Hickling Family During the War

Archive: Yorkshire Film Archive
ID No.: 2951
Title: Hickling Family During the War
Date: 1941
Film-maker: Mr Hickling
Colour: Black & White
Sound: Silent
Duration of complete item: 16min.
Themes: Children in War-time; Home & Family Life


An amateur film which records the Hickling family at home, in Wombwell, near Barnsley, and on holiday during the early years of the Second World War.


The filmmaker’s two daughters, Enid and Valerie stand in their garden. Enid, the elder daughter, has her gas mask box on her shoulder whilst Valerie stands holding hers in her hand. Enid puts her gas mask on and then sets about helping her younger sister fix hers at the back. They then turn to one another and clap.

The film then moves to a residential area where a member of the Home Guard and a woman come out of the back of a house and climb up a muddy bank towards an Anderson air-raid shelter. They both go in then look out up to the sky, he waves as if a plane is going over. He then lies on a mat outside and pretends to aim and fire with a rifle. The film then shows holiday scenes at Blackpool, where Enid and Valerie play together on the beach, making sandcastles and paddling in the sea. The family then visit a local landscaped garden where the girls walk along the paths hand in hand with some soldiers.

Back in Wombwell, the local Home Guard race in a donkey derby. One man rides back to front on the donkey and nearly falls off. Others ride along, all avoiding the jumping fences that have been set out as they are too big for the donkeys to jump. The film closes with a family trip to see some of the sights in London.


The government began making precautionary preparations to deal with poisonous gas attacks well before the war, and started issuing gas masks to the public in 1938. During the war, children and adults were required to carry their gas masks with them and to regularly practice wearing them. Sequences such as in this film, where the Hickling family daughters try on their gas masks, illustrate how the effects of war were intruding on the lives of the youngest members of the family.

Other aspects of the war's impact on family and community life can be witnessed in this film, including the use of Anderson shelters, and Home Guard social activities.

The Hickling family films span from 1940-1948 and capture life in and around the village of Wombwell near Barnsley and family holidays in both Blackpool and Scarborough.


Hickling Family During the War (1941)

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