For Italian immigrants and their families in Edinburgh the Second World War did not signal an abrupt end to their relatively tolerated position in Britain as some have suggested. Rather it dramatically heightened and reinforced feelings of not ‘belonging’. Based on oral history methods, this article explores the impact of the war on the narratives of second and third generation Italians who were children at the time. It also discusses the role and power of communal myths and the relationship of the individual to them. Interviews point to the influence of generation, gender and class within narrative structure of life stories and suggest that existing presentations of the Italian community as a homogeneous unit need to be challenged.