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Explain The Differing Of People In Britain To The Policy Of Evacuating Children During The Second World War.

Essay by 24  •  December 4, 2010  •  940 Words (4 Pages)  •  864 Views

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Evacuation was imperative in Britain in the war years for the safety of its people. It protected children from the devastation that war generated throughout Britain's major cities. Had they stayed to face it, their lives would have been almost certainly ruined or often taken by air raids. Evacuation gave these children and Britain a future to look to after the war. However, there were problems facing the hosts and evacuees alike during these years. Evacuation uncovered many social ills and did not entirely protect children from trauma.

Evacuation highlighted many cultural and lifestyle clashes, with city life opposing rural life. Many mothers were uncertain in the first place whether to evacuate their children- naturally separation of parents from their offspring caused a lot of heartache on both sides. Children were evacuated, but people were not enthusiastic about it; and in the years before the Blitz it became apparent to some people that the major cities were not going to be bombed so many children returned to their hometowns from which they had recently left. Evacuated children found that they were not always welcomed, and host families were often appalled by the state of city children. Host mothers noticed with alarm how much weaker these evacuated children were than country children, that had been bred on clean living and fresh food. They brought with them disease, born from the overcrowding in cities; many were reported to suffer from the skin infection impetigo. Children were also severely malnourished. In the city fresh food was simply not available to them- many had never seen cattle before, let alone eaten fresh vegetables or meat. Host families were astonished to find children in the belief that Ð''potatoes grew on trees' and Ð''every bird lived in a cage.' They were also shocked at children demanding Ð''beer and chips'. Evacuated children were often very socially impeded- the atmosphere of war made them nervous and unstable. Locals in rural areas complained of an increase in petty crime such as theft from shops. This evident lack of nutrition and decent housing in the city contributed to the government incentive for the Ð''Welfare State' after the War.

The evacuation during the war was the largest mass movement of people ever seen in Britain, not only that but it was completed without a single accident. This initial success did not last long though as understandably Britain struggled to adjust to this transformation in circumstances and living arrangements. Children came frequently from some of the worst slums in Britain. Their behaviour appalled the people of the middle classes who took them in. There are accounts of children who had never slept in their own bed or even eaten with a knife and fork. Worst of all, many were unaccustomed in the use of a toilet. Bedwetting became a common problem, but the most chronic concern was the children's general poor health; bringing with them lice and ringworm.

It was not just the hosts that suffered though. Children were often abused because of resentment in families forced to take in them in. Though evacuation of your child was voluntary, as long as families had a spare bed it was compulsory to foster children. Many families begrudged sharing their homes with strangers.

I have discussed the tension caused by sending the urban working class children to live in rural middle class families. However, there were also extreme religious and racial

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