Young are clueless over facts of the First World War, poll finds


Young people are largely ignorant about the First World War with almost two thirds not being able to name the year that the war ended, a poll has found.

And more than half (54%) of the same age group did not know when the war started (1914), according to the research from thinktank British Future.

But it is not just young people who are confused about the facts.

When asked by pollsters YouGov, members of the public hazarded guesses as wildly out as 1800 and 1950 for the start of the Great War, and 1910 and 1960 for the end date (1918).

One in three of the public could not name the year that the war started.

The best informed age group were the over 60s.

"We've found that it's not just kids, but their parents too, who don't know some of the basic facts about World War I, about the thousands of troops from Kenya and India who fought for Britain, and even the year the war started," said Sunder Katwala, director of British Future.

"The centenary (of the war) is a huge opportunity for schools and museums to do more to help our kids and all ages learn more about our nation's history.

"That's why British Future and the Citizenship Foundation hopes to work with schools on how to use 2014 to make history matter.

"Remembrance helps us to learn about our shared history, and that includes people across faith and ethnic backgrounds.

"There's no point in having a shared history if we forget about it."

The poll also found that 12% of 16 and 17 years olds thought that under 10,000 British and Commonwealth military personnel died during the First World War, far less than the 20,000 British deaths on just the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Overall two thirds of the public said they did not know roughly how many British and Commonwealth troops died in the Second World War.

About 1.1 million British and Commonwealth troops died in the war .

British and Commonwealth forces were calculated to have lost 419,654 at the Somme.

The poll was undertaken online in late October and sampled 2,998 people in Great Britain.