember the noises scaring me - gun shots and bombs.  I missed my family very much. Then I was told that my mum had been killed by a bomb and I cried and cried for weeks.

When the war finished, I was sent home.  When I got home and saw my dad, it was the happiest day of my life.

Evacuees Coming to Stay  (told to Paul)

I was twelve years old and the year was 1942.  I was living in Arbroath at the time and attending St Thomas School.   One day I remember being very excited because my gran had told me that she was expecting some evacuees. She said two children were coming to stay with us from Dundee.  

When they came, it turned out to be one boy and one girl. The boy was eight and the girl was nine. They were friendly and I enjoyed having them with us.  However they did not stay very long - I think it was only about seven months.  they left and went back home because there was no bombing

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Much of our food is imported from other countries.   During the war it became difficult to bring food into this country by ship.   The German Navy used submarines to bomb any ships coming towards Britain. Because of this, many foodstuffs were in short supply. So that everyone would get a fair share, the Government gave each person a Ration Book. They had to register with a grocer and a butcher and then they always had to go there to buy their food.  When they went to shop, they had to hand over the ration book.  The shopkeeper sold them their food, took their money and cut the coupons out of their book to show they had had their share of food for that week. Copy of warrationbk.jpg (10372 bytes)
Copy of warwklyration.jpg (7960 bytes) A weekly allowance  was set for each person.  This changed throughout the war but here are some examples of the amounts that were allowed -
Milk - 3 pints Margarine - 4 oz. Sugar - 8 oz. Tea - 2 oz.
Cheese - 4 oz. Cooking fat - 2 oz. One Egg Bacon - 4oz.
Meat to the value of 1/2d  (one shilling and twopence ) Sweets - 3oz.


Cut and Paste Exercise on Rationing


Dig For Victory

During the war the governement tried to encourage people to grow their own vegetables.  Posters were seen everywhere starring
Potato Pete and Doctor Carrot!

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Potatoes new, potatoes old,
Potato (in a salad) cold,
Potatoes baked or mashed or fried,
Potatoes whole, potato pied,
Enjoy them all including chips,
Remembering spuds don't come in ships!

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Click to see more War Posters


Housewives had to make their allowances go as far as possible. 
They had to invent new recipes to use what ingredients they had.

Here are some

Mock Crab
  • 1/2 oz margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 oz cheese
  • 1 dessert spoon salad dressing
  • few drops vinegar
  • salt and pepper
Method -

Melt the margarine in a saucepan. Add the well beaten eggs.scramble until half set and then add the other ingredients.

Serve as a sandwich filling       or

Serve on mashed potatoes or toast

Copy of warcake.jpg (9394 bytes) Crumb Sponge

As nuts were unavailable it was recommended that crisp breadcrumbs be used instead to give a nutty texture to sponges.

Potato Pancakes
  • 1 lb. mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 1b cooked carrots
  • milk
  • salt and pepper
Method -

Whip mashed potatoes to a loose, creamy consistency with a little milk.Season ell with salt and pepper.  Add diced, cooked carrots.

Pan fry slowly in very little fat until crisp and brown.

Cheese Soup
  • 2 table spoons of chopped onion or leek
  • 2 oz. of margarine
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup of grated cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Method -

Add onion and margarine to milk and water, bring to the boil. Cook for 15 minutes stirring all the time. Blend flour with a little milk, stir in and cook for a few minutes to thicken. Add cheese and seasoning, stir until cheese is melted but do not boil again. Add parsley and serve very hot.

(Taryn, Sarah, Julie, Gavin)  


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by Karen
I stand here looking - the horror all around - lonely, wondering why.  What's happened?
I look around at the people just as devastated as I.  I see their white shocked faces.
People crying, weeping, wailing, shouting. They are scared and angry people.
I stand here looking at these mournful, crying faces surrounded by splintered wood.
Damaged buildings, smashed and burning, wrecked and ruined - what a disaster.
Searching for lost relatives and friends.
Wardens helping, comforting and administering first aid.
I stand here looking at people who have kept their spirits high.
Now is the time to be brave and work as a team.
I stand here looking - the horror all around - wondering why.



Victory - Let's Celebrate!

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by Karen



Set of   PHOTOS    on The Home Front



Blitz and Battle of Britain cut and paste exercise

Pearl Harbour
D Day Weblinks