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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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Introduction

Joseph Smart, 11:1 Evacuation of Children in Britain Why did the British government decide to evacuate children from Britain's major cities in the early years of the Second World War? As in 1914-18, the strains of war fell on civilians and fighting men alike. But, in the Second World War, the fighting was more widespread, the weapons more deadly, the treatment of conquered people more brutal. There are many reasons why the British government decided to evacuate children from Britain's major cities in the early years of the Second World War. The first plans for evacuation were secretly made in 1934, five years before the Second World War. This was because Germany had started rearming and specifically that it had increased its bomber production. The British government therefore decided to make evacuation plans because of the German threat. After the Munich Conference of 1938, war seemed to be unavoidable and the government made detailed plans for evacuation. The aim of the British was to evacuate all school children, teachers, pregnant women and mothers of pre-school children and also to evacuate the blind and disabled to the rural areas of Britain so that they would be far safer from the threat of bombing. Also in 1938, British intelligence had predicted that German bombers would kill 600,000 civilians. The figure was, in fact, ten times less at just 60,000, although this is still a very significant number. ...read more.

Middle

Other reasons would be that keeping people in the cities would not only cost lives, but also military resources by looking after civilian casualties. Also, with more casualties, this would have affected the morale of the public. Joseph Smart, 11:1 Explain the differing reactions of the British people to the policy of evacuating children in the Second World War? For many children evacuating was a terrifying experience, as thoughts would have been running through their minds such as where were they going? If they ever returned, would their homes be demolished or their parents killed. The actual evacuation process itself was often a fiasco too as when the evacuees reached the reception areas there were many problems. Quite often things were not very organised. For example, villages expecting young children would receive hundreds of pregnant women instead. In other places, the villagers inspected the evacuees and picked out the ones they wanted, leaving behind any they though might be more difficult to look after than the next one. The German aim was to bomb was to bomb the British people into surrender. The British government realised this and knew that morale had to be kept high during this very difficult time. Newspapers were not allowed to show pictures of mutilated bodies and smashed houses. Instead, they were full of reports and photographs concentrated on the heroism if the rescue services and everyone's determination to carry on as normally as possible and working together in good humour. ...read more.

Conclusion

They were not given the luxuries they were used to receiving at home, whereas the working class who went to similar places would have felt they were been treated as royalty. There were some parents who called their children to come back home to the city during times of e.g. The Phoney War or those that did simply not send them away in the first place. These people did appear to have a lack of understanding concerning evacuation and the lethal threat they were putting on their children who were powerless and could not have a say on the matter. The majority of the population thought this the wrong thing to do but there was still a small proportion that continued to do it. Many of the civil defence workers, ARP warden's etc. were often only part time workers and had other jobs. A lot of the workers were women too, with one sixth of ARP wardens being female. The bravery of these people to help with casualties raised the morale amongst people in the city and even created a good sense of camaraderie. Those that stayed would usually shelter in their own homes (such as under the stairs or in the basement or cellar) if there was an air raid, but also would shelter in their home shelters, public shelters and even underground stations, as many Londoners would buy platform tickets for the London Underground and then camp in the station for the evening. ...read more.

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