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Coursework: Why did the British Government decide to evacuate children from Britain's major cities in the early years of the Second World War?

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Introduction

History Coursework-Evacuation Assignment B: Britain in the Second World War Why did the British Government decide to evacuate children from Britain's major cities in the early years of the Second World War? As soon as war was declared the British government expected the Nazis to launch massive air attacks against Britain with its major cities as the prime targets. Britain knew how disastrous such attacks would be, in both loss of morale and loss of life, after seeing how devastating the bombing raids had been in both Shanghai in 1931 and later in Guernica in 1937 where German planes had been used. To avoid enormous casualty numbers the government planned to evacuate large numbers of children from cities to the countryside for the duration of the war. The British government's greatest fear was that as soon as the air raids started children, as some of the most vulnerable people in the cities, would make up a large percentage of the death toll. To avoid the calamity of losing such a large proportion of the next generation the government decided to remove children and other vulnerable people, such as pregnant women and disabled people, from cities and relocate them to the countryside. ...read more.

Middle

showed the British government the disastrous consequences of leaving children in cities which were almost certainly going to be targets. As well as the fear of air raids the government also expected Germany to make full use of poisonous gas as a weapon. In preparation for these anticipated gas attacks all people living in Britain were issued with gas masks. Another good reason for sending the children away was that it freed up their parents for important war work in munitions factories and other war-related jobs. The government began planning the relocation of "school children, children below school age accompanied by their mothers...and expectant mothers" as early as 1934. As well as removing the most vulnerable people from harm this mass evacuation of children also enabled their mothers to work without having children to worry about thus providing the government with the workforce it needed to replace the male workers who had gone to fight. It also helped the parents to work without distraction knowing that their children were safe in the country. Small-scale evacuations were carried out at the height of the Munich Crisis in September 1938 but the real evacuation began in September 1939. ...read more.

Conclusion

Throughout these various evacuations the government churned out propaganda to try and get more parents to send their children and to get less parents to take them back. They advertised evacuation as a chance to get their children away from the "crippling dislocation of city life". They also advertised for 'foster parents' in Scotland, Wales and the east of England. From the beginning of Operation Pied Piper the government was extremely organised and efficient, communicating with the potential evacuees' parents by bulletins issued through the schools. Evacuation was strictly voluntary so the government issued many posters and leaflets designed to persuade parents to send their children away. The evacuation of children was a genuine effort by the government to protect the vulnerable British citizens in large cities. They based their decision upon expectations of large-scale air raids on cities using bombs and possibly gas. Such ideas had evolved from the first bombing raids in the First World War and seemed borne out by the evidence of the bombing of Guernica and Shanghai. Evacuation seemed to be amply justified for reasons of civilian morale. ?? ?? ?? ?? Katherine Matson ...read more.

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