Children's lives

Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

The War brought many changes to the lives of children in Britain. Education suffered due to frequent air raids, evacuation, nights raids and lack of teaching staff.   Surviving school log books provide a insight into how they coped under enormous pressure.   Many mention the intensity of the bombing and that their schools were closed on and off.  Attendance was only made compulsory once a school had a shelter.  On one day, the children of Leggatts School in Watford spent six hours in a shelter before lessons even started.  Many school buildings were either damaged or requisitioned for war use, causing a shortage of suitable places to conduct lessons.

Children going into a shelter at Watford, 1940
HALS (ref WatGrv 0165-00-13)
On 3 Oct 1940, the Head of Shephall School near Stevenage wrote in the log book "The siren sounded again at 11.15, certain parents have insisted their children be allowed home. A German bomber crossed the village flying low enough for markings to be seen and proceeding at a great rate. Children not home were terribly alarmed and dashed back to the school, where of course the doors were already closed. The air man would have had an easy opportunity to machine-gun these children had he so desired".
HALS (ref Hertfordshire Mercury 11 Oct 1940)
Some entries from school log books
INSTITUTION BOMBED - Children and staff had a lucky escape when Cell Barnes, a hospital in Albans for children with learning difficulties was bombed in September. Apart from cuts from flying glass, there were no casualties. Buildings were damaged and the bomb left a massive crater, 60ft wide
HALS (Herts Advertiser 27 Sep 1940)
Letter of thanks from the Matron of Cell Barnes, Olive Ashwood, to the authorities for their help
HALS (HM2/A3/40)
Welwyn ARP notice, 1940
HALS (ref DE/X792/48)
This page was added on 09/07/2020.

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