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What Were The Differing Reactions In Britain To The Policy Of Evacuating Children During The Second World War?

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Introduction

What Were The Differing Reactions In Britain To The Policy Of Evacuating Children During The Second World War? During the Second World War people's attitudes and reactions towards evacuation changed. There were both positive and negative experiences for the three main groups I am going to discuss, the evacuated children, their parents and their foster parents. For the children at the beginning of the Second World War, Evacuation was looked upon as one big adventure, and the children treated it rather like a childish game. Their opinions however began to chance, for on the 3rd September many children were evacuated, most were sent to the countryside in the hope that they would be safe from the expected bombs and gas attacks. The evacuation was arranged via the schools and whole classes, even whole schools were evacuated together. Many of the children evacuated really did believe it was an exciting adventure and good to get out of the city and see parts of Britain that they would never normally get the chance to see and explore. " My young sister and I were evacuated to Ipswich on the first of September 1939. I can't really remember the preparations but I do remember being on the train at Ilford Station and arriving in Ipswich. We were actually quite excited, I can remember my sister saying she was desperate to explore and see more of our country. We were taken to a church hall I think and then were allowed to have some of the goodies out of the bag we had all been given!! (I remember there were custard cream biscuits and a tin of corned beef and I think some chocolate but what else I've forgotten although I do remember the brown paper carrier bag it was in!) It was all made out to be rather exhilarating and as if it was just a day out, that would last a few weeks.... ...read more.

Middle

"At the end of August 1939, we were told to pack suitcases for the children and prepare for their evacuation from London. I had five children. Joan (13) and John (11) the two oldest reported to their schools for the trip into the unknown. I took the younger ones, Eileen (9), Leslie (7) and Margaret (5), to their school. They had name tickets pinned to their coats and carried their boxed gas masks on a string around their necks. There was a long line of buses ready to take them away and the police on duty, told us to turn our backs, so as not to upset the children if we could not hold back the tears. We had no idea where they were to be taken and it was a most dreadful feeling, losing my five children in one day. I had no idea where they were going, or what they were going to do. I felt as if this may be the last time I was going to see them... as if we were going to be separated for life..." This source taken from a Mother, Lillian Roberts, demonstrates the stress and torture the parents were put through in evacuating their children. So many of them decided to keep their children at home under their supervision rather than under a stranger. As the news spread that Germany had defeated France, some parents thought that Britain could be next in line for vicious attacks so decided to evacuate their children. However not all thought this was the case, and some decided to keep their children at home. During the "Phoney War" period, parents who hadn't evacuated their children seemed to have made the right decision, and parents who had evacuated their children were calling them back. So the attitude of parents who had sent their children away changed once they realised that no attacks were imminent and their children would be just as safe at home. ...read more.

Conclusion

For reasons such as this, when the war ended, some foster parents decided that they wanted to adopt their evacuee, whereas others were glad to see the back of the children they had fostered because they had destroyed their homes with their bad habits and poor manners. The reactions and attitudes of the Foster Parents during the Second World War therefore depended purely on the child they fostered. If they received a child with poor hygiene, bad manners and from a poorer lifestyle, evacuation was not always a pleasant experience for them, and they frowned upon it. Whereas the foster parents who inherited nice, clean, well mannered children, enjoyed their experience and even ended up gaining a new family member, after adopting them, resulting in them believing evacuation was a good idea. Out of every possible category involved in the evacuation process throughout the Second World War, there is only one that supported the whole idea all the way, and this was the organizer of evacuation, the government. This is due to they knew what was best for the country and for morale which was vital in boosting the chances of winning the war, also they knew it was best by it would reduce death count which was also vital. The groups I discussed all had very different reactions to evacuation throughout the war, swaying their opinions. The government rather rashly announced the end of official evacuation on 7th September 1944, the day before the first V.2 rocket fell on London, but even these new attacks failed to halt the steady return to the cities, which reached its peak during the autumn of 1944' One after another from September onwards the former danger districts were proclaimed 'go home' areas, until by the end of the year only Hull and London were not yet considered safe. Their turn finally came on 2nd May 1945, six days before the European war ended, but it was to be nearly another year before the evacuation scheme was officially wound up. Few, it must be acknowledged, mourned its end. ...read more.

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