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Evacuation in the Second World War Assignment

Source A is quite helpful as it fits in with my knowledge of that time. Photographs are more reliable ‘as a camera never lies’ but using my knowledge the scene for this one could easily have been staged. It shows all the children walking to the station looking cheerful and waving to the camera. In reality children may have been happy believing they were moving too safer places but not to the extent as depicted (shown) in the photograph. A lot of children would have been distraught having to leave their parents to go to live in strange places.

This photograph shows no evidence of distressed children or parents. The picture used may have been a morale boosting exercise for the country, implying that evacuation was an exciting prospect. On the other hand Source B maybe more genuine as this was taken from an interview with a teacher who recalls being evacuated with her pupils. Although this is still the viewpoint of one person, the women had no reason to lie or exaggerate. She had first hand experience and summarised the atmosphere in words that may have more impact as a source.

Also it is worth considering that the interview was given in 1988 so her memory may not have served her correctly. It all would depend on what you were looking for. Source C was probably taken to depict a clean and healthy lifestyle and a sense of togetherness. It shows boys together in a bath, suggesting ‘if you evacuate you will be looked after’. I personally think that it was another propaganda stunt, three baths of smiling boys. Another factor to consider would be that a lot of parents would not have seen a ‘real’ bath with hot and cold taps before, so would think how lucky their children are going to be.

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During the war the government issued the photograph, to help persuade the country that evacuation was a good thing for everyone. The accounts are very different as one is from an interview with a ‘host family’ mother and the other is from an evacuee looking back on their past. Source D talks about the disgusting habits of the children staying with a middle class family suggested to me by the fact that the house had two toilets. Source E starts off “How I wish the common view of evacuees could be changed”, this common view was largely down to the government’s use of propaganda.

In a way this was right. In contrast source E states ” it is just as upsetting for a clean and well-educated child to find itself in a grubby semi-slum as the other way round”. To my knowledge the government didn’t show this contrast; it was always indicated that the children were going to be in a better, safer place. Personally I would agree with the governments idea to reassure parents that their children were going to be safer in the countryside. If they had show the down side of evacuation then some parents would not have agreed to let their children go.

Although the accounts are contrasting they only express one view and they were both given in 1988. I would agree that Source F is an accurate summary of evacuation. The writer had obviously researched the subject. It would have been true to say “many of the evacuees could not settle in the countryside” as town and country life is very different. It is understandable that living away from home is difficult enough without the added fear of not knowing whether you will see your parents again.

From my knowledge of other sources I know that there was a lot of poverty in towns and cities and because of this the “reports of children ‘fouling’ gardens, hair crawling with lice, and bed wetting” are probably accurate. However some people may disagree with the text as it was taken from a history book and the evidence would not have been first hand. It is based on sources and the writer may have generalised on some the comments. Also the source doesn’t give any indication of the fact that host families didn’t always welcome the evacuees with ‘loving arms’.

Source G adds to my knowledge in a positive way as the viewer sees the image on the screen. The evacuation was portrayed in a way to show the viewer the emotional ‘roller coaster’ that families had to face. Amongst the disorganised chaos parents were having to be strong for their children whilst saying ‘Goodbye’. However once the children have departed they break down and cry in anguish not knowing whether they will ever see their children again. The strength of the parents shone through and this obviously reassured the children that everything was going to be OK.

An example of this was when a mother persuaded her children that evacuation was for the best but after calling them back, as she didn’t want them to go her son then answered “I want to go”. We need to remember that Source G was a British film therefore would have been directed in a manor to entertain people not inform them about the whole truth behind the evacuation. The film was produced in 1987- indicating that the writer may have relied on research. Sources A and C are both photographs taken during the time of war, as the government took them they are more than likely staged.

Sources B, D and E were exerts from interviews with people involved in the evacuation. We must remember that the interviews took place nearly 50 years later and that each one was only one experience. However they may be more conclusive as they had first hand experience of being there and would not have had any reason to lie. Source F is taken from a History book, this would have meant the writer would have had to research this part of the war thoroughly. The experience is not first hand so could be deemed less reliable or it could be said that it gives a wider view.

Source G is an extract from the British film ‘Hope and Glory’. Although loosely based on fact films are generally made to entertain those who watch them not develop their knowledge. To a degree I would agree with the statement “Evacuation was a great success”, as without it many thousands of children would have died in the blitz. Times were very uncertain for everyone and it was widely felt that the children would be safer away from the large cities. Although this was the case, the evacuation was a very emotional ‘roller coaster’ and its affects lived on in the lives of many.

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