Back to top

Pre-school children dressed in military body armour for Armed Forces Day

Small child with military body armour being placed on her

Pre-school children dressed in military body armour for Armed Forces Day

Shocking photographs reveal that a Lincolnshire nursery dressed pre-school children in real military body armour to mark Armed Forces Day this week.

The incident took place at the ABC Nursery in Boston, Lincolnshire, where a visiting soldier appears to have invited the pre-school children to try on his body armour and helmet, with the approval of the nursery's management. It happened on Friday (28 June).

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) was made aware of the photographs by a concerned relative. The PPU described the incident as one of the most shocking examples they have seen of everyday militarism in the UK.

Examples of the photos can be found on the PPU's Twitter feed.

The ABC Nursery went so far as to post about the incident on its Facebook page, along with photographs. It is not clear whether parents were consulted about the event.

Meanwhile, other Armed Forces Day events across the UK have again seen primary school aged children invited to handle real weapons, including at the Armed Forces Day National Event in Salisbury, which was sponsored by at least eight arms companies.

The PPU expressed grave concern about child-focused Armed Forces Day events, such as at a school in Hampshire that asked children to wear “camo” fancy dress on Friday. A “free family fun day” in Gillingham on Saturday was sponsored by the multinational arms firm BAE Systems.

PPU members and other peace groups have been handing out leaflets and postcards to challenge Armed Forces Day around the UK.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union, said:

“I felt sick as I looked at these photos. I thought I had got used to seeing pictures of children being militarised, but never before have I seen such young children being treated in this way in Britain. Even by the standards of everyday militarism, this is extreme.

“Children are being given an image of armed force as fun and exciting before they are even old enough to attend school. Children and young people have a right to hear a range of views on war and peace as they grow up, so that they can form their own opinions as they get older. We urgently need procedures in place to protect children from this sort of behaviour.”

Armed Forces Day was introduced in the UK in 2009, following widespread public criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is held on the last Saturday in June. Local authorities, schools and community groups are encouraged to host local events, while the National Event is held in a different town or city each year.

A summary of the Peace Pledge Union’s position on Armed Forces Day can be found in our briefing What's wrong with Armed Forces Day?.