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Why did evacuation take place in the early years of World War Two

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Why did the British Government decide to evacuate from British cities during the early years of WW2? During the first years of World War 2, two main evacuations took place in Britain, in order to remove innocents, such as children, to rural areas and out of target cities that were under threat from German bombing and the Luftwaffe's 'Blitzkrieg' tactics. There were many reasons why the Government chose to evacuate. These included, protection of civilians, fear of bombing and gas attacks and the aspiration to avoid another major conflict. Two different evacuations were held, one in September 1939 followed by the second in September 1940. Sir John Anderson the Home Secretary, was responsible for devising a plan to evacuate endangered civilians from major cities and important areas, such as London, Liverpool and Middelsbourough. London was a target due to Parliament and monarchy. Cities with ports such as Liverpool were vital for trade. This worried people, as they feared invasion from the sea so they were named target cities. Fear of attack was high so an evacuation plan began to come together. The country was separated into 3 evacuating regions. Around 3 million people were re-located to safer places. There were short term and long-term reasons for evacuation, including: Fear of bombing, fear of gas attack, propaganda, the battle of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. ...read more.


This fear was brought about by events from WW1. One event that stayed in people's memories was the Abyssinian Crisis of 1935. Mussolini used gas to a devastating effect, and news of the crisis spread fast and information was exploited by the media to the British public. This contributed to the ever-increasing state of fear in Britain; people were anxious about the possibilities of a gas attack. The fear of gas was a long-term reason, as people had returned from war telling horror stories of their experiences. Due to these fears the British government felt it would be appropriate to hand out gas masks to all citizens. Around 38 million gas masks were distributed following Munich. From 1937 onwards-local authorities began to advise the preparation for war. This involved putting air raid precautions into place. In addition the government produced a handbook. It was another form of warning; it illustrated how to use a gas mask. At this time large amounts of propaganda were being used. Rumours of war were everywhere in the media and newspapers. Posters reading messages like "wear your gas mask" were all over, and seeing posters of Hitler became a common occurrence, as the Government hoped to scare the public to move from the target cities to the suggested safer areas. ...read more.


It was the total bombardment and destruction of London. By May 1941 approximately 40,000 Britons had been killed. The government was worried and began to offer different countries to be evacuated too, on the condition they did not return. However this was abolished when German Submarines attacked a ship carrying passengers. In conclusion there were many different, short-term and long-term reasons why the British Government chose to evacuate. The fears stimulated from ww1 memories were an important long-term reason as it was always in people's minds and there would always be worry, concern and suspicion within people's minds after that war. This is why I believe it to be an important reason. If WW1 had not been so horrific people would have been less apprehensive. Also the fear of bombing and gas enthused from past events were also significant reasons. The propaganda used by the government was a short-term reason for evacuation. Despite believing that all aspects stated helped make the government decide to evacuate I believe that memories from WW1 were the most significant. This is because I believe this is what made people worry the most. Past memories were how people were able to predict or assume what may happen; therefore this was one the most important reasons to evacuate in my opinion. Sophie Robinson History Coursework 2004 1 ...read more.

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