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

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Introduction

Why did the Government decide to evacuate children in Britain's major cities in the early years of the Second World War? When World War Two broke out in 1939, the British Government's major worry were the air attacks by the German airforce, the Luftwaffe. They immediately went into action setting up the evacuation of children, pregnant women and women with children under 5. These plans were very well organised and thought through as the ARP committee began discussing the possibility of evacuating civilians as early as 1924. The evacuees were taken by trains or coaches to 'neutral areas' that the Government believed would be safe, as there was no real threat of air raid attacks on them. The air raid threats frightened the British Government. A well respected military advisor, Liddle Hart, shocked them when he predicted that there would be 250,000 deaths of civilians in the first few weeks of the war. Britain still remembered the Zepplin raids on London in the First World War that killed 14,000 civilians. However, since then technology had improved and so had the German airforce. The world had already winessed the devistating effects on Spanish towns in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 courtesy of the Luftwaffe. ...read more.

Middle

Source A is a picture from a newspaper in London in September 1939. The children are all walking sensibly down the pavement accompanied by teachers. Source B is an interview with a teacher who stayed with a class who were evacuated. She said that the train was ready when they got to the station which shows that it was organised. However, sources A and B also contradict the statement that evacuation was successful.Source A was quite possibly used for propaganda purposes as the children are happy and smiling. This was to encourage parents to send their children away on an 'adventure holiday' where they would be safe and healthy. This means that there must of been an unwillingness by parents to send thier children. In source B the teacher says that the children who she took were very quite, and quite obviously afraid of the whole situation. She also says that the mothers were upset and so if they wanted to walk to the station with the children they had to follow behind. This is so they did not upset them. After arrival at the billeting centre the organised process disintergrated. Children were almost 'auctioned off' as volenters came in to pick which children they wanted. ...read more.

Conclusion

Most foster families were reluctant to take in evacuees as they were very wary about disease. They thought them to be poor and uneducated. There is an example of this in source C which is an extract from the book 'Carrie's War'.When the lady that Carrie and her brother are staying with believe them to be poor as they did not have any slippers in their luggage when really they just did not pack any. The whole experience for the children, being sent away from their parents for years and staying with people who were often hostile towards them and abused them, has scarred them for life. In source F, a video about evacuees remembering their experiences, one lady suffers from panic attacks that she puts down to her traumatic experience of being evacuated. In conclusion I mainly disagree with the statement "evacuation was a great success". In was a success in saving children's lives but in doing so it has caused great traumatic pain for the ones who lived. I do not believe that the Government, if faced with the same threat of air raids, would evacuate the children in the same way as they did in World War Two. They would have to completely rethink the way in which it was organised so as not to cause the emotional damage that many adults have today due to the evacuation in Britain. ...read more.

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