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In the early years of the Second World War large numbersof British people were evacuated from their homes - Explain the reactions of the British people to the evacuation policies of their government.

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Introduction

In the early years of the Second World War large numbers of British people were evacuated from their homes. Explain the reactions of the British people to the evacuation policies of their government. It is impossible to generalise the reactions of the British people to the evacuation policies of their government, as there was a great diversity of reaction. Therefore it would be sensible to look at all areas of society involved in the evacuation policy so that I can obtain a more accurate outlook of different peoples' reactions to the government's plans. In the early years of war many children, teachers and expectant mothers left their homes and families so to ensure their safety, they were received in reception areas by host families. These are the main groups of people mainly involved in evacuation as well as some minor groups such as the government and the Women's Institute. It is possible to simplify the reactions of each group in society, however this would be rather vague as not all the people in each group would reply to the governments policies in exactly the same ways. The government kept the evacuation scheme secret, as they didn't want to panic the British people thus creating problems at both evacuated areas and reception areas. Bulletin officers were not told how many evacuees were arriving in each reception area and so host families were unaware of the amount of evacuees they were taking in. Every station expecting evacuees received more than originally anticipated. This triggered negative feelings amongst host families from the beginning as either they had made much effort in vain so that they could take evacuees in who never arrived in the reception areas, or they were unprepared to care for the amount of evacuees they were unexpectedly faced with. ...read more.

Middle

However others were overcome with excitement at the possibility of seeing green grass and farm animals for the first time. The very young children of World War Two didn't react to the government's plans, as they were too infantile to understand. However older children who understood were definitely affected by the scheme. It would have certainly been very discouraging, as it seemed to some they were venturing of into the unknown and it was less easy for parents to persuade older evacuees that it was 'an adventure'. The reactions of the evacuees to the system evidentially altered with age, therefore evacuation may have seemed very different to how it actually was to those involved as their point of view will have changed as they aged and so it is necessary to look at sources written by the evacuees at the time. There were those who saw evacuation as an opportunity to 'get away' from their own families, perhaps because they were unhappy, also an only child might like the idea of evacuation so to have more company elsewhere. Therefore to some, evacuation brought about the expectation of companionship. Evacuees who went to a family with either their brother or sister probably found it easier to settle in and adapt to their new surroundings and in turn made there stay much happier. This was also the case if evacuees went with their mothers or their schools, as they would feel less homesick, or at least they would recognise a friendly face once in a while. Quite a few evacuees settled into their homes very quickly and this is evident in many of the sources written at the time. Evacuation abroad was very costly and wasn't funded by the government so it was occasionally done by children from either the middle ...read more.

Conclusion

We can now gather that not all parents accepted evacuation as fully as the government had anticipated. As almost all evacuation happened with the school a lot of teachers were involved in evacuation and for them it was probably very hard. Few enjoyed having to deal with the children's emotions and being left completely in charge, although in some ways this made the teachers more aware of the evacuation situation. Parents laid much of their trust in the teachers, therefore many felt as though they would not live up to the parents expectations and that the government was demanding too much of them. The teachers were also asked to write reports on the children's hosts' families so to prevent incidents (that did in fact occur) such as abuse or children labour. However, occasionally teachers did not tell the truth of the matter and made up reports so not to worry the evacuees' families and the government. The government was also affected by their evacuation conspiracy. This was because many things that went wrong in evacuation were blamed on the government themselves. The Women's Institute (or WI) was a minor group of people who were affected by evacuation. These were usually upper-class country housewives whose response was closely linked to their social status. Many claimed the evacuees were 'filthy. We had never seen so many verminous children lacking any knowledge or clean habits." This suggests that these women were not used to children who were not able to afford to be clean. Therefore I can conclude that the British reaction to the government's policy differed greatly and almost entirely depended on their circumstances. However, not all people in a certain group of people reacted in the same manner because each individual person held their own opinions. ...read more.

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