Archive for December 24th, 2008

Story Eighty-Nine Children Evacuation and Canada


Over 7,700 children were evacuated from Britain to Canada for the duration of the war. Eighty percent were private evacuees sent abroad by wealthy families or sponsored by companies, service clubs, and institutions; they were accompanied by some 1,500 mothers

In 1939 with war about to break out, the government expected major air attacks on all Britain’s cities, and that this bombing would pave the way for a German invasion. The government felt it needed to get at least the children out of the city and into the safety of the countryside. Plans for the evacuation of school children began in July 1939 before the outbreak of war. Mass evacuation began on September 3rd 1939 the day that war was declared. Children, mothers and expectant mothers were moved out of the danger areas and into the relative safety of the countryside, to places in Kent, Sussex, Wales, Devon, Cornwall, and many other areas. Children returned to school from their summer holidays and suddenly found that they were all about to move to a different part of the country.

Most London children were evacuated through their schools.

Altogether 827,000 school children were evacuated along with 103,000 teachers and helpers. 524,000 children under the school age went with their mothers. 12,000 pregnant women also left the city to protect their unborn children.

London was bombed every night that September by an average of 200 planes each night. The devastation was immense. However on the 14th November, Coventry suffered the worst raid of the entire war. Over 400 bombers dropped more bombs (incendary and high explosive) than any part of London had experienced in one evening. Southampton, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester all suffered smaller scale destruction.

In the period of the Blitz (Autumn 1940 – Summer 1941) over 43000 civilians were killed including almost 5500 children. Over 190,000 bombs were dropped and nearly 1.25 million homes in the London Region alone were damaged

Source: ‘We Remember the Blitz’: compiled by Frank and Joan Shaw:
ISBN 1 872779 00 X

Life during the Blitz for Children is well depicted in the movie  Hope and Glory

Government  Initiatives, CORB,   despatched 2,664 children, who became known as ‘Seaevacuees’, over a period of three months.

Canada received the bulk of them – 1,532 in nine parties.

Three parties sailed for Australia, with a total of 577 children, while 353 went to South Africa in two parties and 202 to New Zealand, again in two parties.

Between 21 July and 20 September 1940, 16 voyages were made carrying 2,664 children to new lives in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa

Read a story of a girl from Grimsby, UK  who along with her two sisters  stayed in Montreal ,   story from the WW 2 BBC  series,  it is  calledEvacuation to Canada 1940 – 1945  by Marjorie Smith

The  evacuees  were not all treated  well  by their relatives  or  foster parents  and  a number  of  stories  are told on the BBC  People’s  War  site  which includes over 14,000 memories


Oshawa Author:  Brian Perks

A  local  Oshawa resident  Brian Perks  published his  own memories of his   experience , he  also provides an engaging presentation for children  in Oshawa schools of  the emotional pain  of separating parents from young children.


Oshawa  based  writer  Brian Perks, author of  The Plight of the Wartime Child Evacuees, One  Boy’s  Story,


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