Wednesday, September 28, 2016

When did small boys stop refighting the Second World War?

Phil Aisthorpe writes on Liberal Democrat Voice:
The EU referendum was decided by the baby boomers, the generation to which I belong and a generation that has spent a lifetime romanticising about a conflict in which it had little or no involvement. I spent my boyhood immersed in the glory of World War II.
'Baby boomer" is now used too widely and I am not sure I see cause and effect here.

But it is true that in the 1960s I spent many primary school playtimes refighting Word War II. Whenever we played war we knew the enemy was the Germans.

That is certainly not the case now. Schools are not keen on playing war and I even here stories of ones that are not that keen on playtime.

So when did things change?


Tim (Kalyr) said...

I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and playing World War 2 was still a thing then. It's something I and my peers had grown out of by our teens, though.

Cowboys and Indians was a thing too; it was the heydey of TV westerns.

Anonymous said...

Great post Jonathan.

We were still playing wargames in the playground in the early 1980s. We learned our German from the 'Commando War Stories' comic books.

I remember going to West Germany on holiday in the mid-1980s and being told by my parents not to take my toy soldiers as they may cause offence. So I went into a toy shop in Cologne and bought a large packed of WW2 soldiers - German, British and American...

Andrew Chamberlain said...

I remember playing at soldiers most playtimes in the late '80s and early '90s. The Germans were always the baddies. Between that, Airfix models, polystyrene WW2 gliders and Commando comics, the war was a pretty much omnipresent feature of my childhood more than forty years after the event.

Phil Beesley said...

Don't forget the influence of public libraries with shelves full of WW2 books. Every schoolboy who dreamed of flying read Douglas Bader's _Reach for the Sky_. And the film and TV industries created new myths.

I have never met anyone who fought in WW2 who wanted to talk about it. Veterans have talked with me all night about dancing to big band swing or saving coupons for a special purchase, but vital things were left unmentioned.
US baby boomer: a child born in the period following WW2 who would have been a young adult in the 1960s or early 1970s before the oil crisis.
UK baby boomer: post war rationing and housing shortages meant that most couples could not afford a large family; UK baby boom was late 1950s to mid 1960s IIRC; UK baby boomers became adults with Prime Minister Thatcher and mainland IRA terrorism.