5.12.17

Evacuation Of Children in WW2

It began the first day of September 1939 due to the threat of bombing. Parents were expected to pay 6s per week. Those who were not so well off were charged less and assisted by the government and people taking in evacuees were paid around eight shillings or as much as sixteen, according to the age and needs of the children. Billeting officers helped find them foster homes. Some sent out by Operation Pied Piper at the outbreak of war, involving over a million children being moved to the countryside within just a few days. More were sent in 1940 when the phoney war was over and bombing really started.

Indication of the official return was sent out in May 1945 but permitted until the war was completely over in the east. Not all children chose to come when instructed to do so. Megan, in Peace in my Heart, much preferred to stay with the landladies she thought of as their kind and caring aunts, having lived with them for three years. This was very often the case. Some children hardly recognised their parents, looking and feeling like strangers, not having seen them for years. This was often because they had little memory of their parents, felt they’d been neglected and abandoned, or simply loved their surrogate parents more. Coming home often didn’t seem much fun.

The parents were devastated when they found little show of affection from the children they’d badly missed. And many had lost loved ones for whom they were grieving. In this story Cecily and Megan discovered that their home had been bombed and had no idea where their mother was living, or even if she was still alive. Evie was, but finding her children was equally difficult, as was locating a new place for them to live. And when they found them, would they ever agree to come home and would they still love their mam and dad?

Settling in with their family after years away was never easy and adjustments had to be made by all. For some the place they’d been living during the war had been exciting, and they found it difficult to return to their previous life they considered more boring. Their personality too had changed as they’d gradually grown up with caring people in a different area. However, if they’d suffered problems as an evacuee, perhaps been overworked, neglected or abused, they ceased to trust anyone. Sometimes their class or religion could be considered wrong by their surrogate parents. Whatever problems they suffered could result in them feeling rife with stress and anxiety, depression or obstinacy. Nor had they any wish to discuss these problems with their parents, once they returned home, not wishing to recall what had happened. Evacuation had saved lives but in many cases did create yet more problems for the family.


The war is over and Evie Talbert eagerly awaits the return of her three children from their evacuated homes. But her carefree daughters and son are barely recognisable – their education has been disrupted, the siblings split up, and the effect on them has been life-changing. Her son has developed serious behavioural problems and with her daughters, there’s jealousy and a nervous disorder that cannot be explained…

Evie’s husband also has problems. Having returned from being in action, he suffers nightmares and fits of rage. He’s no longer the gentle, quiet man Evie married. Peace may finally be here, but Evie’s family is in shreds. Now she must rebuild a loving home to achieve the happiness she’s always dreamed of…

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