The World Wars The World Wars

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'Lest we forget' This year sees the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme (1st July - 18 November 1916). This was one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, as the British and French armies engaged the Germans in a devasting battle of attrition, leaving over one million dead and wounded on all sides.In commemoration there are a number of newly published books which bring the true human cost of this terrible event to life, and you will find them at the top of this selection of World War Literature. In 2014 it was 100 years since WW1 began and even though there are now no people alive today who experienced it first-hand, its impact on the world is still apparent today. WW1 soldier Over the next 4 years a lot of books will be published for children, and WW1 will appear more prominently in the school curriculum, so we will be selecting our favourites, both fiction and non-fiction. We hope it will inspire children never to forget the sacrifices made by their forbears. Last year was the 70th Anniversary of the end of WW2 and we are still living with its consequences.

World War One, WW1, The Great War, 1914-1918, was on a scale previously unknown. Millions of lives were lost and vast areas of land destroyed. It was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, on 28th June 1914, in Sarajevo.

ww1 medals

The first World War paved the way for major economic, political and social change and the map of Europe was redrawn. In Britain the labour and suffrage movements grew in strength and support. Our Royal family cut ties with their German ancestry and took the new name of the House of Windsor.

ww1 poppy

After the armistice on 11 November 1918 The League of Nations was formed with the aim of ensuring such a terrible conflict would never again occur. But with battle-weakened countries unable to defend themselves and rise of fascism, the world was at war once again in 1939.

cenotaph london

World War II (WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War (after the recent Great War), was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries.

The Second World War began when Hitler, the leader of the German Nazi party, invaded Poland. Britain and France declared War on Germany two days later.
In 1940 Winston Churchill, generally recognised as our greatest wartime leader, had become Prime Minister. Following the German invasion of France large numbers of Allied soldiers were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk across the English Channel, and the German Blitzkrieg began against northern Europe and by 1941 British cities were being targeted by the German Luftwaffe. British success in the Battle of Britain prevented Germany from gaining air superiority and forced Hitler to postpone plans to invade Britain but the Blitz bombing continued. Civilians built bomb-shelters, Anderson Shelters, in their gardens or communal areas and in London the people sheltered in Underground stations. Many children were evacuated from cities to the country to keep them safe.

By 1942 the US had entered the War following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. The Germans had invaded Russia but their surrender at Stalingrad marked the first major defeat for the Germans. D Day in 1944 marked the start of the Allied offensive against German troops in Europe as thousands of soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy with support from the air from over 1300 RAF planes. Russian troops continued their advancement in Eastern Europe and began liberating prisoners in camps including Auschwitz. When the Russians reached Berlin Hitler committed suicide and Germany surrendered on the 7th May 1945. After atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan's surrender followed.

World War II altered the political alignment and social structure of the world. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts.


Barrington Stoke, the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers, has launched a special new website dedicated to literacy and World War One. Reading War is packed with rich content relating to the themes of two Barrington Stoke titles, Over the Line and Tilly’s Promise, with videos, teachers’ guides and stories, diaries and other reading materials created specially for the site. See for more.