How did children help the war effort?

A boy scout with a bicycle collecting a message from a soldier Boy scouts helped out with many jobs on the home front, this scout is delivering important messages for the war office
Boy scouts helping to set rabbit traps During World War One food was scarce and these boy scouts are 'doing their bit' by helping to set rabbit traps
A boy scout sounds the alarm on a bugle.

Find out more about scouts keeping watch for Zeppelin attacks

Boys helped with the heavy work on farms, as well as with growing vegetables in gardens, back yards and even parks.

Boy Scouts carried messages for the War Office and guarded important places, such as railway lines, water reservoirs and stretches of coastline. They learned to send semaphore messages with small flags. Scouts watched the skies for Zeppelin attacks and sounded their bugles to signal when an air raid was over.

Defending Britain

Collecting eggs

A poster advertising 'National Egg Day'

Posters encouraged people to collect hen's eggs to feed wounded soldiers. Boys and girls helped with this job, too. Many homes kept chickens during the war, if they had space outside.

Rifle ranges were opened, where boys could learn how to shoot. Boys' Brigades and some schools helped organise them. This was so the boys could help to defend Britain if it was invaded by the German army.

Posters encouraged boys of 15 to join the Navy. The advertisements told boys they could earn three shillings and sixpence a week and get free rations, as well as a free uniform. Many boys from poorer families were tempted to join up. They could earn even more by training to use guns and torpedoes.

You had to be at least 18 to serve in the army, but many young boys lied about their age to join up. The youngest boys who fought in the trenches were in their early teens. George Maher was a 13-year-old soldier who remembered in later years seeing a lad too short to see over the edge of his trench. This boy was just 12 years old and is thought to have been the youngest British soldier to serve during World War One.

Teachers' notes

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

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