Explain the differing reactions of people in Britain to the policy of evacuating children during the Second World War Many different people thought many different things about evacuation. Some people thought that it was a good thing as it took children out of the danger-zones and it would lower the stress levels of adults. Some people thought evacuation was a bad thing as it took children away from their families and many children were not used to the conditions they were sent to.
There were many different attitudes towards the evacuees and some of these changed overtime. At the start of the war many host mothers had negative views about evacuees that they were caring for. However, if the host mother stayed with the same children through out the war, both the host mother and evacuee may change their views about each other. Also the attitudes towards evacuation changed depending on whether or not the large cities and towns were being bombed at the time.
There were a number of reasons why people thought that evacuation was a good idea. The first of these is that the children were safer away from the cities. As it was thought that the cities, large towns and major ports would suffer gas attacks and air raids, the children were to be sent away from the places most at risk. During WWI, Britain was bombed by aircraft and German Zeppelin airships, and as aircraft technology had improved greatly between the wars, it was thought that Germany would again bomb Britain. There is a picture (source B), taken in 1939, of evacuees being walked to a train station in London so that they could be sent to the country.
The government issued an advertisement, source H, in Scotland, for more people to provide homes for evacuees. It says “They’re [the children] out of a danger-zone”. At the end it reinforces the view of removing children from danger by saying “You may be saving a child’s life”. This would make people believe that evacuation would be good as it placed children in safer areas.
Another reason that people thought evacuation was a good thing was that they were usually being sent to better conditions. Source D shows a group of boys bathing. Some people would think that that it is a bad thing compared to modern days, but the baths had running, hot and cold, water. In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, for most people especially the poor, bath-water had to be heated up on the fire and that lot of bath water would be used by the whole family. So in many cases the children were going to better bathing conditions. In source E a mother of a host family is complaining about the behaviour of her evacuees.
She said “Although we had two toilets they never used them…and our house stank to high heaven” In this case the evacuees had better conditions but did not use them. This may be because the evacuees were not used to the good living conditions in the country. In the slums, in London and other cities and towns, the living conditions were appalling. There was very often extreme overcrowding. The poverty was so bad that numerous children were suffering from malnutrition due to poor diets. Most houses had outside toilets and this would be a reason why most evacuees were not used to the conditions they were faced with.
The third reason I can think of why people thought evacuation was a good thing was because it took pressure off of the adults especially the parents. The adults needed to go out and work to keep the country running without having to worry about their children. Many mothers went to work in the factories so they would not have had the time to take care of their children properly. Source H… The final reason why evacuation was a good thing was because the children were happy. Sources B, C and D show this.