How did children help the war effort?

Girls harvesting cabbages Food was scarce during World War One. These girls are harvesting cabbages grown at their school
A girl putting a poster on a brick wall Girls did many jobs on the home front, this girl is posting a recruitment poster on the side of a building

Related Stories

Girls and boys were expected to do different work to help with the war effort. Girls knitted socks and scarves to keep the British soldiers (nicknamed Tommies) warm in the trenches.

They worked on vegetable patches and on farms too, digging and weeding. They gathered fruit and other things to eat at harvest time.

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

A film from the Ministry of Information asked people to save the bones from their meat. The film said bones could be used to help make munitions and girls helped with the collection.

Girl Guides

A group of Girl Guides during World War One Girl Guides helped with a variety of important work during World War One

Secret agents

Some reports say that Girl Guides carried messages for MI5, the British Secret Service, during the war years.

The story goes that Boy Scouts were MI5's first choice for this work, but they turned out to be too naughty and too talkative!

Britain's secret agents turned to the Girl Guides for help instead.

Girl Guides carried important messages and helped deliver milk. Guides also parcelled up clothing, such as knitwear, to be sent to soldiers at the Front.

Guides learned first aid so they could help with injuries. Guides in Scotland collected sphagnum moss, which was used to cover and treat war wounds.

One 1917 newsreel shows Girl Guides marching in the street. Another shows them learning to send messages using small flags. The film goes on to show Girl Guides learning how to use a stretcher to carry an injured person.

Teachers' notes

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

More on This Story

Related Stories

School Radio: WW1

Around the BBC

Around the web

  • IWM logoImperial War Museums

    Find out more about the IWM's plans for the centenary


  • First World War Centenary logoFirst World War Centenary

    The latest news, events and projects surrounding the commemoration


  • TES logoTES

    Discover a range of World War One teaching resources


  • WW1C LogoWW1C

    An Open Educational Resource supporting new directions in teaching World War One


  • Football Remembers logoBritish Council

    WW1 resources produced in partnership with the FA, Premier League and Football League.


  • Never Such Innocence logoNever Such Innocence

    Commemorate and learn more about WW1 through poetry, art and music


Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.