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British youngsters ignorant of history

Aug. 5, 2004 at 5:40 PM

LONDON, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A BBC poll finds many British young people have trouble distinguishing fiction from history.

The Daily Telegraph reports fewer than half of the youngsters surveyed could identify Sir Francis Drake, the 16th century buccaneer who defeated the Spanish Armada. A number of respondents gave the victory to Gandalf, the fictional wizard of "Lord of the Rings" or to Horatio Hornblower, who was at least a naval officer, albeit one who spent his entire career in a series of novels on the Napoleonic Wars.

Almost a third, 31 percent, did not remember the Battle of Britain, the epic air war against German bombers, was part of World War II.

And an overwhelming majority did not realize the annual celebrations by Protestants in Northern Ireland mark the anniversary of the defeat of the Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1689. Fifteen percent said the marches and bonfires each July celebrate victory at Helm's Deep, a battle in "The Lord of the Rings."

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