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,