See also the evacuation of
Silver Street School in Edmonton.
I was a baby when the Second World War started, so, like all children under five years old, I was evacuated
out of London, along with my mother. I know that it didn't last long because she
felt that she would rather die in her own home than live in someone else's. I
was too young to remember anything about it, and am grateful for the
contributions in the following boxes.
Poster showing Hitler encouraging mothers not to let children be evacuated to safety.
How and why my grandmother escaped having evacuees
Homes with spare rooms in rural areas were required to have evacuees
billeted on them. Understandably they were seldom really welcome. I was
living with my grandparents in West Wratting, Cambridgeshire, at the time, and they
took steps to make sure they had no
evacuees. It was agreed within the family that several of their London
arrive to 'fill up' the rooms. They only stayed briefly, though. Then they
went back to London. I was more or less a permanent resident, so I stayed.
Why other households had to have evacuees
Various other village families, however, were forced to receive evacuees along
with their school teachers. The coach
bringing them all arrived at the village hall which was next
to our house.
What the evacuees were like
The children were real East Enders. Very few, if any, had ever
seen the countryside. Being originally from London, because my first school
had been Silver Street School in Edmonton, I had a foot in each camp. So I
could understand what the evacuees were saying as well as the village dialect, and I
could drop into either accent.
The evacuees' schooling
Things changed with the arrival of the evacuees. In particular, school changed. The village children,
went to school in the mornings with the village teachers, and the evacuees
went in the afternoon with their own teachers.
A view from evacuees
I met two of the evacuee boys many years later in London and they told me
how awful it had been for them. Many evacuees were exploited or neglected.
Anne Davey (born Anne Cole)
Having evacuees in the family home
My mother had three evacuees allocated to her: a mother and two young children, probably
about 3 and 5 years old.
They slept in our 'spare room', and they lived in our kitchen.
They shared the cooking facilities with my mother, but we ate at different times,
with my mother, brother, sister, and I, eating in the dinning room.
Once my mother and I went into the kitchen while 'our evacuees' were eating. My mother asked the youngest child why he had no sausage on his plate,
as his mother and brother both had sausages on their plates. He withdrew his hand from under the table and showed
us that he too had a sausage. This sausage was clutched firmly in his little hand. How terrible to be eating food with his fingers, and not a knife and fork,
we thought! We were secretly rather shocked by this behaviour, but I hope we didn't show it too much. What sheltered and privileged lives we had lead. The war would change all that.
One reason why it was so upsetting to be an evacuee
I was evacuated to stay with my aunt. When I heard her talking about the bombs and deaths in London, nothing would convince me that my parents were still alive. I was in such a state that I had to be allowed back home as only seeing them would convince me that they hadn't been killed. I suspect that many other evacuee children must have suffered in the same way.
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in early to mid 20th century Britain, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is © Pat Cryer.