CARE Then and Now: Remembering ‘the forgotten generation’

David Anstis with his mother in Somerset following World War 2

David Anstis, one of the original UK recipients of CARE packages following World War 2, describes his generation as ‘the forgotten generation’ – the generation who grew up in the years of hardship during and after World War 2.

This Remembrance Day, as the world faces the worst refugee crisis since World War 2, we should also recognise that the hardships endured by ‘the forgotten generation’ are still the norm for too many children around the world today.

In an interview with CARE, David said:

The children brought up in the late ’30s and early ’40s are, in a sense, the forgotten generation. You never see them picked out in remembrance days and the like. We had no medals to wear…

“It is my sincere belief that we are the forgotten generation. A generation that endured a lot, separated frequently from families, made to accommodate themselves through a broken down education system in which most of the male teachers had gone to war. No football kit, you couldn’t do this, go there...

“We were in a world of chaos. People came and went, they got married or disappeared, but the children of this generation were forgotten, as it wasn’t an opportunity for heroism.

“People then were treated as objects, they were conscripted, sent to fight, moved from end to end. Mothers were deprived of their children at railway stations, which must have been absolutely heart-rending. We just look at those photos now and think, how quaint, but many of those children bear the scars of that separation.”

Listen to David’s interview on audioboom:

David Anstis video listing on Audioboom

In his interview, David, now aged 81, went on to describe the anticipation and joy he felt at receiving a CARE package in the years after the war:

“We’d wait with baited breath for a British railway wagon to arrive. Then this parcel arrived, which we very much appreciated. It was incredibly packed, no spare spaces… It was so much in contrast with the situation, as it was then, with the rationing that was in some cases worse than during the war. The biggest item was this turkey… it was just so tender and delicious, just what we who had endured the war needed.”

We were grateful, it was a hand across the Atlantic and they were received in the same generous spirit that they were sent.

At a time of great need, people helped each other, says David:

“I don’t think there was any question at the time of not helping the needy. Not a cup of sugar situation, I don’t remember asking for one. But there was definitely, ‘if you haven’t got it, and we have some, we’ll let you have it’.”

Reflecting on the refugee crisis today, David added:

Of course we would send them parcels, and of course we would do the same for them.

Since the Syria crisis began, CARE has assisted more than 1.1 million people in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and inside Syria itself. We are also working to provide CARE packages of food and hygiene items to refugees in Serbia and Croatia.

Laurie Lee, CARE International UK’s Chief Executive said:

“It is estimated that one in 10 of the world’s children is now growing up in a conflict zone. This Remembrance Day should be a reminder that we cannot let these children become the next forgotten generation. Aid agencies like CARE are on the ground, doing what we can, but we can only do so much to relieve the suffering of these children and families in war zones. We urgently call on world leaders to step up efforts to reach lasting peace deals, from Syria to Yemen and South Sudan, to allow another ‘forgotten generation’ a chance of a life free from fear.”


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