Evacuation, Second World War

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Evacuation is defined in Collins dictionary as being ‘a movement from a dangerous area, especially in time of war’. Surely this is a good solution to the enemies’ bombing. It was a fast and effective process, 1st September 1939 saw 1. 5million people moving to safer areas. As successful as this sounds many began to filter home within weeks. Homesickness drove some, hard labour enforced by the foster parents drove others, but mothers fetched the majority home by Christmas as no bombing had occurred.

In my coursework I will combine sources and my background information and research to write an essay on the successes and failures of evacuation. Source A is a photo of a group of young children heading towards a station in London, ready to be evacuated to new homes. They have happy expressions on their faces and some are waving at the camera. This shows a good point of evacuation. We do not know who took the picture, but I can predict that it was taken as a part of the government’s propaganda to persuade people into letting go of their children to others who live in safer areas.

The government viewed evacuation as a saviour for children in dangerous areas, and would do anything to encourage this movement, such as taking this photo of happy children to promote the idea of it being a positive experience. This photo only shows a sample of the population who were to be evacuated, and it is only these children who are happy, so we can not base our opinions of the rest of the evacuated children on this photo.

The photo was taken in 1939, at the beginning of the war, when not many people had been evacuated yet. In 1940 although, when much of the suspected bombing had not taken place, many parents fetched their children home. Children did not know of the terrible homesickness and the bad experiences, which came in some cases of evacuation. Instead, they were nervous of the thought of being away from home, but excited at the prospect of travelling for the first time and seeing different people and animals.

From my background research I know that some children departed with spades and buckets because the parents had not that heart to tell them what was really happening. One of these children asked why his mother at the school gate was crying… the quick-witted teacher replied that ‘because she can’t go on her holidays too’. Excellent propaganda was sent out, posters, pictures and photos such as this one that encouraged both children and parents.

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