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The idea of evacuation came about following the end of WW1.

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As soon as the war was declared in 1939, around 1.5 million people, mainly school children, were moved from areas at high risk of bombing: big cities, industrial areas, ports, villages and towns near to airfields. The evacuation had been well organised but was not without flaws. The idea of evacuation came about following the end of WW1. The Germans made 103 air raids on Britain during WW1, killing over 1,400 and injuring almost 4000. While civilian losses were relatively small compared to the massacres taking place in the trenches; they had a huge impact on the general public, who found themselves in the front line for the first time. After the Spanish Civil war, Britain became anxious. A number of estimates were taken into account, concerning the effects of the war on the country itself. Estimates on bombing grew steadily erratic as the war approached. In 1924, it was believed that in the first twenty-four hours of any new war, three hundred tonnes of high explosives would be dropped on Britain, more than had been dropped in the entire WW1. ...read more.


What of the government in Westminster? It will be swept away by an avalanche of terror. The enemy will dictate his terms which will be grasped by a straw, like a drowning man." - The Darkest hour by B. Hilton In 1939 a Civil Defence Act was passed which granted emergency powers to local governments in wartime. Their responsibilities included the organisation of evacuees, from procedure, to their respective carers. Civilians had now become legitimate targets, so the government felt a responsibility to evacuate those vulnerable in society, i.e. the poor inner city civilians. Targeted by the government for three main reasons: i. They lived in areas most likely to be bombed ii. They would be less able to evacuate themselves iii. Concerns over public order and the sanctity of property, led by the government to view this "class" of people as a serious threat to the maintenance of public order and war effort. As one of the sub-committees over seeing Air Raid Precautions put in the 1930's the most likely to panic would be the "less stable in character of foreign elements living within London as well as the very poor living in East and southern London. ...read more.


Evacuees weren't accustomed o rural living. The city and country values clashed. Many evacuees came from the slums of the inner cities. They often found themselves in much wealthier homes and had to cope with different standards of behaviour. Evacuees were separated from their families. Some evacuee children were badly abused or exploited. Some avoided the responsibility of taking in evacuees. A report by the Association of Headmasters and Head Mistresses in July 1941 criticised many better off people for "shirking their responsibilities." Evacuation saved many lives, but it had other important effects. It freed up mothers to take part in vital war work. Evacuation was also a powerful social force. Youngsters from the poor inner cities saw the country side, often for the first time. Taken in by the wealthy and the privileged, evacuees were exposed to a life they had never dreamed of. At the same time the upper classes, were shown the harsh realities for poorer people of society. After the war it gave people a chance to reconsider issues, and brought the country together after the ordeal. Why did the British Government decide to evacuate children at the start of WW2? ...read more.

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