Koalas Experience WW2 at Downs Junior School

Written by Koalas:

We visited Downs Junior School this week where we were lucky enough to hear about rationing, gas masks and air-raid shelters from people who actually lived through the war years. They told us some amazing personal stories of courage, disaster, luck and hope.

We went into the school’s air raid shelters (under their playground) to find out what it must have been like to be down there during an air-raid. Our thoughts are that it would have been “frightening, cramped, dark, scary and boring”! However, knowing that it wasn’t real, it was quite exciting!

We learnt all about the building of the shelters, including the ones at st Luke’s, and loved all the information that the volunteers at Downs had put up all around their tunnels.

Our favourite facts are:

  • The tunnels were built in a figure of 8 (with lots of corners) because bombs can’t travel around corners so the damage and casualties would have been less.
  • Children wore colourful gas masks called Mickey Mouse gas masks (in America they even had ears!)
  • Damaged houses were repaired at no cost to the homeowner but if the damage was too bad the house was made safe, boarded up and you had to move out.
  • The first thing to be rationed was petrol.
  • Lots of places in Brighton were bombed (we looked at a map of all the bombsites) especially the places that looked like empty fields but they were where the Canadian troops were based.
  • Children would fill sandbags to help the war effort.
  • Tape was put on windows to prevent glass from shattering.