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The Evacuation of British Children Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

In the early years of the second world war most of the fighting took place in Europe, Russia, North Africa, and South-East Asia. Effects were felt all over the world and more civilians were being killed then soldiers.

Six months before the war there was just the phoney war where nothing much was happening. Heavy bombing was expected in Britain’s large industrial centres, and the British government thought that children and mothers of young children would be safer in the country, so plans were drawn up to evacuate them from cities to country areas so that they would be protected from the war.

However some parents didn’t want to evacuate there children and they used alternatives to keep them safe like, bomb shelters, underground train stations and basements of there houses. Although these places kept them safe and protected them from death they were not as good as being evacuated. Being evacuated meant they were away from the major bombing areas and wouldn’t be effected by war damage whereas staying at home and protecting themselves with the above would only mean they were protected from death but not from damaging pollution or war damage which, even gas masks couldn’t protect them from.

Blitzkrieg (lightning war) caught allies by surprise because of the speed. In April of 1940 the British army and some of the French army were pushed back to the beaches of Dunkirk by the German Army who had invaded surprisingly fast. The only possible escape rote for them was by sea as they were trapped between the English channel and the Germans.

The British govenment was begin to worry that before the war got underway and the ‘real’ fighting started the whole British army would be wiped out. On the 27th of May 1940 the British government bough in operation Dyriarno the aim was to evacuate British soldiers by ships and most of them were rescued. The government wasn’t only worried about the war itself but they were worried about keeping soldiers morals, they didn’t want them to worry about there children because if they did this they would stop fighting. This was also mainly the same reason for the women working, the government didn’t want parents to worry about weather there children were alive or dead especially if a school was bombed – they didn’t want parents making the ‘mess’ worse by rushing about to see what was happening also they didn’t want children to turn wild from the effects of the war.

I think that evacuation was a good idea because it protected the children from war damage and having bad memories played back in there minds and the places they were evacuated to were calmer it also kept them safer then basements, bomb shelters, gas masks and underground train stations as in these places they would still have a high chance of dying compared with if they where in the country.

The main reason that I think evacuation was a good idea is because parents wouldn’t worry as much, this is because they would believe there children were safer and well away from the main bombing areas.

Assignment 1 – The evacuation of British Children


In September 1939 the phoney war started, and this went on for about 6 months before the actual war began in 1940.

The second world war was very different to the first, mainly because of the development of transport, this meant that attacks could be quicker and also that civilians were more at risk than before. During world war two, children were taken to places of safety like bomb shelters or underground assembly point etc. to protect them from bombings and war damage. They where also evacuated from London to the country and sometimes other British dominions for example Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.

Even after the war had ended in 1945 people still had trouble and fount it hard, most people had to rebuild there homes and there lives and quite a few were left with know family.

Source A was taken in September 1939, 6 months before the war started, Although the picture isn’t that clear we can get a lot of information from it. It is a picture of parents and carers taking children down a road, to a near by train station in London. This may of felt like a really long journey. But it was all done so they could get a train to the country, so that they were away from the main bombing area. The picture may have been taken by an evacuee so that they could remember that day or their friends if they were not to meet up again. It could also have been taken by parents worried that their children may die, even though the children would be in the countryside away from the main bombing area. The parents may of taken it to remember them in the future, if this was the case.

The reason that the children in this photo are smiling and not sad at the fact that they are being evacuated could be because it was staged, they may have been told to look happy. They may also of been told that they should look happy because they were going on a big and wonderful adventure. Also looking closely at the photo, you notice that only the children closest to the camera are smiling, this again could have been the “staged” affect! It could of also been taken by some one from the government, taken to make evacuation look better and easier than it actually was. The government may of wanted a picture like this so that they could send it around, and show parents, so that they would then want to send there children away to safety. I think this source is in favour of evacuation because of the evidence it is showing me.

Source B was from an interview with a teacher in 1988, many years after the war, it may have been written by the teacher his/herself or by the interviewer. If the interviewer was left to write it down then they may of changed the

wording or made it seem more bias, the teacher may of said what was written down to make him/herself

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seem more knowledgeable or heroic about the war, then they actually were, so that they would sound better.

The source describes walking down a street, most probably in London, to a near by train station to board a train that would take them to the country. Although a lot of the war would have been remembered, I don’t think the amount of detail that was put in to the text would have been. As it was written many years after the war, I think bits would have been forgotten or missed out. The teacher who wrote the text would have probably forgotten all the little minor details like all the younger children crying and their “murmuring” whilst they walked down the street as he/she would have had more important things to worry about like looking after and controlling the children throughout the time away from home!

This source tells us that the parents weren’t aloud to go away with the children but they were aloud to see them on the train whilst standing on the platform, it also says that from the moment the children were on the train and the train set off the teachers were responsible.

The source tells us what it was like as a teacher walking down to the station to board the train, it tells us what the children and parents were doing (murmuring) it then says they were to worried to talk…I agree with this, they would have been. This also shows that they were scared, worried and frightened, probably because for most of them it would have been the first time they had staid away from home without their parents. It may also of frightened them not knowing the people who they where staying with.

We don’t really know why the source was written, we just know that it was written for an interview or during an interview, it may have been used as background information on the teacher, as a “push along” for him or her. It may of made them think that he or she knew a lot on the war and would be good for the job.

I think that this source is against evacuation because it says a lot about the murmuring and that they didn’t know where they where going, this makes it very negative.

Source C was written by Nina Bowden, in 1973 about 28 years after the war had ended. It tells us what it was like for two children living as evacuees. The source is part of a children’s novel called Carrie’s war, and would have been based on facts, the novel could have been written any where at anytime, although it was most probably in the comfort of the writers own home.

The book says that the children left the carer Miss Evans, feeling guilty after telling her they had no slippers when she had asked if they could put them on. Having no slippers was probably due to the fact that they had no room in there luggage to pack them, but Miss Evans thinks its because the children are poor.

The book describes how things were and is an insight to war and evacuation. As its written from a child’s point of view that would also keep children interested in the “tale”.

It was probably written to educate children and tell them facts about the war as well as having a story behind it with some made up points to keep it entertaining, we can tell this because of the way in which it is written. Its written in a funny way “and they giggled.” shows this, if it was serious and just a factual book then it probably wouldn’t of said this, if the source went on for longer it would be excellent.

This is defiantly a source for evacuation. I know this because it doesn’t seem to say a bad word about it.

Source D, advertised in 1940 at the start of the blitz was a government poster probably put up round all streets in the country and slotted into or printed in local newspapers.

I think the source tried to persuade more adults to take in evacuated children by signing up at there local council. This way the council could send children to the volunteered adults who would then keep them safe during the war. I also think the reason why it was published in papers and put up around streets is most likely to be for the fact that it would be seen by a lot more people this way, the more people that saw it the more they would be persuaded to sign up. This would be a really good propaganda opportunity.

The source was probably affective because of the picture and the persuasive wording. The source was probably written so they could try and get as many people to sign up as they could so that they had enough places for the evacuees to go during the war, as there was a lot of them they needed as many people as they could get to sign up.

It basically says in the text that the children already evacuated really appreciate the care and they say thanks to the people caring for them. Some children would have been to young, and may not of understood what was going on, and if this was the case wouldn’t be able to say thank you as it would just be something that “happens” to them. However I don’t think that the whole source is true, I do think that some of it would have been made up to make people think that it was a good thing that others where doing and they should do it to. Although I think thit, the source is for evacuation, you can tell this from the ‘good messages’ its giving out.

Source E is from May 1940 around the start of the phoney war, its part of an interview on evacuation with a parent of a young boy. The source is all about the fathers thoughts on evacuation, it doesn’t tell us where the interview took place but as the farther and boy are from Southend, I would assume that it was taken somewhere around there.

The farther says that he isn’t going to send he’s boy away to safty because the place where they are going (shires, Wales and the west) wouldn’t be able to look after them properly as they where poor before May 1940 so they would be worse now.

The farther also said that he had no family there that his boy could stay with. He was wondering how they would now cope having to feed more and was worried that he’s son may end up starving if sent there. He may of sent the boy had there been family there because then he’s thoughts may be that his child will fill more comfortable with people he knew, and then if he had died, during the war, his boy would be with family who would keep him safe and help him get over the loss more then a stranger.

I think that the interview maybe something to do with the government trying to find out approximately how many children where going to be evacuated and peoples thoughts on evacuation. The reason why they may be doing this could be so that they could try and get as many places ready for the evacuated as they could. In May 1940 the war hadn’t really started, it was just the phoney war, so the boys farther may not of really had time to think about it, he may also of though that they might get away with nothing happening where he lived, in Southend.

The source says that the farther of the boy isn’t going to send him away this makes this source against evacuation.

Source F, a film based on the bombing in London was produced by John Boorman in 1987 after the war. It tells us what it was like to live during the second world war, from a young boys point of view.

It also shows that things didn’t really change a lot and people could still have fun. With just a few miner changes, everyday life still went on. Throughout the film the family go through ups and downs but seem to get closer. It shows us that as soon as the alarm sounds they had to get up and go to shelter, under the stairs in bomb shelter or in the basement of the house, whatever time of the night or day it was. This was just so that they were protected and didn’t get harmed during the bombing.

I think that the source was made for educational reasons, it shows much more information than a text book and you can get more involved with it. I don’t think the whole film was true but it was based on true facts, I think a lot of it was made up to keep the audience amused, entertained and aware of what was happening. This particular parent didn’t send her children away until close to the end of the war, so not only did she have to protect herself during this crucial time but her children as well, this shows us how people lived when they didn’t send their children away and gives you a mixed opinion on evacuation.

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