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War history still a mystery to many

Britain's war history is a mystery to the nation's younger generations, with many unaware of the meaning of events such as D-Day or VE Day, according to a poll.

It suggests that some young people are only aware of certain conflicts and military events due to watching programmes or films about them.

The survey, commissioned by Universal Pictures in support of the Royal British Legion, asked around 2,000 18 to 35-year-olds about their knowledge of major wars and campaigns.

It found that more than eight in 10 (80.54%) said that they did not think they knew as much as they should about the nation's war history.

The vast majority had heard of the First and Second World Wars (82.78% and 84.98% respectively), but many were unsure about more recent conflicts, with 38.77% saying they were aware of the conflict in Bosnia, 36.93% aware of the conflict in Kosovo and 34.33% saying they had heard of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Just over half (52.45%) knew that D-Day marks the day of the Normandy landings, with over a fifth (21.66%) suggesting that it marks the end of the Great War.

And half (50.10%) correctly said that VE - Victory in Europe - Day, marks the end of the Second World War in Europe.

One in four of those surveyed (24.3%) did not know that the First World War began in 1914 and ended in 1918, while a fifth (20.26%) did not know that the Second World War lasted from 1939 to 1945.

Almost half (44.96%) said that most of their knowledge of Britain's military history came from school, while 13.17% said they got most of their information from the internet and 15.32% got it from TV programmes.

Around 16.47% said that there were certain wars or military events that they were only aware of due to film or TV, with a further 49.75% saying they may have learnt about a conflict in this way.

The Royal British Legion's director of fundraising, Charles Byrne, said: "We know Remembrance is widely observed throughout the UK by all age groups, and with this year's 70th commemorations of D-Day and the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, we hope more young people will be engaged by key events in military history.

"Encouragingly, a lot of young people say their knowledge of military history comes from school, and we know the Legion's free school pack on Remembrance and History reaches two million young people in the UK every year. We can also see that conflicts shown in TV and films make a big impact so would encourage everyone to pick up a DVD in this special range."

:: The OnePoll survey of 2,000 18-35-year-olds was commissioned to mark the launch of a range of DVDs in support of the Royal British Legion. The poll was carried out between April 28 and May 1.

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