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World War Two: Evacuation and Miscellanea

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World War Two evacuations: why, where from and where to

Why children were evacuated in WW2

To avoid the expected maiming and death due to air raids and gas attacks of World War Two, the British Government decided to evacuate children out of city areas to more rurual areas which were regarded as safe. This was to be voluntary, but there was much publicity which implied that loving parents ought to let their children be evacuated for their own safety.

WW2 Poster showing Hitler encouraging mothers not to let children be evacuated to safety

Poster showing Hitler encouraging mothers not to let children be evacuated to safety

Evacuation locations

Kent, Sussex and Essex, were initially included as safe rural areas, but later evacuations were to further inland.

Guest contribution

A problematic evacuation location

During the war the Salford and Manchester areas were less built-up and were thought of as separate towns. So some children from Manchester were evacuated to my parents on the outskirts of Salford even though this was only about five miles away. Not surprisingly this evacuation didn't make the children any safer! The whole area was very heavily bombed in 1940 and 1941, with attacks particularly aimed at the Old Trafford industrial area and the Manchester Ship Canal. The bombing was inaccurate and at least one bomb fell in my parents' street. So the evacuees' mother took her children back home, because she could see they were no safer with my parents than they were in Manchester with her.

Alison Tomlin

Practices for evacuation from towns and cities

Evacuation was a huge logistic effort, and schools in heavily populated areas practised the march to their local station even before the war began.

The following photos shows a typical practice march. Note how long the crocodile of children is, stretching into the distance.

Practice for evacuation day from Silver Street School, August 1939

Practice for evacuation day from Silver Street School, Edmonton, August 1939. The evacuation took place for real on September 1st 1939, two days before WW2 was declared

Practice for evacuation day from Silver Street School, August 1939.

Practice for evacuation day from Silver Street School, August 1939. Photo taken at the intersection of Silver Street and Windmill Road, Edmonton

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