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Why did Evacuation take place?

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Virginia Edmond-Kent 13/07/03 Evacuation Coursework The summer of 1939 saw children all over Britain being packed off to various countryside sites, they were transported by trains and London busses and were fully equipped with gas masks, name tags and personal belongings. They were being evacuated, the biggest movement of population in peacetime. There were many reasons for this dramatic movement and the need to tear children away from their families. The most important reason for the government to decide to evacuate children from places that were likely to be in danger was the change in warfare. Technology had changed, the invention and the progress of the aeroplane meant that countries at war could bomb each other from the air. The British had seen the effect of air attacks, on newsreels on the Spanish civil war. In 1936 the Spanish civil war broke out, a rebellion of Spanish officers led by General Franco against the Spanish Republican government. Hitler and Mussolini contributed to General Franco's side, believing that it was a fight against communism. The first area to feel the effect of a German bombing raid was Republican Spain, and throughout 1937 German rearmament continued. The British could see that being an island was no longer an advantage against attack. The government's worries are shown in this text: "If we are involved in war, our big cities might be subjected to determined attacks from the air" - Why and How, public information leaflet, July 1939. ...read more.


However, this source may not be as reliable as first thought as the photograph could have been taken with the sole aim to persuade parents to evacuate their children. Another source that suggests that children enjoyed staying with their host families follows: "I am grateful to her for taking us in as it could not have been easy to handle two lively young strangers, and we were warm and comfortable and well fed at all times" -George Knott looking back on his experience, www.holnet.org.uk Many of the children became attached to the members of their host families, sometimes more attached to the 'hosts' than their biological parents. This aspect is portrayed in the fictional film 'Goodnight Mr Tom'. William Beech had come from a very dysfunctional poor family and had suffered much abuse by the hands of his mother thus binding him closely to Mr Tom through the care and comfort shown to him. However, this visual source cannot be fully relied upon, as filmmakers are likely to have made the film more sentimental than real life to gain more interest and money from the film. Some of the comforts experienced by the children were a great surprise. The 'middle class' homes that some evacuees stayed in were positively luxurious in comparison to back home. One description from a child's experience demonstrates in this text: "We were given flannels and toothbrushes. ...read more.


As little as, 2% of householders in Reception areas were willing to except evacuees and only 20% of children in the Evacuation areas were registered to evacuate. Hindsight portrays the number of posters encouraging parents to return their children to evacuation homes with comments such as: "Don't do it mother leave the children where they are." The number of evacuated children never reached the same heights as it did with the initial evacuation on the 1st of September 1940. Hindsight shows that: "By 1944 the evacuation scheme had all but stopped and not even the panic caused by Hitler's flying bombs and rockets could get it started again." Overall it seems evacuation was not such a success as first thought. Initially the process was well planned but in the end could not overcome emotions and family ties. Due to the unforeseen 'phoney war', evacuation was badly timed. As children began to feel homesick, heavy air raids had started. As children started to return home, the danger of shelling became greater. Therefore, the evacuation scheme failed to keep children safe from bombs and air raids. Many would say evacuation was a waste of time and money, but people did gain from the process. Children were said to return healthier and better mannered, and the poorer class people were finally noticed and given help from the government. Once many children had returned home the government had no success in encouraging parents to part with their children again and host families rarely wanted them back. ...read more.

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