Children were massively affected by World War Two. Nearly two million children were evacuated from their homes at the start of World War Two; children had to endure rationing, gas mask lessons, living with strangers etc. Children accounted for one in ten of the deaths during the Blitz of London from 1940 to 1941.
World War Two was the first war when Britain itself was the target of frequent attacks by the enemy. With the success of the Battle of Britain and the suspension of ‘Operation Sealion’, the only way Germany could get at mainland Britain was to bomb it. This occurred during the Blitz and seemed to reinforce the government’s decision to introduce evacuation (what the government of the time described as “the biggest exodus since Moses”) at the start of the war. On August 31st, 1939, the government issued the order “Evacuate Forthwith” and ‘Operation Pied Piper’ was started the very next day.
The impact of evacuation on children depended to an extent on which social strata you were in at the time. Parents who had access to money invariably made their own arrangements. Children at private schools based in the cities tended to move out to manor houses in the countryside where children at that school could be, in the main, kept together. But 1.9 million children gathered at rail stations in early September not knowing where they were going nor if they would be split from brothers and sisters who had gathered with them.