Last week I started looking at some of our images of children from the Documentary Photographic Archive with the idea of writing about changing times in childhood. There are some great photos illustrating children’s lives and activities in the 20th century.

I am also exploring the photo archive for wartime related photos, particularly the First World War. There are some heartbreakingly young soldiers captured in studio photos, photographed in uniform, a poignant memento for mothers and sweethearts.

Richard Meadows
Richard Meadows, born in 1899 was under age when he signed up to fight. He did survive the First World War and became a clerk.

Children are particularly vulnerable in times of war, a fact that we are constantly reminded of in contemporary news bulletins.
The archive images remind us of the impact of war here at home, especially during the Second World War.

Children at Police Gas School, 1938
Children at Police Gas Mask School,1938

Front Page of 'Caring for the Child Refugees' Booklet, c.1940
Some children arrived as refugees.
Others left the cities as evacuees.

Evacuation of Children: Arriving at London Road Station, 1939

I wonder if this baby has any memory of trying on a gas mask.
Baby with gas mask, 1939
This is one of the most unusual school group photos in the collection.
Manchester City Police, School gas mask drill, 1938

These children’s war time memories are likely to have been a mix of anxiety and adventure as the normal routines of their lives were turned upside down. Bombs and air raid shelters, sirens and rationing, evacuation and family disruption affected them all. Sadly there are children today experiencing the same hardships.
Hopefully they will be able to share in celebrations in the end too.
VJ Day celebrations, 1945
VJ celebrations 1945