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Explain the different reactions of the British people to evacuation

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Introduction

Explain the different reactions of the British people to the policy of evacuation When the government ordered the evacuation of British children at the onset of the Second World War, there was a range of responses from the general public. Whether they moved away as individuals or with their whole school community, the changes to everyday life were profound: around a quarter of all Britons were relocated during the first three days of September 1939. The effects of this were felt by many different groups in society; people's reactions and attitudes were often mixed, complex, and - for many - changed as the war went on. Of course, the main reason for evacuation was that the government was worried that major British cities would suffer extensive bombing, with civilian death tolls in London alone estimated at around 4 million. There was sufficient evidence to believe this, too - the Luftwaffe had featured extensively in the Spanish civil war, annihilating towns such as Guernica (made famous by Picasso) with relentless air strikes. Furthermore, in the East, Germany's allies Japan had ruthlessly bombed major Chinese cities such as Nanjing. Logically, parents would have been relieved to allow their children to escape from the potential threat and dangers of city life, however this was frequently not the case. ...read more.

Middle

When the bombing raids did begin, some children were not re-evacuated, remaining instead in the city with their real families. The attitudes of children towards evacuation depended on their personal experiences and personalities. Some simply hated it, but for many others evacuation was a great adventure (many had never left the city, or been in a train). Evacuee Barbara Male remembers how when she left London: "Some of the very small children were crying... [however] when the train left Paddington Station, they brightened up. They soon forgot their troubles, and they were all looking out of the carriage window talking and laughing for all they were worth." Sometimes, siblings were split up. This could be good or bad, depending on whose point of view it was - often younger children would miss their older brother/sister, whereas an older, more independent youth might prefer the freedom. Second World War evacuee Malcolm Lewis recalls how, at the age of five, he was sent to live on a smallholding with an uncle (who he had never met before) when the war began. The place was dirty and little emphasis was placed on comfort; within a month, Lewis had contracted scarlet fever, ringworm, and numerous other maladies. ...read more.

Conclusion

The people they stayed with obviously had opinions too. Many of these stemmed from their initial reasons for taking in evacuees. Some families felt it was their duty, helping the war effort. Some had no choice, while others were encouraged by the financial incentive provided by the government, or some other reason. Irene Griffiths recalls: "My foster parents were quite kind and welcomed me - I think they were really happy to have a senior girl evacuee and I became a useful baby sitter for their only 3 year old son." It was not uncommon for evacuees to be adopted at the end of the war; many never went back to live in the city. Other carers were astonished by lack of manners and uncouth behaviour displayed by some children, however over the course of the war many of these youths who stayed would have been taught manners and politeness, and so learned to co-exist peacefully with their billets. George Knott remembers: "I think our foster mother found us a bit hard to understand with our more worldly ways." Overall, every Briton at the time had a unique experience. There were many factors that influenced how they felt about evacuation, and many of these views were altered throughout the war as circumstances changed and people became more tolerant and adaptable. ?? ?? ?? ?? Christopher Lewis 10/2/07 ...read more.

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