Continued Evacuation

In May 1940, a second large movement of evacuation had commenced. Children who had been evacuated to areas within ten miles of the coast in East Anglia, Kent or Sussex were transferred to South Wales. The safe areas of the first evacuation phase had to be reconsidered as the situation on the continent developed. Often the children evacuated had not escaped the direct effects of war.                                                             

‘I can still recall dead German seamen being washed upon the beach wearing navy blue jumpers and hexagonal naval headdress.’ John Plummer, evacuated to Folkstone in 1939

During May, June and July about 213,000 unaccompanied children were evacuated. Yet once again the evacuees began to drift back. The total of 519,000 evacuees officially billeted in England and Wales on 1 August was smaller than in the January. As the Blitz came to London in September, over 520,000 children of school age resided in the metropolitan area. In some areas, the news of Dunkirk actually speeded up the rate of departure to London which had been declining. Families, it seems, preferred to die together if die they must.

'If we were going to die, we would all die together'

After six months of this - and this was the time of the 'phoney war' - my parents decided that, if we were going to die, we would all die together, so we all went back to Streatham and we all survived. Sheila Watts, evacuated to Hertford in 1939.

As the country began to suffer bombardments children were once again evacuated from vulnerable areas. Cities which had not previously been ‘evacuable’ were given assistance in sending mothers and children away. In total, it is estimated, some 1,250,000 people were helped by the Government to leave the bombed cities, in the period between September 1940 and the end of 1941. By February 1941, the number of evacuees officially billeted in the reception areas had reached 1,370,000 – only about a hundred thousand short of the first phase of evacuation. The last major phase of evacuation was commenced as Germany in 1944 began a new wave of bombing British towns and cities using V1 flying bombs and, later, the V2 rocket. 

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 19/11/2011.

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