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21st Feb 2023

A third of Brits aren’t aware that Churchill was PM during World War II

Jack Peat

Four in ten also don’t know what the Blitz was

A third of Brits have no idea Sir Winston Churchill was Prime Minister during World War II, according to research.

The poll of 2,000 adults found their knowledge of the conflict is lacking – despite 48 per cent believing it’s important ‘everyone’ has a good understanding of this pivotal event.

But 37 per cent have no idea when World War II took place, while 47 per cent don’t know Hitler’s invasion of Poland effectively started it and led to an estimated 35 to 60 million casualties globally.

And 38 per cent are unsure which countries ultimately emerged victorious.

However, the study commissioned to mark the launch of World War II PC game, Company of Heroes 3, found 44 per cent claim to be knowledgeable about the conflict.

Just nine per cent admitted they’re ‘clueless’ on the subject.


The study also found 40 per cent of adults don’t know what the Blitz was – unaware it was a German bombing campaign against the UK which occurred in 1940 and 1941.

And 30 per cent have no idea that an atomic bomb was used on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Further to this, 42 per cent don’t know the Battle of Stalingrad occurred in the former Soviet Union.

While 29 per cent have no idea which country Dunkirk is in, despite the French commune being a key location during the Second World War.

Young adults appear to be especially lacking knowledge on the conflict, as 10 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds believe the Battle of Britain led to start of World War II.

While seven per cent think D-day on the beaches of Normandy did.

And eight per cent believe the Battle of Stalingrad took place in the UK, with nine per cent of the belief Dunkirk is found in Ireland.

“Real hunger” 

David Littman, VP of production at Relic Entertainment, Inc., said: “There is a real hunger across the UK to learn how the Second World War has shaped life as we know it.

“As the number of veterans continues to dwindle, the research highlighted the role that entertainment, such as video games, now plays in educating people about this pivotal moment in history.

“In Company of Heroes 3, we felt a responsibility to deliver a truly authentic experience of warfare, with campaigns in Italy and North Africa set to educate gamers of the incredible sacrifices that were made during World War II.”

Carried out through OnePoll, the study also found more adults have learnt about World War II from documentaries (64 per cent) and films (59 per cent) than school (55 per cent).

While almost the same number of 18 to 24-year-olds know what they know about the conflict from video games as they do from museums (33 per cent compared to 34 per cent).

But 40 per cent of young adults consider entertainment to be the most effective tool for learning about World War II.

And 36 per cent think video games will be used to teach kids about this period in schools by 2030.

Despite 45 per cent of young adults admitting they would like to have a better knowledge of this period, only 35 per cent have ever spoken to family and friends about their own experiences.

Al Murray 

To mark the launch of Company of Heroes 3, its makers have teamed up with comedian and World War II expert, Al Murray, to arrange for redeemable codes for the game to be delivered to one fan by using a specially trained homing pigeon called CoHdy.

During both the First and Second World Wars, the feathered creatures, sometimes called war pigeons, were used to send military messages due to their homing ability, speed, and altitude.

And now, with the help of Birds for Film, which has trained animals for film and TV, this method of communication will be used again – ensuring the games franchise’s ‘biggest fan’ gets their copy first.

Al Murray said: “As someone who is passionate about WWII and a huge fan of the franchise so far, I jumped at the opportunity to help SEGA launch Company of Heroes 3.

“As we have less direct contact with those who experienced the war first-hand, it’s important that we seek other ways to improve our knowledge and prevent the harsh lessons that were learned during the WWII from being forgotten.

“It was a unique experience to create a delivery service using homing pigeons.

“And we must remember that 32 of the feathered animals were awarded medals to recognise everything they endured during the war.”

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