Children's Experiences during WWII
What was an Evacuee?
During World War Two, children living in cities were at risk from enemy bombing raids. For this reason, many children were evacuated from cities to rural areas where it was safer.
Evacuating city children to safer areas was a massive task. There were many thousands of evacuees and this meant that transport and places to stay all had to be arranged. Look at this picture of evacuees waiting to be evacuated in central Nottingham. You can imagine how difficult it was to find new homes for all these children!
Evacuees came to small towns and villages throughout the East Midlands from large cities such as Sheffield, Nottingham and London. It was a new experience for parents and teachers as well as for the children. Try to read the extract from the Thurgarton CofE School log book on the right of this page. Can you find the part where the writer records the arrival of evacuees from Southend?
Evacuation could be both exciting and frightening. Each child had a different experience. For some children, being evacuated provided a new and exciting opportunity to enjoy country life. Read this letter, written by a Nottinghamshire evacuee. She had a good experience of being evacuated.
However, for other children living with a new family meant getting used to new rules and restrictions and sometimes evacuees and their host families didn't get on well. Have a look at this letter from a lady who was upset by an evacuee to get an idea of the sorts of problems evacuees and their hosts faced.
Read the two letters 'complaint letter' and 'letter written by a Northamptonshire evacuee'. Reading them aloud might help you to understand what they say, or read them with a friend. Compare the experiences of the people who wrote the letters. Who wrote each letter? Were they an evacuee, a parent, a person living in a city or a rural village?
Where do you live? In a village, town or city? In a rural area or an urban area? If you were alive in the War would you have been evacuated, or would you have taken in evacuees?
Children had many different experiences of evacuation. You can read two evacuee accounts from Donald and Gwen by clicking on their names. Some children enjoyed the change and a chance to live in the countryside. Some children however were homesick and missed their parents.
Imagine you are a child who has been evacuated to the countryside. Write a letter home, either as a child who is enjoying country life, or a child who is desperately homesick. What are you enjoying about your new life? What don't you like? What is different about living in the country? Think about food, smells, sights, and sounds when you're writing.