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%