World War II 1939 – 1945

World War II broke out in 1939. It affected everybody in Britain.  Men between the ages of 18 and 41 had to fight in the war.  Women had to learn to do jobs that had been done by men before. Thousands of children who lived in cities that were likely to be bombed were moved to safer places. 

During the war many cities, including Aberdeen, were hit by bombs dropped by enemy planes.  Sunnybank primary school in Aberdeen was hit by a bomb. Some small towns were also bombed. Fraserburgh was very heavily bombed. 

People had to do lots of things to protect themselves against bombing. They had to make sure no light could be seen from their windows after dark. There were no street lights. Air raid shelters were built. When enemy planes were coming, a siren was sounded and people had to go to the shelters. These were often in gardens. Everybody was given a gas mask in case poison gas bombs were dropped. They had to be carried everywhere. Children carried them to school. 

Britain imports lots of food and materials from other countries. For example, bananas and cotton do not grow here! Attacks on boats meant that many things could not get to Britain. Factories that were normally used for making clothes had to make parachutes and uniforms. Less food and clothing was available. The government limited what each person could buy so that everybody got a fair share. Everybody had a ration book. They let shopkeepers know how much people were allowed to buy.

Gasmask Air Raid Precautions Booklet

Related Timelines

Events - World War II


Try to find out more about what life was like during World War II. Can you find out what any of your relatives did during the war? Do you know anybody who can remember life during the war? If you do, ask them what it was like. 

Look at the timeline. There is a picture of Dyce Aerodrome. How is it different from the airport today? What things about the picture tell you it was taken during the war?

Think about what it would have been like to grow up during the war. How would your life have been different from the way it is today? What foods do you like that would have been difficult to get? What do you think it would have been like in an air raid shelter? How would you have felt when you heard planes flying overhead?