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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Calmness & courage

Kath Garner delves into the memories of friends who lived through the Second World War as children and can recall the stoical mothers of Britain whose spirits would not be broken
A woman and children in an Underground tunnel during the bombing of London in WW2

At 11.15am Sunday, 3 September 1939, the threatened war with Germany became reality. Family life was about to change and the British housewife faced many challenges. Eileen Rennison remembers sitting by the wireless with her family in stunned silence, as Chamberlain declared, ‘This country is at war with Germany’. Although recognising the solemnity, Eileen didn’t fully understand the implications on family life and the necessity for housewives to adapt to new demands on them. Behind the scenes preparations for the threat of invasion had been progressing for years. Housewives stoically rose to the challenge and as war was declared the majority were ready, with fully stocked larders, blackouts in place and a safe shelter area prepared for expected air raid attacks on mainland Britain. Many preparations resulted from Public Information leaflets, distributed to households by the Lord Privy Seal’s Office during July 1939. These leaflets, a single sheet of paper folded double, were packed with useful information and helpful hints. The first, ‘Some things you should know if war should come’, was quickly followed by information on masking windows, evacuation, food rationing and fire precautions.

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About Family Tree

It’s time to dig for victory, see what clues your delving can unearth! Turn the clock back to 1939 with our special issue and discover your family’s story. This month we’re commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of World War 2, and are researching and celebrating our ancestors’ lives from the time. To help you trace your family tree we’ve got: a packed guide to the essential family history records all you need to know about researching family in Second World War and first half of the 20th century and a bumper crop of tips to help you create your own family history home archive – filled with carefully stored photos, stories, notes and treasures. Beginner or expert, there’s plenty to discover and do as your learn more about your family’s story. Enjoy!