People had different views and opinions of the policy of evacuating children during the Second War. Many people, who weren’t affected by the situation, did not get involved at all, however, as the war continued, the Government realised how necessary the policy was for the safety of Britain’s future, and the progression in British economy. Different mothers needed different amounts of convincing. Some were happy to send their children away as they knew they would be safer in the countryside, and in many cases, it would be a new opportunity for them.
They also knew it would enable their husbands who were fighting in the Royal Forces, to stay focused on bringing Britain victory, if they knew at least some of their loved ones were safe. In addition it meant they were free to help the war effort by helping out in the factories and other areas. They could work longer and harder hours without worrying about their children. At first however, many mothers were reluctant to send their children away from home. They were unaware of the severity and felt that with their husbands being away from war, they had know one to spend their time with, but their children, and so lots of children were not at first evacuated. However after many warning many decided to send their children to safer areas.
After the phoney war in 1939 many children drifted back home, as they had no reason to stay away from their mothers if they thought there was no risks. However some were then taken by surprise when the air raids began in earnest. Morale, of course, was somewhat shaken, and not all children wanted to go. Indeed, many mothers stopped their children from leaving, which resulted in many tragedies. However most mothers rightfully thought the best place for their children was in the countryside where they were with safe caring families where they could get a lot of food and exercise.
Eileen James, a mother from London said before the war she was apprehensive about sending her two children, Rachel 8, and Michael 14 away to the countryside, they stayed at home with her until the first bombings in London. During the Phoney war she felt she had done the right thing as it was made apparent that their was no danger in keeping them in London, however after London first got bombed, she knew it was necessary for the safety of the children.
Many people were lined up to play hosts to the children, some who were delighted to do so, others quite the opposite. They knew that although they get the choice of whom they cared for, often the child could still have disgusting habits and behaviour problems, which they would have to cope with. They were lacking rations as it was, and with additions to the household, they thought that they would be starving, however many received a pleasant surprise as they had more than enough food.
Several also didn’t have a lot of room for extra people and so had to give up their space for children who they didn’t even know. As the war progressed, although some people’s views never changed, many of them realised that taking in children helped out the whole of Britain, and also helped out them, with an extra couple of pairs of hands, it was amazing the work that could get done, for example on a farm in Yorkshire, a lady said that twice the amount of work got done with the extra five children she was playing host to.
Many people were fine about the idea from the start. They realised they were going to have to do it anyway so they might as well do it without a fuss. They also knew if they were in other people’s situation they would want their children to be in a safer situation. Everybody in Britain had to be strong and united at the time of terror. Although many people changed heir minds once receiving the children as a lot of them had very poor hygiene and were very rude and co-operative, generally people were very accommodating to their young visitors. A young girl, originally from Liverpool was evacuated Hoylake, Wirral. She had different experiences during the time when she was evacuated. She stayed with three different families, two of which were extremely friendly and she returned for visits after the war was over, however with one of the families, the father abused her which left her with many mental problems later on in life.
As lots of the children were evacuated to the countryside, children were often housed on farms. Most farmers were more than happy to look after the children as it meant a lot of extra help on the farm, which was necessary to feed everyone on the farm and everyone in the country. If there was a lot of food for the farm it meant everyone had a lot of energy to produce more food. The more food there was meant the more food there was for the country, which not only makes the army stronger, which makes the country stronger, but it also meant that a bigger profit they would make from selling lots of food.
Then lastly I come on to the reactions of the children themselves. They must have suffered the most, as they had to go through probably one of the most dramatic years of their life. Not only must it have to be distressing enough going through bombing of any sort, but also having to go through the whole ordeal without their family around them must have been terrible. They went through their most important years of their lives without their parents, the years where they grew into adults.
Many were terrified about leaving home and nervous about being in different surroundings. Some of the people looking after the children objected them to mental and physical abuse, which made many children very homesick. Many children on the other hand were excited about going to a different, and most likely an unfamiliar area of Britain. Whilst away they got to appreciate fresh air and freedom. After a while though I think its fair to say many children missed home and although they were enjoying being away, were ready to go back to their normal life.