Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

Remembered in Ravenstonedale?

Were you part of the evacuation of children to the countryside?

This part of the web site is here to encourage evacuees and family members of evacuees to make contact with each other and with villagers who still remember you.

Poster

The background story

Evacuees in World War Two - the True Story - By David Prest. Extracted from BBC

EvacueesEvacuees

Operation Pied Piper

The evacuation of Britain's cities at the start of World War Two was the biggest and most concentrated mass movement of people in Britain's history. In the first four days of September 1939, nearly 3,000,000 people were transported from towns and cities in danger from enemy bombers to places of safety in the countryside.

Most were schoolchildren, who had been labelled like pieces of luggage, separated from their parents and accompanied instead by a small army of guardians - 100,000 teachers. By any measure it was an astonishing event, a logistical nightmare of co-ordination and control beginning with the terse order to 'Evacuate forthwith,' issued at 11.07am on Thursday, 31 August 1939. Few realised that within a week, a quarter of the population of Britain would have a new address.

Talking to evacuees now about the events of those days in 1939 recalls painful memories that have been deeply hidden for 60 years, exposing the trauma of separation and isolation and the tensions of fear and anger. Most were unaware of where they were going, what they would be doing and all were wholly ignorant of when they would be coming back.

The fear of air attack from German bombers at the start of hostilities encouraged parents to send their children to safety. There were predictions of 4,000,000 civilian casualties in London alone, and, as early as 1922 - after the air threat from Zeppelins - Lord Balfour had spoken of 'unremitting bombardment of a kind that no other city has ever had to endure'.

“As bombing raids attacking Britain's cities increased during World War Two, thousands of children were uprooted from their families and sent to the safety of the countryside. Many found, however, that life away from home was no picnic.”

The Government had stockpiled coffins, erected masses of barrage balloons and planned, at least in outline, for the mass evacuation of British cities before 1939. But it is now revealed that these plans were hopelessly flawed.

In the first place, the estimates of casualties were grossly over-exaggerated and the subsequent Government propaganda caused near panic rather than controlled movement. In addition, the man in charge of evacuation, Sir John Anderson, was a cold, inhuman character with little understanding of the emotional upheaval that might be created by evacuation. By David Prest, from the BBC web site. 12/7/11.