These claims about people of certain ages remembering parts of World War Two are generally incorrect

31 October 2019
What was claimed

The image in the post shows soldiers during World War Two.

Our verdict

The image is from World War One. All of those who served in the conflict died some years before the Brexit vote.

What was claimed

British 65 year-olds in 2019 knew rationing.

Our verdict

Unlikely. Rationing ended in July 1954, the same year most 65 year-olds were born.

What was claimed

British 75 year-olds knew the Luftwaffe

Our verdict

Unlikely. The last air raids on Britain were in 1944, the same year most 75 year-olds were born.

What was claimed

British 90 year-olds knew Panzers.

Our verdict

Correct, today’s 90 year-olds would have remembered panzers though are unlikely to have seen them in combat.

A viral claim that British 65 year-olds in 2019 “knew” rationing, 75 year-olds knew the Luftwaffe, and 90 year-olds knew Panzers, along with a photo of soldiers, has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook. The post refers to the Brexit referendum, saying this is a reminder to “young, naive remain voters” that these elderly people “haven’t “stole” your future, they gave you one” and seems to imply that the people in these age groups played an active role in the Second World War or could recall the events.

However, if that’s the case, the claims made in the post are mostly untrue. 

Firstly, to illustrate claims about the experience of older people today during the Second World War and its aftermath, the claim actually shows an image of soldiers in the First World War. The last surviving veterans of the First World War died some years before the 2016 Brexit referendum though there are still some people alive today who were born before or during the conflict.

Next, the claim that 65 year-olds “knew” rationing is highly unlikely. 65 year-olds in 2019 were born between 1953 and 1954. Food rationing ended in July 1954 meaning today’s 65 year-olds were at most nine months old when rationing ended.

Similarly, today’s 75 year-olds were born between 1943 and 1944. The last Luftwaffe (German air force) raid on Britain was in May 1944. Again, suggesting someone eight months old could remember this or played a role is highly unlikely.

Finally, the claim that 90-year-olds knew panzers (German tanks) is more accurate. Today’s 90 year-olds would have been around 10 or 11 years old when the Second World War started and so all would likely have known panzers in the sense of being aware of their existence. 

Today’s 90 year-olds would have turned 18, the age for military service, between 1946 and 1947 and so were unlikely to have seen panzers in action unless they lied about their age.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.