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Why did the British government decide to evacuate children from Britain's major cities in the early years of the Second World War?

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Habib Saeed History GCSE Coursework Mr. King Task 1 - Evacuation of Children in Britain Question 1 - Why did the British government decide to evacuate children from Britain's major cities in the early years of the Second World War? Prior to and during the Second World War (1939-1941), in Britain, were two evacuations at two different periods in time - both for the same reasons (supposed German invasion), but in different situations. The first period of evacuation took place right from the moment Britain declared war on Germany - meaning the British government had obviously anticipated the forthcoming war and plans had been drawn well before any official declaration of war. However, with no actual warfare between the two countries, by Christmas 1939, parents began recalling their evacuated children to be at home with their families for the festive season. This period became known as the 'Phoney War' - war was expected and declared, yet it never happened. From April to May 1940, Germany put their plans into action and showed monumental strength by overtaking France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway in a swift attack. They now controlled Western Europe, leaving a clear path toward Britain. ...read more.


This awareness came from events in Spain (1936) where a civil war had broken out and the Germans had got involved. What was to follow in Spain, more specifically Guernica (destruction particularly terrible) would haunt those who witnessed it for many years, both first-hand or in cinema. The scenes of this terrible destruction from German aircrafts was shown in cinemas throughout Britain, and the thought-provoking images of dead people or more specifically, children must have played a part in the decision to have children evacuated from Britain's major cities. Another reason was the fact that in the face of imminent warfare, the government was planning its utilization of the British adult population, to put it simply, how they could be of use. Now children were vulnerable, but mainly, useless in terms of contribution to the war effort and with men going to war for their country and women and young-adults working in factories/farms, children would only prove a hindrance to worried parents who would work with the knowledge of their child at 'home' alone. This aspect of sheer vulnerability must have played a part in the government's decision to evacuate the children of Britain with the added concern that even if bombs did not land directly on houses containing children, many buildings would be weakened in their foundations and could have proven a danger (collapsed). ...read more.


Even then though, this reason had some importance in the government's decision - they didn't want to put too much stain on the public because they had other 'war-helping' duties. I think the most important reason for the evacuation of children, from the government's perspective, was the fact that they feared the consequences if children were not evacuated - and there were many consequences. This is a reason which has many links, or should it be put in the British government's eyes many consequences, one being death, death of children in huge quantities, causing anger in the people (parents) of Britain. To see so many dead children would have left people questioning the government's control of Britain under war. Also, mentally, the death of so many children would have lowered spirits and hopes of the possibility of victory over Germany. But the main link is the fact that they were children; the future of the country, the vulnerable, and the innocent - ultimately the government knew with all these reasons combined they all linked to the same thing, the children had to protected through the only way, evacuation. In conclusion, there are of course many reasons into the evacuation of children from Britain's major cities but overall more than enough to amount to what the British government felt was the right decision. ...read more.

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