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Explain the differing reactions of people in Britain to the policy of evacuating children during the Second World War.

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Introduction

Amy Nickell 27/12/05 The Arts Educational School Explain the differing reactions of people in Britain to the policy of evacuating children during the Second World War. London's evacuations began in September 1939 with the declaration of War and the fear of immediate aerial attacks. Families gathered at the railway stations to send off their little ones. Children with labels tied round there necks stood looking frightened, yet some with a hint of excitement at the unknown, like an exciting holiday was about to commence. Over one million evacuees were sent away like this. The whole process was surprisingly orderly. Mothers were naturally upset but most managed to keep a brave face for the sake of there child. Many others were cautious and tried to explain and warn there children of what they should expect. This was hard for the mothers as the government had tried to be as secretive as possible, leaving mothers with many unanswered questions. Many mothers were so reluctant they did not send there children away at all - only 47% of children initially were evacuated. Evacuation meant different social classes mixing for the first time ever. Much social mismatching went on - and it gave different classes a taste of something they were before ignorant of finding out about. Many attitudes were reluctant to mix with other classes but evacuation forced people to. ...read more.

Middle

One source claimed that after a group of such children were in the town hall the hall had to be 'fumigated afterwards' Often these children would be placed in a family of complete contrast to themselves and would experience a total culture shock. These children would find it very hard to cope with such different standards of behaviour. They would find the new clean atmosphere odd and scary. Many found the contrast tremendously traumatic. Many children experienced a whole new experience they could have only ever dreamt of. Many were showered in love and affection and after the initial shock; a mutual affection and lasting relationship were formed with the new family. Many families gave the children opportunities to experience activities they would never have even heard from in the cities- they would play in the woods and eat fresh food and see real live animals. Some families even took there children to the cinema! These children modified themselves and adapted with ease to there new surroundings. Other children were not so lucky. The absence of a government body to safeguard the welfare of the children meant that some suffered physical and sexual abuse. Many middle class people were extremely prejudiced against the lower classes and would beat them subsequent to this. ...read more.

Conclusion

They found the way of life in the countryside very primitive to what they were used to in the city. One evacuee said how 'having come from a modern house it was like going back in time. The toilet was half way up the garden!' The children in the families could be equally unwelcoming as the parents, or equally welcoming. In most cases unfortunately the children didn't want to see evacuees in there houses. Taking the attentions of there parents and schoolteachers. Many children were horrible to the evacuee and made there lives even worse. Others just ignored the evacuees entirely. The school teachers were prejudiced from the start. They were unwelcoming to the evacuees and sat them in the coldest seat in the classroom. Some priests and holy men insisted to parents the evacuees should return home claiming 'any physical dangers they might incur thereby was trifling compared with he spiritual dangers they ran by remaining'. Ideas and attitudes varied so much it is hard to give any conclusion. But many former evacuees claim evacuation has had a profound effect on there later lives. Many say for the good one man says how he turned from 'a city slicker to a country lover' to which he is to this day. Many were adopted by there foster families and moved perpetually. Others are left with haunting memories and see there evacuation as wasted and lost years of there childhood and memories of rejection. http://www.johndclare.net/wwii4.htm ...read more.

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