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Children at War 1914–1918 (Paperback)

WWI P&S History Social History Home Front in WWI 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Victoria Crosses

By Vivien Newman
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 50
ISBN: 9781473821071
Published: 4th September 2019

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For most British readers, the phrase ‘children during the war’ conjures up images of the evacuees of the Second World War. Somehow, surprisingly, the children of the Great War have been largely and unjustifiably overlooked. However, this book takes readers to the heart of the Children’s War 1914-1918.

The age range covered, from birth to 17 years, as well as the richness of children’s own writings and the breadth of English, French and German primary and secondary sources, allows readers to experience wartime childhood and adolescence from multiple, multi-national standpoints. These include: British infants in the nursery; German children at school; French and Belgian youngsters living with the enemy in their occupied homelands; Australian girls and boys knitting socks for General Birdwood, (Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Imperial Force); Girl Guides working for MI5; youthful Ukrainian/Canadians wrongfully interned; German children held as Prisoners of War in Siberia; teenage deckhands on the Lusitania, not to mention the rebellious underage Cossack girl who served throughout the war on the Eastern Front, as well as the youngest living recipient of the VC. At times humorous, at others terrifying, this book totally alters perceptions of what it was like to be young in the First World War.

Readers will marvel at children’s courage, ingenuity, patriotism and pacifism and wholeheartedly agree with the child who stated, ‘What was done to us was wrong'.

Drawing on an impressive list of resources, much of which she translated herself, Newman explores how the first global conflict affected children and young people, many of whom left diaries and accounts of what they experienced. I did not realise there were so many children and young people on board the British Royal Mail and passenger liner “Lusitania” when she was torpedoed and sunk. Those accounts are particularly heart-breaking, as are the accounts of those who were killed, badly injured and/or rendered homeless during the devastating explosion that took place at the munitions factory in Silvertown.

I found a great deal in this book about which I was unaware – I was particularly interested to read accounts written by German children of what life was like for them. All in all this is an excellent book which should be required reading in schools.

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Fascinating Facts of WW1

This terrific book looks at the effect of WW1 on the children who were affected by it. All too often, books about war concentrate on the adults. Vivien's accounts of primary and secondary school children in England, France and Germany are measured and often heartbreaking. A fantastic read.

Books Monthly

...anyone with ancestors who were children during the First World War will find much of interest in this well-written, insightful work.

WDYTYA? Magazine, November 2019 – reviewed by Michelle Higgs, Tracing Your Medical Ancestors

I would definitely recommend this book to others and it’s not your usual war book or memories, it is good to hear the viewpoints from lots of children. The author has written a very thought out book with lots of great research and beautifully written.

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UK Historian

The memoirs of the children give a detailed insight into their lives during the First World War. I found some of the stories so sad... This book gives a different view of what war was like on both sides, and would make a good addition to any book collection.

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Armorama
 Vivien Newman

About Vivien Newman

Viv Newman completed a PhD on women’s First World War poetry and wartime experiences. She now works as an independent researcher, exploring the still many untold aspects of women’s First World War lives.

She regularly speaks on Women in the First World War for groups including Women’s Institute, Rotary, Western Front Association (USA), and at national and international conferences as well as speaking widely on local radio. She is on the judging panel for the annual war poetry competitions organised by “Never Such Innocence”.

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