Thursday 27 August 2020
  • Home Front
  • Ages 7-9 (KS2)
    Age 9-11 (KS2)

We Were There

CBBC's Ben Shires brings you a Family Mission from IWM's We Were There team. The We Were There team are a group of special volunteers who have witnessed conflict. They volunteer their time to talk to our school and family visitors to the museum, retelling their experiences and true life stories. For this Family Mission we spoke to members of the team who lived through the Second World War.

Mission Briefing

Created during the UK lockdown in Spring 2020.


Your mission this week is to have a go at some 1940s style games or past times and to let us know what you’ve been up to, or what you think of the games our We Were There team told you about. Let us know on social media so we can tell them all how you got on! You’ll find some samples of their games below.

Alan’s rules for “Battleships”

Two children play with a toy battleship
Children made up their own games © IWM D 20619

Alan’s rules for “Battleships”

Minimum of a two player game. Additional players will need to join forces to become a team.

Step 1: Draw out a grid with squares, numbered 1-24 across and A-Z down. It should look a bit like a crossword puzzle chart.

Step 2: Agree how many ships you get each. For example, you can both have a maximum of 5 Battleships, 5 Aircraft carriers, 5 Cruisers, 5 Destroyers and 5 Frigates each.

Step 3: Each player then marks the agreed fleet on the squares. Keep the layout secret!

Mark your fleet using the key below

Then let battle commence! Taking it in turns take 'shots' for example, "A4" or "N6" and thus knock out a Battleship or Frigate. You get 20 goes each (optional) and then see who has been most successful by adding up the scores.


  • B = Battleship (10 points)

  • AC = Aircraft carrier (8 points)

  • C = Cruiser (6 points)

  • D = Destroyer (4 points)

  • F = Frigate (2 points)

Alan's Skipping Rhymes

We Were There volunteer Alan delivers a talk at IWM
Alan from the We Were There team © IWM

Alan's Skipping Rhymes

"There was always a lot of skipping - mass participation, sometimes say six people together on one line, with chanting songs and counting.”

Here’s one of the rhymes:

Sister Susie’s sewing socks for soldiers. How many socks does sister Susie sew

And you keep going until you miss a skip!

Gladys' game of “Cannon”

Gladys, one of IWM's We Were There volunteers
Gladys from the We Were There team © IWM

Gladys' game of “Cannon”

Gladys remembers there being no money so things were made and games were improvised. Sometimes they would play rounders and cricket – but sometimes they didn’t have all the equipment needed so they would make up some games! Like this game she called “Cannon”.

They would use:

  • 3 sticks of firewood
  • A tennis ball

Step 1: Against a wall lean two sticks vertically and the third stick balanced across the top - a bit like a cricket bail.

Step 2: All take it in turns to throw a tennis ball to try and knock the balanced stick off.

Gladys remembers everyone would run for cover while the person who had knocked the bail tried to hit them with the retrieved tennis ball - if hit, you were out! While trying to take cover the other aim for the players was to try and avoid the tennis ball and rebuild the cannon yelling ‘Cannon’ as soon as this was achieved!


Don’t forget to tell us what you think of their games over on social media so we can let our lovely eyewitness team know what you’ve all been up to – they would love to still hear from you all!

BBC Teach

Evacuees from London explore the Devon countryside
Evacuees from London explore the Devon countryside © IWM D 2222

BBC Teach

IWM worked with the BBC to produce a series of short films for KS2 students about the Second World War, featuring our We Were There team. Follow the link below to hear more from them directly about their memories of the Second World War.

Watch the short films

Explore Further

Poster for IWM's learning content Adventures in History: The World's Best Den

The World’s Best Den

Why were air raid shelters needed in the Second World War? Join IWM expert Ngaire as she tells real life stories of how people passed the time—whether they sheltered in their back garden or in underground tunnels.  
Basque refugee children being cared for at Bray Court in England c. 1938.
© IWM HU 33135
Second World War

Growing Up In The Second World War

The Second World War was a time of major upheaval for children in Britain. Over a million were evacuated from towns and cities and had to adjust to separation from family and friends. Here are 11 ways children were affected by the Second World War.
Women Wanted for Evacuation Service poster © IWM (Art.IWM PST 15092)
Women Wanted for Evacuation Service poster © IWM (Art.IWM PST 15092)
Second World War

The Evacuated Children Of The Second World War

Evacuation took place in several waves. The first came on 1 September 1939 - the day Germany invaded Poland and two days before the British declaration of war. Over the course of three days 1.5 million evacuees were sent to rural locations considered to be safe.

Plan your visit

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