In May 2021 The British Evacuees Office received a very interesting email from a school in Scoil na Naomh Uilig, Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland. Meadhbh, and her pupils had done extensive on The Second World War. Our project together was based on an email Meadhbh sent to us, part of which is below:
I have been teaching a wonderful 6th class about WWII over the past month. We have covered WWII-related topics such as The Blitz and D-Day over this period. However, one topic above all others struck a chord with the children. Namely, that of The Great Evacuation.
We have been investigating and researching what it might have been like for young evacuees to be torn apart from their families for such long periods of time in many subjects. We created our own tea-stained labels and assumed roles as evacuee children on their train journeys to the countryside. We examined what it might have been like to experience an air-raid and have to take shelter in an Underground Station using old London Air-Raid recordings. We studied such songs as “Run Rabbit, Run”, “Goodnight Children Everywhere” and "We’ll Meet Again” to get a sense of what these songs might have meant to the younger victims of the war.
We created sculptures inspired by photos of evacuee children on platforms. We wrote diary entries from the perspective of an evacuee child trying to settle in to their new life. We used the idea of rationed food quantities to study Weight in Maths class. We played old hop-scotch and skipping games such as “Sister Susie’s Sewing Socks for Soldiers….” in PE class. We even built our own Anderson Shelter models.
To complete our extensive and hard work on The Great Evacuation the children would love to write you a letter outlining their interest in your incredibly brave WWII stories as evacuees. They are also very keen to pose some questions they cannot find the answer to online or in history books.
Yours faithfully, Meadhbh
In order to encourage these students in their studies, Karen sent out all of the 29 letters received to some of our members who had responded to her urgent appeal for help. The result was that all the children received a unique and personal letter back from a real life evacuee. There was only a small window of opportunity for our members to respond as the school closed for summer, two weeks earlier than those in the UK. These students would then be moving onto secondary education, but respond our members did Every letter received an individual response which was delivered to the students before the end of term.
The project was also published in ‘The Evacuee’ to show appreciation to both the students and members for all the hard work they had put in. The children were delighted, see below.
Dear Karen, I cannot thank you enough for your ever so kind and prompt reply.
Your proposition has caused immense excitement among both the children and the wider school community. We had only hoped that even some of our letters might be read. We would be absolutely honoured to have the children’s work showcased in your magazine. They could not believe the news and are now more motivated than ever to ensure their letters are of a very high standard.
Karen received a response from Meadhbh following the receipt of the letters.
Your letters all got to the children who were overjoyed to have them as they left the school for the last time so thank you so so much for all the hard work that this involved on your part. They will never forget the experience and there was lots of talk about the letters and the stories they contain being handed down to their children in the future as heirlooms.
The project was a great success and ensures that the story of the evacuation is known by future generations. Special thanks go to our members Keith Perryman, Eddie Chambers, P Freddie Harden, Bob Kench, Kathleen Moss, Alan Perkins, Doreen Greenwood, Mike Williams, Vera Speer, Janet Stubbings and Maureen Batts who took the time and effort to respond to all the letters individually and brought the Evacuation story to life for such a hard working and dedicated group of students.
The British Evacuees Association is the largest organisation for British Evacuees.
We are regularly contacted by the national and local press, radio stations and television production companies asking for factual information which we are happy to assist with. We launch many appeals for information on their behalf and are recognised as the leading authority on the Evacuation story. Our wealth of knowledge comes from our members experiences.
We have speakers throughout the UK who are willing to give factual talks on the Evacuation, together with details of their personal experiences. If you require a booking form one can be obtained by contacting the office.
Why not buy a copy of the books ‘Send Them to Safety’, and The Teaching Guide both books are perfect for teachers and students and contain factual accounts of the Evacuation. Both are written by Mr James Roffey who is the Chief Executive and Founder of The British Evacuees Association. Visit our Shop page to order your copy now or for further information.
If you would like further details on our work and how we can help you with the subject please do not hesitate to contact us
Being an evacuee meant leaving your family, your home, your pets, your toys and everything with which you were familiar.
It meant being taken to an unknown destination, where you would have to live with strangers, trying to learn their ways and fit in with their way of life. Sometimes there were misunderstandings and feelings that you were not really wanted.
You had to suddenly grow up and be responsible for yourself and your belongings. You were expected to hide your feelings and never talk about them. Homesickness was a major problem for many of the evacuated children. If you felt unhappy or not well there was no mother there to comfort you and make you feel better.
When you heard the news on the radio about air raids on London or other built up areas you worried about your parents and others, were they alright, were they safe, would your real home still be there when the time finally came for you to go home?
The day you were evacuated changed your life forever, it would never be the same again, even when you finally went home, if you ever did, in your absence, things at home had changed and moved on.
That’s what it was like to be an evacuee.
What the evacuee children were allowed to take with them...
Food for the journey - sufficient food for 1 day. Apples or oranges are most suitable. Any parcels that the child may carry should be labelled with his or her name, home address and school.
Mr Michael Aspel OBE – Television Presenter and former evacuee
Sir Robert Crawford CBE – Former Director General of the Imperial War Museum
Lady Emma Barnard – of Parham Park, home for evacuees during World War Two
Former Patron and Evacuee - Sir Roger Moore
Former Patron and Evacuee Sir Bruce Forsyth CBE
Former Patron and Evacuee Mr Henry Sandon MBE
Rt. Rev. and Rt. Hon. Lord Carey of Clifton
Former Archbishop of Canterbury and evacuee
Mr Michael Aspel OBE
Television Presenter and former evacuee
Sir Robert Crawford CBE
Former Director General of the Imperial War Museum
Mr Henry Sandon MBE
Television Presenter and former evacuee
Lady Emma Barnard
of Parham Park, home for evacuees during World War Two
Former Patron and evacuee Sir Bruce Forsyth CBE
Former Patron and evacuee Sir Roger Moore