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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

History Coursework - Evacuation (Question 2B) "Evacuation was a great success." Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation? Explain your answer using the sources and knowledge from your studies. Evacuation was introduced in World War 2 because the British government thought that people would be safer away from the cities where heavy bombing was expected. The war was officially declared in September 1939, but the British government had been working on their war plans since 1936, giving three vital years of preparation. Included in these war plans was the process of evacuation. The British government had three years to make sure that the whole process went smoothly, which they used to their advantage. The country's entire transport system was taken over solely for the purpose of evacuation for four days, which demonstrates how well organised the evacuation campaign was. However when the expected bombing failed to materialise many children returned from the countryside to their homes in the cities. Even though mothers were strongly advised to leave their children where they were, for some the temptation was too strong. A second wave of evacuation was required when the blitzkrieg, or blitz, began in September 1940. I believe that evacuation was at its most successful at the start of the war mainly thanks to how well the British government had prepared and that it again proved successful when British cities were places of real danger in the blitz itself. The photograph of children being evacuated in September 1939 (Source A) ...read more.

Middle

The sources therefore show that the success of evacuation varied at an individual level, with some children not being evacuated because of their parent's reluctance and others being sent to live with people that wanted them as a free maid or farm hand. For some foster-parents, evacuation was a blessing for the reasons mentioned previously. It all depended on who you were chosen to live with and why your foster-parents had agreed to look after you. There is evidence like Source A that shows that some children were looking forward to being evacuated, but this could have been because they didn't really understand what was happening to them. This could also have been because the lucky children, who had relatives in the countryside, knew who they were going to be situated with and had no reason to dislike those people, having met them before. Of course, their views could and in many cases would change once they were settled with their foster-families. There is also always the possibility that a source may not be reliable, as is the case with Source B. The source is a recollection of events by one person and so that person's memories may not be accurate. However, evacuation is such an emotional experience that many people did not forget and the teacher's reminiscences might therefore be totally reliable and accurate. The extract from "Carrie's War", a novel (Source C) demonstrates the problems that some evacuated children were likely to face. Many evacuees were met with the unfair assumption that because they were from the city, they were poor, as is the case with Miss Evans in the source. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was definitely a good thing as they managed to organise the whole evacuation scheme before war was officially declared. For example, they dedicated the country's transport system solely to the purpose of evacuation for four whole days. I believe that this alone makes the campaign a success in its organisation. At an individual level, some children may have only been taken in to be a maid or farm-hand but surely that's better than being blown to pieces by a German bomb? There were people that evacuation did great favours for; Source F is a prime example. Although Goodnight Mr. Tom is a fictitious film, it is still worth considering basing an opinion on. There are true stories in which evacuation was highly beneficial for both the evacuee and the foster-parent and the film represents these extremely well. It has been argued that evacuation could not be seen as a great success because of the fact that children returned home during the phoney war - I disagree. There was a second wave of evacuation once the blitz started and all of the children that'd come home could be re-evacuated. This would obviously not be an ideal solution but it was a solution nonetheless. Yes, children were separated from their families for a while but they escaped with their lives, something which would never have happened without evacuation - The death toll would have been so much higher. Without evacuation, far more people would have been killed during World War 2. Individual cases of unhappiness are inevitable and in response to the question, I agree that evacuation was a great success, without it Britain would not be where she is today. Alistair Heeley 11T ...read more.

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