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In the early years of the Second World War large numbers of British people were evacuated from their homes. Explain the reactions of the British people to the evacuation policies of the government.

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Introduction

In the early years of the Second World War large numbers of British people were evacuated from their homes. Explain the reactions of the British people to the evacuation policies of the government. On 1st September 1939, the British government introduced its evacuation policy. This policy was to evacuate millions of people in society who were in greatest risk from the German bombing. For evacuation purposes the Government divided the British Isles into three areas: Evacuable- (usually the larger urban cities, London & Birmingham.) Neutral- (as the chance of bombing there was less.) Reception areas- (rural settings thought to be the safest from German air attacks.) Nearly one and a half million people moved in September 1939, most moved within one weekend. However German bombing didn't come when expected due to the 'Phoney War' so nearly half used it as an excuse to come back and later had to be re-evacuated in autumn 1940, when the bombing finally started. People's reactions to the evacuation varied according to their individual status and situation. As about 13 million people lived in the evacuable areas and there was only enough room in the reception areas for 4.8 million people, so only certain groups of people could be moved. ...read more.

Middle

There was a great disadvantage to children not being evacuated as a community or a school since it made the experience that more daunting. As a result of the mis-matches in reception areas, selection was made according to rudimentary principles. Billeting officers simply lined the children up and invited the potential hosts to take their pick. Thus the phrase 'I'll take that one' became etched on the memory of evacuees. This was a traumatic experience for the minors as those that looked unhealthy, poor or dirty were left until the very last. A man remembers him and his sister going through this ordeal 'we were left until the very last. The room was almost empty. I sat on my rucksack and cried.' These children would have felt isolated and lonely, as they did not know their fellow evacuees or their new hosts. They also had the added pressure of making new friendships. However, friendships did form- not only amongst the evacuees from the urban areas but new bonds between the urban and rural children. Each child learnt a new way of life, the city children learnt the ways of the countryside, one child wrote back to his mother 'They call this Spring, Mum, and they have one down here every year.' ...read more.

Conclusion

These are the people that were exposed to the trauma of separation, isolation, the tensions of fear and anger. Most mothers were unaware of where their children were going, what they would be doing and all were wholly ignorant of when they would be coming back. The policy of evacuation also had a long-term effect on the country's development. As most evacuees were children from poor areas taken in by middle- class families, the huge gulf between the social classes was bought into focus and highlighted. Evacuation seems to have played a significant part in shaping the deep- felt desire to create a fairer society when the war was over. The problems that were raised by the evacuations pointed out weaknesses in public conditions and the urban working- classes own living conditions. This provided the incentive for post-war reforms in areas such as national health, housing and adequate supplies of nutritional food. Today as a result of these reforms there is the National Health Service (NHS), new housing full of modern amenities, and today there are excessive amounts of food available for all civilians. By Katie Matthews - 1 - Dunottar School ...read more.

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