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"evacuation Was a Great Success" Discuss Using the Sources and Your Own Knowledge

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"Evacuation was a great success" Discuss using the sources and your own knowledge

In this essay I will be using the sources and my own knowledge to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this statement and will then formulate my own opinion as to whether I agree or disagree with it. The first children were evacuated on the 31st August 1939. More followed between the 1st and 3rd of September until in all almost one and a half million people were evacuated by the government into the countryside.

The sheer logistics of the operation were huge. Source A shows this, as a huge number of children had to be transported to the countryside and then provided with shelter once they arrived. The photograph provides evidence of how the government went about this; it shows the children being marched out with their suitcases and gas masks on the way to the station with their teachers. The fact that the government managed to achieve this in such a short period of time was indeed a success. Although this photograph only provides a snapshot into what was occurring in one place at one specific time, I know from my own knowledge that this scene was repeated in most of Britain's industrial cities. Unfortunately the first few months of the war were known as the "phoney war". This was the period between 1939 to May of 1940 during which Hitler solidified his hold on Europe. This meant that there was no evidence to the common British parent that there was any danger from aerial bombings, and as such they felt they had sent their children away for no reason. This resulted in a large number of children drifting back to the cities before the blitz had even begun because both children (who missed their parents) and their hosts (who missed their privacy) were leery of the evacuations in the first place and since the threat that they had been evacuated for never materialised, they felt there was no reason to stay. The government would definitely have hailed the scheme as a success as it would be unthinkable to admit that they were wrong about anything in the present situation as British morale was fragile. However the undisputable fact was that they had got the timing wrong. By Christmas 1939 many children had returned home for the holiday season and just neglected to return to the countryside which meant that the government had been successful in getting the children evacuated in the first place, but had failed in the sense that they just returned home prematurely.

Source D shows a typical British war-time poster. It is defiantly biased as a government would post anything damaging about itself during wartime and it only highlights the success of the evacuation. It emphasizes upon the good aspects of evacuation, showing the two smiling children on a back drop of the countryside. There is also the contrast with the city, which is shown as having bombers flying over it, even though the blitz hadn't even started yet. However the text in the article highlights another problem with evacuation, that being the lack of suitable accommodation for children. We know many areas instigated an almost compulsory policy in the case of accepting evacuees, putting hosts in a very difficult position if they refused to take a child on. This however resulted in many hosts resenting the children they had taken in. There was also the issue of many of the hosts having little or no idea of how to deal with the children from inner city slums. Source C represents how the more well to do people in the countryside regarded the children from the inner city. The fact that she assumes that neither of the children have slippers because they cannot

afford them, and how she treats them in such a demeaning manner shows how there was prejudice and discrimination against children coming from the cities, which would probably contributed to the "Drift back" mentality and resulted in many children returning home. Older evacuees were expected to work for their keep, this was good news for farmers and landowners as they had received a free source of labour, but many city children were unused to such physical labour. However this does not mean that all children found evacuation to be unpleasant, many children had wonderful times, escaping the harsh reality of life in the industrial cities, and, especially with children who were evacuated abroad to places unaffected by the war, they made life long friends and connection. On the other hand it must have been



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