Evacuation was the temporary re-location of children from industrial areas to the countryside during the Second World War.
This was done if there was a threat of bombing of the major industrial cities, countryside was not effected so the children were sent there. It was an attempt to preserve future generations and stop the enemy lowering morale with infant casualties.As early as 1920’s Britains government warned against and predicted that civilians would be bombed in the event of another outbreak of war. The development of the aircraft changed the face of the threat of bombing.
Where once it was feared that Zeppelins would be used in an attack, now the faster, more agile aircraft looked more likely to be used in an attack from the air. The development of the German Luftwaffa also increased threat of Air raids as the most threatening country was now arming itself for air attacks. In 1935, the British Government made initial plans for the evacuation of children in industrial cities, by attacking these major cities, the Luftwaffa could ‘Give Britain a bloody nose’. Such cities included Birmingham, London, Manchester, Sheffield etc.
Not only could they cripple Britains industry by attacking these cities, but also by targeting civilians, they could greatly lower morale.Then, during the Spanish civil war, between the Communists and the Republicans, Hitler found his opportunity to fight communism, and at the same time to try out his new Luftwaffa. The rest of the world looked on helplessly at the destruction caused at the bombing of Gurneca. Technology of that day meant that the horrific pictures of the devastation caused were broadcasted all over the world and the pictures were seen in all the newspapers.
People were mortified and scared at the suffering modern weapons could cause. This was a cause for further concern for the British government, as the threat of bombing looked more realistic. Fear of poisonous gas being put into the bombs and spreading further prompted plans to be made by the Government. The British government sent everyone a leaflet explaining evacuation, which persuaded adults that evacuation was the safest option for their children.
In 1938, when Germany threatened to invade Czechoslovakia, defences were put up and trenches dug in London, as a result, the Government looked more carefully at the plans for evacuation of children and women to the countryside. Many were encouraged to make their own plans but after 1938, many more signed up for evacuation.In September 1939 Germany invaded, Poland, war began and evacuation began with immediate effect. Children from danger areas were evacuated to reception areas in the countryside where they were welcomed into homes with relative success and ease.
However, for the first few months towards the end of 1939 and early 1940, there was no bombing in Britain, this became known as the ‘phoney war’ as a result, many parents called their children back because they thought there was no threat to them. But when the bombing began in 1940, there was a sharp rise in the number of evacuated children.Major cities such as London and Manchester were seen as potential target areas for German bombers because of the heavy industry there. In Trafford Park, in Manchester a leading firm called Metropolitan Vickers (Metrovick) was contracted to produce radar equipment and uptake the conversion of 18-pounder field guns to 25-pounders for the army.
Factories such as these were prime targets for the Luftwaffa to try and deplete British supplies. These factories were placed in inner cities to provide the workload and transportation of materials.After the battle of Britain, which created further scare for parents, there were more evacuations for children with little prompting needed from the Government.To summarise, the British government was well aware of the threats of Air raids and was worried for the safety of the British public.
Those in high danger areas should only be living there if their work was involved with the war effort or similar. It was thought that the safest place for children would be in the countryside away from any potential target for enemies. Infant deaths would only lower morale, and effect future generations.