Past in pictures: When children helped keep Britain fed

By Sarah Orme, 22 August 2017 - 12:56pm

During the Second World War, with German submarines preventing ships from getting through, Britain had to grow more of its own food than ever.

Children were often put to work in helping with the harvest, replacing men who were away fighting.

That doesn't mean they didn't have fun, as these pictures show...

Little girls go blackberrying

Caravan holidays in the 1930s
These three youngsters are blackberrying in the Paddocks Wood area of Kent in 1943. Blackberry picking was a great way of sourcing extra food during the war, but it looks as though these little girls have eaten more than they’ve gathered! (Reg Speller/ Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

Tractor-driving teenagers

Young women camping in the 1920s
Thirteen-year-old Jean Forster is photographed driving a tractor in August 1941 as she harvests 150 acres of corn. Jean had been brought up on a farm so she was used to manual work. (Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

Gathering nuts

Young boys whose holidays have been paid for by the local scout group
Boys from Pixie Hill Camp School, Watford, display the conkers they’ve collected for animal feed in 1942. (Harry Shepherd/ Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

Picking rosehips for syrup

A man collects water from a stream on a camping trip in North Wales in the 1930s
The Ministry of Health encouraged the harvest of rosehips due to their high vitamin C content. Children were paid 3d for every pound of fruit collected during the war. (Maeers/ Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

Digging for victory

Workhouse children
Three young boys help to dig up potatoes on a farm in North Devon in 1941. (Reg Speller/ Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

Helping with the harvest


R Dyke leads a horse with a cart full of corn in Cranbrook in Kent, at the Bishop of Rochester's harvesting camp, August 1943. (Reg Speller/ Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

Cabbages at school

Young women hang up lanterns for a festival while camping near Loch Lomond in Scotland
Girls harvest cabbages at Lingfield Central School, on the border between Kent and Sussex, August 1941. The school was self-supporting, with its own wheat field, vegetable patch and livestock. (Planet News Archive/ SSPL/ Getty Images)

Tending tomatoes

Young women eat their breakfast outdoors on a camping trip in 1931
An evacuee tends to the tomato plants in the vegetable plot at Elmbridge Camp School, July 1942. (Harry Shepherd/ Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

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