History KS2: Britain declares war on Germany

This short film offers an overview of the events that led to Britain declaring war on Germany in 1939.

We hear from an eye-witness called Moya, who recalls practicing being evacuated and being issued with a gas mask the year before war was declared.

Moya’s account of her childhood should be particularly interesting for children of the same age.

The ‘Did You Know’ section looks at how people prepared for war.

Created in partnership with Imperial War Museums.


Teacher Notes

This short film contains a number of great starting points for writing:

  • Your pupils could write a diary entry from the point of view of a British child during the war.
  • They could write their own announcement informing the country that Britain is at war.
  • Your class could prepare a newspaper article for the day after war was announced.
Statement by the Prime Minister, BBC Home Service, Sunday 3 September 1939, 11:15

These were the words Neville Chamberlain, who was UK Prime Minister at the time, spoke when announcing the war:

  • “I am speaking to you from the cabinet room at 10 Downing Street. This morning the British ambassador in Berlin handed the German government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.”


Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at Key Stage 2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 2nd Level in Scotland.

The First News, BBC National Programme, Friday 1 September 1939, 18:00. Image: Nazi forces enter Poland. Image © Library of Congress

More from World War Two:

Rationing in the UK
Geography of World War Two
How propaganda was used during World War Two
The Blitz
The Battle of Britain and beyond
Machines of the military
Codebreaking during World War Two
VE Day