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British Evacuation in World War II

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Introduction

Name: Roberto Curati Class: 11S Candidate Number: School: Finchley Catholic High School School Number: 12226 British Evacuation in World War II Q1. Why did the British Government decide to evacuate children from Britain's major cities in the Second World War? Q2. Explain the differing reactions of people in Britain to the policy of evacuating children during the Second World War. Q1 On the 1st September, 1939, the British Government announced its decision to start evacuating children from major cities. This followed the declaration of war and the likelihood of cities being bombed by the Germans. Evacuation seemed to be accepted by the population: in the first 4 days of September 1.5 million people took up the offer to be evacuated and according to the National Archives, almost all had been evacuated from danger areas by the evening of 3rd September even though the Anderson Committee report of July 1938 had established that evacuation would not be compulsory. The primary reason the Government started evacuation was to save lives and, according to City of London Archive information, 'to reduce the chaos and subsequent panic expected to result from massive bombings'. ...read more.

Middle

When the Government implemented the policy of evacuation people had different reactions depending on how it impacted on them personally. The evacuees themselves reacted in different ways. For the younger ones, the prospect of travelling on a train for the first time and visiting a new place was exciting. Talking about her experience before going away, one evacuee said 'I thought it was a Sunday school outing to the seaside.' Older children had mixed feelings. On one hand they were more wary and even frightened about 'the adventure ahead', many realising the implications of what was going on and the possible heavy bombings to come. They were leaving their families, their local communities, their homes and going into the countryside which for most was completely alien. They knew they could be gone for a long time. Conversely they also realised that if they stayed put, their lives were in danger. One child asked her older brother why their mother was crying as they were about to leave the city and he told her to 'Shut up!' This shows how confusing the situation was and how reactions varied greatly. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sometimes the hosts were pleasantly surprised at the behavior of some evacuees. One person I spoke to, whose family took in an evacuee said that her mother was expecting 'terrible things' from city children because of what she had heard, but their evacuee turned out to be 'very well mannered'. Reactions also varied from one Reception Zone to another. The Huntingdonshire Post, in September 1939, had the headline 'HUNTINGDONSHIRE INVADED BY THOUSANDS OF LONDONERS'. This was an area where the arrival of children was not well received. On the other hand the headline for the Yorkshire Post at the same time was 'WIDE OPEN DOORS FOR SOUTHERN EVACUEES: 1600 WARMLY WELCOMED BY THE CITIZENS OF LEEDS'. The reactions of people in Britain to evacuation were varied. I think that the reactions of the parents are most significant as the decision they had to make must have been heart wrenching. They were thrust into the most difficult situation and this was enhanced when there were no bombs at the start of the war. The most lasting effects, however, would have been on the children themselves, many of whom were traumatized by the whole process. Words: 888 ...read more.

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