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Britain's military history a mystery to many young people, survey suggests

By The Citizen  |  Posted: May 18, 2014

By Matt Discombe

The survey suggests many young people feel they don't know enough about their military history

The survey suggests many young people feel they don't know enough about their military history

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BRITAIN’S younger generations are unaware of major events in the nation’s military history, according to a poll.

It suggests many young people are unaware of the meaning of events such as D-Day or VE Day, and are only aware of certain conflicts and military events due to watching programmes or films about them.

The survey, commissioned by Universal Pictures in support of the Royal British Legion, asked around 2,000 18 to 35 year olds about their knowledge of major wars and campaigns.

It found that more than one in eight felt they did not know enough about the nation’s war history, and many were unsure about more recent conflicts.

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Over 80 per cent said they new about the First and Second World Wars, but fewer than four in 10 knew about recent conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Soldier of Gloucestershire Museum’s Graham Gordon, who co-ordinates the museum’s educational sessions in schools across the county, said: “It’s very important that young people know about the military history of the country, because it had a massive impact, both in Europe but also to families in Gloucestershire.

“These young men made an enormous sacrifice for our country, and everyone should know what they did for all of us.”

Just over half of those surveyed knew that D-Day marks the day of the Normandy landings, but over a fifth suggested that it marks the end of the Great War.

One in four did not know that the First World War began in 1914 and ended in 1918, while a fifth

did not know that the SecondWorld War lasted from 1939 to 1945.

Almost half said that most of their knowledge of Britain's military history came from school, while 13 per cent said they got most of their information from the internet and 15 per cent got it from TV programmes.

The Royal British Legion's director of fundraising, Charles Byrne, said: "We know Remembrance is widely observed throughout the UK by all age groups, and with this year's 70th commemorations of D-Day and the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, we hope more young people will be engaged by key events in military history.”

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  • RoadWombat  |  May 18 2014, 10:27PM

    Well, there's good reasons for that, isn't there? In this politically-correct climate, World War Two is nothing but holocaust and "evil Nazis" whilst World War One is just mud, war poetry on the Western Front. "Oh What A Lovely War", Blackadder and those bloomin' war poets have a great deal to answer for!

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