World War II Evacuation of Children in Britain

World War II Evacuation of Children in Britain

When we look back to 1939, during World War 2, evacuation was happening all over. In Britain, children were being sent out of the city of London. They were sent by train and road to relatives out in the country or in small towns where they were thought to be safe. Unfortunately, some children were sent to complete strangers. They also sent away pregnant mothers, frail seniors and handicapped people because they were all considered to be vulnerable. But for children, the World War II evacuation had to be a horrible experience.

Here’s why:

They were treated like post office parcels. They had to have labels attached to their bodies and they had to stand at railway stations waiting to find out where they would go. Some kids, who had brothers and sisters along with them, would be split from their own siblings. Without much food or attention, the kids would arrive in different areas of the countryside not knowing who they would be living with or if they would ever see their own families again.

Once they arrived at their destination, they would be taken to a gathering point and a person who was called a billing officer would be in charge of finding them a home. Foster famiies or what they called host families back then, would fight over what child or children would live with them. If you looked healthy and presented yourself well, you were picked first. If not you were left for last. Some fortunate children were lucky enough to live with kind relatives. In Britain, World War II Evacuation was done several times.

The first time they sent away the children was in 1939 but there wasn’t really a need to do so. Germany had not bothered with Britain that early in the war. But parent’s thought perhaps they should keep their children safe. Twice more the kids were sent away to all parts of the world. Some kids thought of this as an adventure while others were not happy at all.

Take a look at this video of Queen Elizabeth talking to the children who had to be sent away: