Britain's Policy of Evacuating Children
During the Second World War people’s attitudes and reactions towards
evacuation changed. There were both positive and negative experiences
for the three main groups I am going to discuss, the evacuated
children, their parents and their foster parents.
For the children at the beginning of the Second World War, Evacuation
was looked upon as one big adventure, and the children treated it
rather like a childish game. Their opinions however began to chance,
for on the 3rd September many children were evacuated, most were sent
to the countryside in the hope that they would be safe from the
expected bombs and gas attacks. The evacuation was arranged via the
schools and whole classes, even whole schools were evacuated together.
Many of the children evacuated really did believe it was an exciting
adventure and good to get out of the city and see parts of Britain
that they would never normally get the chance to see and explore.
“ My young sister and I were evacuated to Ipswich on the first of
September 1939. I can’t really remember the preparations but I do
remember being on the train at Ilford Station and arriving in Ipswich.
We were actually quite excited, I can remember my sister saying she
was desperate to explore and see more of our country. We were taken to
a church hall I think and then were allowed to have some of the
goodies out of the bag we had all been given!! (I remember there were
custard cream biscuits and a tin of corned beef and I think some
chocolate but what else I’ve forgotten although I do remember the
brown paper carrier bag it was in!) It was all made out to be rather
exhilarating and as if it was just a day out, that would last a few
weeks…. Really the evacuation as far as we were concerned was just a
long holiday interspersed with lessons which weren’t difficult to
handle, and new friends and a completely different environment from
that which we had been in before… “
This extract taken from a former evacuees diary, Barbara Nicholls,
shows the excitement and also very little knowledge about the
evacuation process and what was expected before they reached the
foster parents home.
When the evacuees finally reached their destinations and were sent to
their designated foster parents this is where the children’s different
reactions to evacuation really started to become clear. Some
absolutely loved it, as they were treated very nicely and were given
treats and niceties unlike they would have been at home. Some loved
the open space of the countryside rather than the busy city. Also they
had certain luxuries they were unable to have at home such as hot
water. Some children loved their foster homes so much due to the
luxuries and better environment they begged their foster parents to
adopt them so they could live the...