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The Differing Reactions of People in Britain to the Policy of Evacuating Children in World War II

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Introduction

The Differing Reactions of People in Britain to the Policy of Evacuating Children in World War II It became apparent that in the 1930's, air raids had become a more dominant spectre in the minds of both the government and the public. The widespread fear of mass German bombing since September 1939 had destroyed morale, as well as many families. Therefore, the British government planned for the evacuation of civilians from the more probable target areas of Britain, in an attempt to save them. The country had been divided into zones classified as either 'evacuation', 'neutral' or 'reception'. This allowed priority evacuees to be moved from major urban areas to those more rural. However, as lists of the available housing in the 'reception' areas were compiled, an error was found in that there was not enough housing for everyone. Therefore, the government had to also construct temporary camps. Many people were also sent abroad, as it was considered safer for them, to places as far as 'Canada and America'. Nevertheless, the government began posting letters to those households seen in the greatest danger. Officially being evacuated were children of school age, mothers accompanying young children, pregnant women, disabled people and teachers. However, other prominent groups were also evacuated such as civil servants, art treasures, the Bank of England and the BBC, as a few examples. ...read more.

Middle

As no one kept any official records of where each child had been placed, no one could punish the families for such actions, a great fault in the whole system. This also meant that when it came to returning the children home, many families were not prepared to give up the children they had taken on. One reason for this could have been for the labour, whilst another could have been that a strong relationship amongst the new family meant letting the child go felt impossible. This was common in the case of younger children as they would not remember their previous families. Generally, there was a mixed opinion about the system of evacuation amongst children. Many children had a great experience and had gained much from it, for example new friends. It was these children that when the war came to an end, would have hesitated to leave their new lives but nevertheless, wanted to return to their parents and family in the cities. On the contrary, many children would have been eager to return home as their countryside lives terrified them. For many, it may have been a lower standard of living or for others, the families they were staying with. It is necessary to state that the accounts given of evacuation were greatly influenced by memory. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nevertheless, the thought of living with strangers and not knowing the welfare of your own parents may have been tarnishing for many children, especially those who were older. This may have affected the way they chose to remember the experience, or even how they chose to live it. Initially, many parents did not agree with the policy of evacuation. The thought of not being able to protect their own families scared many people. However, once many children arrived back home after the war, they realised that maybe evacuation wasn't as bad as they thought. Many children came back home healthy, happy and with a life-changing experience. However, for other parents, seeing their children again may have confirmed their worst fears, as they came back miserable and brandished by their time as an evacuee. Also, there were many parents who never saw their children again. Although they had been evacuated, no official records were kept and therefore, many children were not brought back home. Many others involved in the scheme of evacuation were also greatly affected. Those who stayed closely with the children, for example teachers, would have seen the pain of the children without their parents. This may have led them to change their views on the policy. Whilst, those who cared for the children would have only truly understood its effects on their lives once the war was over, when even those who may not have appeared to enjoy it realise what they'd lost. ?? ?? ?? ?? Reena Achall ...read more.

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