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'Evacuation was a great success' - Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation? Explain your answer using the sources and knowledge from your studies.

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Introduction

Laura Bowes 10H History Coursework 'Evacuation was a great success.' Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation? Explain your answer using the sources and knowledge from your studies. There are many factors, which contribute to whether or not evacuation was a success. One major factor is the number of lives that were saved due to evacuation. We now know that if evacuation had not taken place, a lot more people would have been killed in the Blitz (only were actually killed). However, we also know that there were cases of abuse ('I had bruises from my neck right down to my ankles on both sides and on my left hip all my clothes were stuck to my hip where it was bleeding' John Abbot) and children being used for slave labour etc because the host families were not checked, and this is obviously a major failure. Evacuation was intended to save lives, nothing else. Nevertheless, there was a lot more to evacuation than intended. For example, the government did not take into account the social impact evacuation would have, or the possibility of long-term trauma for some children. The sources show different experiences and interpretations of evacuation. Taken at face value, source B implies that evacuation was a success because it shows the evacuees in high spirits, as do sources D and H. We know that the government were responsible for producing sources D and H, but source B could have been produced by anyone. ...read more.

Middle

Source E is reinforced by source A. Both sources discuss the stereotypical view of evacuees, which made them quite unpopular in reception areas and made people reluctant to take them into their homes. However, this source is contradicted by source F. This shows that although some evacuees probably did live up to their stereotype, there would also have been a lot that did not. This source is useful for showing us a host's experience, as their point of view is often forgotten, and is also useful for proving that the stereotypical image of an evacuee was not always a myth. Nevertheless, it shows the problems that occurred which were probably due to the lack of planning which took place before evacuation. Source F also shows stereotyping, but tries to turn it around. There is a valid point made in the source that can be backed up by many other sources ('...most evacuees were already clean and disease free.' Martin Parsons and Penny Sterns), not all host families were welcoming and caring. There were cases of abuse and slave labour by the host parents when children were evacuated, so it was not always the evacuees who were the problem. These three sources seem to have the same sort of theme, and because they are all from the same time, it brings into question the motives of the interviewer; we do not know what the interviews were based on, they could have been asking for only negative experiences. ...read more.

Conclusion

This source would be useful for showing why parents objected to evacuating their children and could also help to explain why so many moved back to the danger areas. However, the source is limited because it is only one person's point of view. From this point of view, evacuation was a failure. Britain could have been in a much worse state during and after the war if evacuation had not taken place; the soldier's morale would have been low and many children would have been killed. Many people had good experiences, as shown in source J, which helped them to understand how different people lived and probably made them a bit more mature. On the other hand, people who were abused could have been traumatised for the rest of their lives. Children felt rejected, as shown in source F, and there was so much stereotyping of evacuees that the government were issuing propaganda (sources B, D and H) and host families seemed to be forever complaining about 'dirty evacuees' (sources A, E and G). I do not believe that evacuation was neither a success nor a failure, simply because there were so many different situations that children found themselves. Many of the problems were caused by a lack of host families, which is something the government should have looked into before they started to move children. For example, Wokingham RD was expecting just over 3000 evacuees, but they received almost 6500, which would obviously create a shortage of host families. However, evacuation did save lives, and this was its main intention. ...read more.

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