Last updated: 25 May 2017
Me in 1943 aged fourteen
WW2 in Europe started on 3 September 1939 when I was ten years old and lasted until 8 May 1945 (VE Day) when I was almost sixteen years old. I was a schoolboy during those war years and did not serve in the armed forces. These pages contain my recollections of the things that I remember most - and best - during this time. I didn't really understand all of the international events that began to dominate the news in. the late 1930s, but it seemed that we heard more and more about Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Party in Germany with the passing years.
By 1938 it was evident that Hitler would be unrelenting
in his pursuit of European/World domination and 1939
was ushered in with a sense of foreboding. The
Government and most individuals spent much of that year
preparing mentally and physically for the war that it
seemed only a miracle could avert. Important buildings,
statues and edifices were sandbagged in major cities
and air raid trenches were dug in parks.
By this time, few people doubted that we had better be ready for war. Newspapers carried daily reports of increased tensions throughout Europe and the endless diplomatic activities created a mood of grim foreboding. The government issued a series of leaflets to each household the first of which provided an overview of Civil Defence in general and covered Air Raid Precautions (ARP) including use of air raid shelters and gas masks. Other leaflets followed that covered:
An Identity Card system for all civilians was implemented as soon as the war started. Compulsory registration of all citizens and issuance of Identity Cards was required by the National Registration Act of 5 September 1939.
This Act set up a national register, containing details of all citizens:
Identity Card for over 16 years of age civilians (circa 1943) -- front and back -- issued under the National Registration Act of 1939
The data was used by the Government to track the huge numbers of persons who were dislocated due to mass evacuation/essential employment relocation and to provide information essential to implementation of Food Rationing. The compilation of the register data was entrusted to Government registrars in conjunction with local authorities who were responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the information. Each registrant was issued an identity card which contained the holder's registration number, full name(s) and current address. Changes of address had to be recorded by the local registrar. All identity card entries had to be verified and certified (stamped) by a registrar. Identity Cards had to be carried on the person at all times to provide proof of residency and had to be produced on demand by any uniformed Police Officer or member of the Armed Forces/Home Guard on duty.
Britain declared war on Nazi Germany on Sunday, 3 September, 1939 after its invasion of Poland on 1 September.