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Lord Ashcroft Survey: Most Young People do not Know Battle of Britain was Fought in the Air; Only One in Five Know What Happened on D-Day

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LONDON, June 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Only just over two in five secondary school children know the Battle of Britain was fought in the air, according to a new survey conducted by Lord Ashcroft.

The research also shows that only one third of children know the Second World War began in 1939, while only one in five know what happened on D-Day.

The survey of 1,000 children aged 11 to 18 throughout Britain was commissioned to mark the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London, on 28 June. The Memorial honours the 55,573 men of Bomber Command who lost their lives during the Second World War.

The findings of the survey highlight the importance of ensuring that current and future generations remember the sacrifices made by those who served Britain in time of war.

The survey found:

  • Only 34% of children - including less than half (45%) of those aged 17-18 - knew the Second World War began in 1939. 39% knew it ended in 1945 (again including 45% of 17-18 year-olds).
  • While 92% of children could correctly identify a picture of Churchill the insurance dog, only 62% correctly identified a photo of Sir Winston Churchill.
  • 43% knew the Battle of Britain was fought in the air; 29% said it was fought on land, and 8% at sea. 20% said they did not know.
  • Only one third (34%) correctly said the Battle of Britain took place in the 1940s, and only 11% of these - about one in 27 of the whole sample - knew it happened in 1940.
  • Only a fifth of children had some idea of what happened on D-Day. The most frequent answer was that it was the day the war ended.
  • 86% correctly said there had been two World Wars. One in twenty thought there had been three.
  • Nearly a third (29%) were unable to give any unprompted explanation of why Britain had fought the Second World War. This included more than a fifth (21%) of those aged 17-18 and a quarter of those aged 15-16.
  • 89% correctly named Germany as an adversary in the Second World War. Only 15% named Japan unprompted. Nearly a quarter thought Britain's enemies had included Russia, France, China, the USA, Australia or New Zealand.
  • Only 61% correctly named the USA as an ally of Britain's in the Second World War. One in ten thought our allies had included Italy, Germany or Japan.
  • Offered four different explanations for what Bomber Command is or was, only 36% correctly said it had been part of the RAF.

There was some encouraging news, however: 95% correctly identified the Royal British Legion's poppy, and 84% knew what it signified.

Commenting on the findings, Lord Ashcroft, who made a £1 million donation towards the new Bomber Command Memorial, said:

"It is sobering to find that so many children of secondary school age simply do not know important facts about crucial events in Britain's recent history. My own father fought in D-Day, and I was keen to discover how much today's young people know of what happened just 70 years ago.

"I don't mean to criticise the children. We must all take responsibility for ensuring that what we know is passed to the next generation. These findings show we can never be complacent about our duty to remember.

"One of the ways we can do this is to build lasting memorials to those who have sacrificed so much to serve our country. That is the purpose of the Bomber Command Memorial, which I am proud to support.

"The Memorial is long overdue. Those who flew on countless missions over Nazi Germany and occupied Europe, many of whom were barely out of their teenage years, knew the odds were stacked against them, and many did not return. All of us should be thankful for the sacrifice they made to ensure that we can all live in a free society."

Notes to Editors

  • 1,007 children aged 11 to 18 were interviewed face-to-face between 15 and 23 May 2012. The survey was conducted throughout Great Britain and the results are nationally representative. For full details of the survey please go to http://www.lordashcroftpolls.com.
  • The Bomber Command Memorial is being dedicated and unveiled in Green Park, London, on 28 June 2012. The memorial honours the 55,573 men of Bomber Command who lost their lives during the Second World War.
  • Lord Ashcroft is one of three major benefactors of the Bomber Command Memorial, alongside John Caudwell and Richard Desmond. Further details of the Bomber Command Memorial can be found at http://www.bombercommand.com.  

SUMMARY OF RESULTS

KNOWLEDGE OF WORLD WAR TWO AMONG CHILDREN

SURVEY CONDUCTED BY LORD ASHCROFT: JUNE 2012

1,007 children aged 11 to 18 were interviewed face-to-face between 15 and 23 May 2012. The survey was conducted throughout Great Britain and the results are nationally representative. For full data, please go to lordashcroftpolls.com.

1. I am going to show you some photos of some people you may or may not be familiar with. For each one, please tell me their name. If you don't know it, that's fine.

                             % correctly
                                naming

                 The Queen       100%
                   Jedward       97%
              Wayne Rooney       92%
             Churchill the
             insurance dog       92%
              Adolf Hitler       87%
              Barack Obama       86%
               Katie Price       82%
             David Cameron       77%
               Johnny Depp       75%
            Marilyn Monroe       63%
     Sir Winston Churchill       62%
           Albert Einstein       57%
                Nick Clegg       38%
               Ed Miliband       35%


2. Do you recognise this? What cause or charity does it represent?

                                              % correctly
                                              identifying
                 Royal British Legion -
                      Poppy Appeal                95%
                 Comic Relief - Red Nose          90%
                Help for Heroes wristband         53%
                 Marie Curie Cancer Care
                        daffodil                  39%
                AIDS Awareness/World AIDS
                           Day                    32%


3. Why do you see people wearing Poppies in November each year?  [Unprompted]

      To remember those who died or were injured defending
                                               our country      77%
               To raise money for the Royal British Legion       7%
                                                     Other      10%
                                                Don't know       6%


4. Was the Battle of Britain fought on air, land or sea?                          

           Air    43%
          Land    29%
           Sea    8%
    Don't know    20%


5. In which decade was the Battle of Britain?

         1900s    3%
         1910s    2%
         1920s    5%
         1930s    10%
         1940s    34%
         1950s    2%
         Other    3%
    Don't know    40%


6. And can you tell me in which year?  [All those who correctly named the 1940s]

     1940  11%         1944  17%
     1941  12%         1945  14%
     1942  11%       1946-9   2%
     1943  11%   Don't know  22%


7. How many World Wars have there been?  [Unprompted]

             One    3%
             Two    86%
           Three    5%
    Four or more    1%
      Don't know    5%


8. In which year did the Second World War begin?  [Unprompted]

                                                        1950 or
    Before 1930    1930-38      1939        1940s        after      Don't know
         4%          8%          34%         13%           3%          38%


  • Less than half of respondents aged 17-18 knew that the Second World War began in 1939 (45%).

9. And in which year did it end?  [Unprompted]

         1945       Another year    Don't know
         39%            21%            40%


  • Again, only 45% of those aged 17-18 knew the Second World War ended in 1945.

10. Why did Britain fight the Second World War?


  •                                              To stop the Germans/Hitler  18%
                                   Germany / Hitler invaded other countries  15%
                                     Britain was bombed / to defend Britain  12%
                                            Germany / Hitler invaded Poland  10%
                                    Because of Hitler / Germany / the Nazis   5%
                    Innocent people were being killed / concentration camps   5%
           Germany / Hitler wanted world domination / revenge for World War
                                                                        One   4%
          Other countries went to war against Germany / Hitler, and we were
                                          allies with these other countries   3%
                                                            Hitler was evil   1%
                                                      Germany started a war   1%
                                                        A treaty was broken   1%
                                                                      Other   3%
                                                                 Don't know  29%
    
  • More than a fifth (21%) of those aged 17-18 were unable to give a reason why Britain fought the Second World War. A quarter of those aged 15-16 (25%) were unable to do so.

11. Whom did Britain fight against  in the Second World War? And who else? [Unprompted]

                 Germany        89%
                   Japan        15%
     Russia / The Soviet
                   Union        13%
                   Italy        9%
                  France        6%
                   China        2%
       America / The USA        1%
         Australia / New
                 Zealand        1%
                   Other        4%
    Don't know                  8%


12. Who were Britain's allies  in the Second World War? And who else?  [Unprompted]

       America / The USA        61%
                  France        44%
     Russia / The Soviet
                   Union        13%
         Australia / New
                 Zealand        9%
                   Italy        7%
                   China        2%
                 Germany        2%
                   Japan        1%
                   Other        7%
              Don't know        21%


  • Nearly one in ten (9%) of those in Year 13 (aged 17-18) were unable to name any of Britain's allies in the Second World War. 13% of those in Years 11 and 12 were unable to do so, as were nearly a quarter (23%) of those in Year 10 (aged 14-15).

13.  What happened on D-Day?

              The war was declared over / Germany was defeated / Germany
                                                             surrendered  19%
     Allied forces crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches
                                        of Normandy / France was invaded  16%
                                             A day lots of soldiers died  4%
                         Troops were brought home from the war / rescued  3%
                                                            A big battle  2%
                                        Germany bombed / invaded Britain  1%
                                                                   Other  6%
                                                              Don't know  50%


  • 40% of those aged 17-18 said they didn't know what happened on D-Day.

14.  During the last, just over 400 members of our Armed Forces have died in Afghanistan. How many of the British military do you think died during the six years of the Second World War?

       0 - 1,000            10%
     1,001 - 10,000         20%
    10,000 - 50,000         8%
    50,000 - 100,000        8%
       100,000 -
        500,000             8%
       More than
        500,000             14%
       Don't know           32%


SOURCE www.lordashcroftpolls.com



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