Evacuation of children in the Second World War was a massive project and many people have different views on how successful it actually was. I am going to study several sources (A to F) and compile my own opinion on the matter. After studying the sources there are elements of success and failure and I will now discuss them. Firstly and one of the biggest examples of evacuation being a success was that it got kids and some mothers (800,000 mothers and 550,000 babies in all) out of the way of the firing line to places were they were in less danger of death or serious injury.
Evidence of this is present in a number of Sources namely A, D and E I will look at them all, but firstly A which is a picture of children being evacuated in an orderly queue with there parents behind them, the picture was took in London and the children seem to be fairly happy and unmoved by what was going on. The picture seems to show evacuation as a success.
However this Sources reliability is questioned by the insufficient amount of evidence given, the picture only shows a small part of the evacuation process, only one incident out of the whole country and the fact that the picture was taken genuinely is bought into question by the fact that it may have been set up. Source D is a poster appeal picture made by the government trying to persuade country folk to foster children, the poster shows two children in front of two scenes , one of war and one of the countryside and has text describing what fostering can achieve. The Source seems to show evacuation as a success.
Again though this sources reliability comes into question because it is produced by the government, in fact the source is almost totally unreliable because its propaganda. Source E is a set of questions that were asked to a man from Southend, the Source also gives answers to the questions. The source seems to show that evacuation wasn’t a success. However this Sources information is insufficient due to the lack of information given but is made reliable by the fact that it’s primary information from a man who was experiencing and questioning if evacuation was right for his child at the time when it was happening.
So although two of the sources that included the information were slightly unreliable and the figures weren’t included, I still believe that getting the children out of the way was a reason why evacuation was a success. Another success that evacuation experienced was the labour that it cleared. When evacuation was happening, the departure of the children from homes in the cities meant that mothers now had no more children to look after which cleared up time. For women this time was now spent working in industry or joining campaigns such as ‘Grow your Own’ and ‘Women’s land Army’, this was a big help to the war effort.
Morale is always important in anything but is vital at war time, this is why evacuation brought about another success, by the parents of children allowing the children to go to safety zones in the countryside knowing that they would be safe and that they had made a contribution was vital for morale and would certainly have been a boost for all involved. Perhaps the biggest reason why evacuation had to be done and was eventually a success for the country and evacuation was the fact that evacuation protected the future generations of England.
An example of a source showing that evacuating children protected future generations is Source C; Source C is an extract from the children’s novel ‘Carries War’ and describes how a woman fostering children was embarrassed after presuming that the two (brother and sister) were dirty because they were from the city. The source seems to show that evacuation was successful; this is because the children are in a nice place with a kind woman and are safe from danger.
However the sources reliability is questioned because there is insufficient evidence, the source only tells us of one incident in an evacuees life and the biggest reason for its unreliability is that it’s from a novel created for kids, this means that only information which children will find interesting will be included. Another success of evacuation was for the city children who were evacuated to the countryside, making the trip improved the diet of many children because they ate a variety of foods including increased vegetables, this made the children healthier and sometimes happier.
Sources D and F explain this, Source D’s propaganda filled text tells of the children be healthier and happier, but this source as I have previously said is unreliable. Source F is a short video with numerous different accounts and sources, some reliable and some not, but in the video a person tells of the food being like having Sunday lunch everyday, however this source could again be unreliable because there is little evidence and its an opinion, but I believe that the source is reliable because its a first hand account from a child who experienced life as an evacuee.
Other examples of evacuation being a success are the local halls which were turned into reception areas to sort out difficulties and host child selections, another success for evacuation was the parties that were held for the children to encourage the mixing of residents and evacuees, this was a good and required measure as many evacuees felt like outsiders and many residents took the opinion that the evacuees were dirty. Although there were many successes for evacuation, there were also many failures and errors to the evacuation process.
Firstly and quite majorly was the unhappiness felt by kids and their parents when being evacuated, parents and children often found it very hard to separate and were usually not allowed to give their children a proper send off. Examples of unhappy kids and parents can be seen in sources F, E and B. Firstly source F were a woman tells of here awful experiences as an evacuee were she was very unhappy, this source however is slightly unreliable because although the woman was their she is now recollecting and talking of memories which makes the source unreliable.
Source E which was the survey questions shows the unhappiness of parents because the man is reluctant to let his child be evacuated; this is down to unhappiness with the evacuation system and through the fact that the man would be unhappy if he parted with his child, this idea of unhappiness runs into the fact that families were separated which again was a failure of evacuation.
Abuse is always a serious issue whenever it happens; it is very wrong and happens everywhere. Evacuation was no exception to abuse were many children were beaten by their foster parents who saw the children as inferior, this was a problem, also some children through fear would wet the bed and also harbour lice and scabs, this was the stereotypical evacuation child. This was certainly a failure for evacuation.
Social divisions occur everywhere and in some ways were worse than now in the days of evacuation, children from the cities sometimes hated the countryside folk and vice-versa, religion was also a cause for division between groups, source C is a perfect example of social division, the woman who has fostered both brother and sister asks them if they have slippers and then goes red with embarrassment when she assumes that slippers are too expensive and civilized for townies like them, the source however is unreliable but in this case my own knowledge tells me that cases of social division and branding happened all the time especially over religion. An event that made evacuation a failure was the Phoney war, this introduction to war in which nothing happened saw children being evacuated to safety zones for their safety but when it became apparent that nothing was happening, the children started to drift back home putting them in the firing line when the blitz eventually started.
An example of this in the sources is source C in which the man being surveyed doesn’t want his kid to be evacuated because he sees nothing happening, the source is reliable and so is a good example of evacuation being a failure during the Phoney war. As I have previously said many mothers and children were unhappy about being separated, but they also sometimes found it difficult moving to and then living in a strange area were they new no one, small villages although sometimes friendly couldn’t provide mothers and children with what they were use to and in a way expected. City folk were use to a number of shops, pubs, cinemas, busy traffic, but were often left with nothing like what they expected.
In my opinion evacuation being a success or failure really depended on what family fostered you and if you encountered social divisions and racism. However overall I believe that the evacuation of children was more of a success than a failure, but just a success not a great one. I believe it to be a success because of the children it saved who would have almost certainly have been killed, evacuation was always going to have it’s problems as does any operation on such a grand scale but the work it did in ensuring the next generations life and other good effects it had on the war effort, e. g. moral boost. It must surely be regarded as a success and not a failure. So I do agree with the statement of ‘Evacuation was a great success’.