How did children help the war effort?

The Duchess of Montrose visiting  a group of child gardeners in 1914. 'Growing your own' was important during World War One. Children helped by digging, weeding and cultivating vegetable patches.
Boys scouts working on an allotment during World War One 'Growing your own' was important during World War One. Children helped by digging, weeding and cultivating vegetable patches

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Between 1914 and 1918, everyone was expected to 'do their bit' to help with war work. Many British children were very keen to lend a hand. They wanted to support their fathers and older brothers who were away fighting at the Front.

Young people did many jobs. Around the home they would look after younger brothers and sisters. They helped with housework, carrying water and chopping firewood. They also joined long queues for food in the shops. Food was scarce because German U-Boats (submarines) were sinking the ships bringing supplies to Britain. 'Growing your own' became very important. Children helped dig and weed vegetable patches and worked in the fields at harvest time.

Flag days

Two young women sell badges to an officer on the streets of London 'Flag days' were held to help raise money for wartime projects

'Flag days' were held to make money for all kinds of wartime projects. Children would sell little flags or badges that people could pin to their coats. This raised money for funding the war effort, for example to build warships, or to help wounded soldiers. There was even a Blue Cross fund to help horses hurt in battle.

Children collected other things that would be useful for the war effort, such as blankets, books and magazines. These were sent to the soldiers at the front.

Animals at war

Captain Richardson with his dog in 1914

Find out more about animals at war

Even animals were given war work to do. Horses were sent into battle to carry soldiers, or drag wagons and big guns to the front. Homing pigeons carried paper messages, put into little tubes and strapped to their legs. Dogs guarded important places, carried messages and took first aid supplies out to wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

On the Home Front, elephants were taken out of zoos and sent to pull heavy loads on farms.

Teachers' notes

Teachers' notes to accompany the 'How did children help the war effort' section

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