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Compensation for war refugees

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Messages: 1 - 11 of 11
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Caro (U1691443) on Monday, 31st October 2011

    In the genealogy magazine I was reading the other day there was an
    article about on the conflict between Maori and Europeans in Taranaki
    (New Zealand) in the 1860s. It said some of the wives and children of
    settlers were sent away for their safety and others left of their
    own volition. They became known as the Taranaki Refugees (which I had
    never heard of before).

    At that time Taranaki was a province with its own government and
    superintendent. The genealogy magazine has examples from the records
    of people granted free passages and rations, but there are also
    letters asking for further assistance. The ration was a shilling a
    day (including Sundays) for one adult; 1/10 for two adults up to five
    for 3/10. One letter read in part: “Sir, I had my arm broken very
    badly by a Gunshot from some Rebel Native or Natives. Since then I
    have been confined to my bed. I have refrained however from applying
    for relief under the impression that I could have supported my Wife
    and Family without doing so. In consequence of the extra expenses
    required to provide necessaries in times of Sickness, the payment of
    7/- a week House Rent, the keeping in of a Fire Handle Light all
    Night, the providing of a Little refreshment for those who are kind
    enough to stay with me by night, and having a Wife and 2 children
    wholly dependent on my earnings has caused me to lay the same before
    your honourable Board feeling assured that you will give the present
    application for relief that Consideration which is requested of You.”

    He was refused. But a lady who had lost her husband, and had several
    children to provide for and had to pay 8/- a week in rent and “kept a
    little shop for groceries” and had no other source of income was
    granted her request.

    Having read a few of this sort of story recently I am beginning to see
    why men left their wives so often in the past. It was very difficult
    for some to keep providing.

    But what I was most interested in was the whole concept of provide
    relief for people whose lives had undergone upheaval because of war.
    Is this usual? We in New Zealand used to have the earthquake and war
    damages commission, but I think the war part has been taken out now,
    and insurance doesn’t cover war. Hard to see the Afghani people being
    granted relief because they’ve had to move house. Soldiers’ families
    maybe, but many of these people had not been soldiers, though some may
    have joined in the fighting as civilian fighters. There was
    apparently a Taranaki Relief Fund Commission established in 1861.

    Was there compensation for displaced people in Britain in the world wars? I suppose there must have been something for those children sent elsewhere. What about when adults left. My mother-in-law and her son left Ramsgate for somewhere in the country (didn't last long there and came back). Would she have received some payment to do this?

    Cheers, Caro.

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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by dmatt47 (U13073434) on Monday, 31st October 2011

    I don;t think that there was compensation for evacuation except when requested by the Military in coastal areas, D-Day planning comes to mind. Evacuation of families and children was offered but it didn't mean that the government was going to pay for it, it was simply a result of war.

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by Peggy Monahan (U2254875) on Monday, 31st October 2011

    When children were evacauted the families that received them were paid something. But in general evacuation was not compulsory unless for military necessity.

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  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Caro (U1691443) on Thursday, 3rd November 2011

    Thanks for that. I had not heard of compensation for this sort of thing, though someone has told me of Philip in 1340 providing relief for the French survivors of the Battle of Sluys when they straggled home.

    It never occured to me before to wonder if there was some payment to my mil when she was relocated with my husband's older brother. And I don't know whether she just decided to go or if there was a general advice given to get out. I think she was put somewhere close to where her husband was working at Farnborough, or perhaps it was Newmarket he was at at that time.

    Cheers, Caro.

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  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by Priscilla (U14315550) on Thursday, 3rd November 2011

    Evacuation - at the time however harrowing - I think most are only too grateful for their children to be removed from a potentially dangerous situation. Compensation is the last thing on any ones mind at the time.
    And how do I know , well because my daughter was evacuated when she was 6 along with many other people in 5 Herculese aircraft sent in for any British who wanted to go. Some companies orderd their personal out and many wives were angered about having to go. I opted to stay back because I had a job to do and people I felt responsible for.... but that's another story.
    We did not know where the evacuation planes were going and it was several days before my daughter reached UK; someone had kindly agreed to take care of her until my parents could be contacted.

    It was one of the most difficult times of my life and with a difficult decision, a time when I faced what was important . I was further strengthened by my mother who said on the phone that of course she understood - and that I would not be her daughter if I had left. She had not expected me to do otherwise.

    Not quite what you asked about Caro but it evocated a memory I had almost forgotten.

    Regards, P.

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  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by Meles meles (U14993979) on Saturday, 10th December 2011

    I know the OP has been asleep for a bit but I did just come across a few things that might be of interest.

    Regarding evacuation of British children in WW2:

    In 1939 householders received (per week) 10s 6d for the first child billeted on them, and then 8s 6d for each additional child. This was intended to cover “full board and all the care that would be given to a child in their own home”. To put the amount of money in context an agricultural labourer was earning about 30s a week (to support his own family) so the money for taking in a few evacuees would have been a significant boost to the family income.

    In 1939 the real cost of each child’s board and lodging was reckoned by to be about 9s and the government initially proposed to reclaim 6s per child from its parents. Those parents who could afford 9s were encouraged to pay the full amount; those on unemployment pay or poor relief were not expected to pay anything, while parents on low incomes were means-tested to determine what they could pay. This proved to be an immensely burdensome and expensive scheme to operate. By the end of 1939 the average amount collected for each evacuated child was only 2s 3d a week and a quarter of parents made no contribution at all.

    But the issue of money was never just a simple matter of cost analysis. Long before war was declared it was recognised that in a future conflict with Germany, Britain would have to mobilise its female workforce. In short a woman at home looking after her children could be better deployed into war work: whether in the forces, civil defence, industrial or agricultural work etc. Charging parents for their evacuated children’s upkeep risked drawing mothers (and increasingly it would be just the mothers who remained at home) out of the available labour pool. The evacuated children themselves were probably also viewed as being able to do their bit although I doubt this was ever succinctly stated. Children were never going to be called into the armament industries etc, but when evacuated to agricultural areas they could still add valuable extra pairs of hands to farmers who just had lost sons and labourers into the forces.

    Another point to mention is that while evacuation was not compulsory the procedure did make it difficult to resist. The basic axiom was that children were evacuated with their school and their teachers went with them. The city schools, devoid of teachers, were then taken over for other purposes (military training, civil defence, aid distribution centres etc). So if you refused to allow your child to be evacuated you became responsible for its education (and with the departure of their schools children also lost access to school meals and regular health care).

    As well as children, mothers who had children under 5 were also evacuated. A householder was paid 5s a week for each added woman – with an extra 3s for each pre-school child. This was for lodging only as the mother was supposed to cover the cost of her own food, presumably with money sent by her husband.

    Inevitably the billeting evacuated mothers caused far more trouble than children on their own…..

    A good summary is in Juliet Gardiner “Wartime Britain 1939-1945. publ. Headline, 2004.
    ISBN 0 7553 1026 8

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  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 6.

    Posted by Meles meles (U14993979) on Saturday, 10th December 2011

    I could have made one thing a bit clearer:

    Charging parents for their evacuated children’s upkeep risked drawing mothers .... out of the available labour pool.  

    ... that is because it was feared by the government that if they started charging parents for the real cost of providing for their evacuated children, then the parents would simply bring their children back home and their mothers would become "full-time housewives" again. Mothers who had no children at home (having evacuated them) were under-employed, and therefore seen as a valable labour force.

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  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by Vizzer aka U_numbers (U2011621) on Monday, 12th December 2011

    Not war refugees as such but certainly refugees from armed forces activities - the Chagos Islanders in the Indian Ocean still haven't received genuine compensation from the UK government for having been forcibly evicted from their homes in the 1960s to make way for a US naval and air force base at Diego Garcia:


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  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 8.

    Posted by Caro (U1691443) on Monday, 12th December 2011

    In NZ in the late 1970s every news bulletin began with the occupation of Bastion Point by Maori and your post, Vizzer, reminded me of this. I thought it might have been taken for war purposes but that wasn't so. Raglan golf course was the place where an airfield was built on Maori land and not returned.]

    From NZ History site: "There were similar protests [to the Bastion Point one] during 1978 at Raglan, where Māori land had been taken during the Second World War for an airfield that was never built. Instead of being returned to its former owners, some of this land had been turned into a golf course in 1969. The land was eventually returned to the Tainui Awhiro people."

    More detail here: www.radionz.co.nz/ge...

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  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by Vizzer aka U_numbers (U2011621) on Tuesday, 13th December 2011

    It's quite noticeable how the Crown of New Zealand often finally ends up acting correctly in these matters - even if belatedly. Sadly the same can not be said about the UK.

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  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by LongWeekend (U3023428) on Tuesday, 13th December 2011

    Meles meles

    That was definitely the case later in the war, when efforts were made to get as many women as possible into the work force.

    But the original rationale was simply to keep married women at home so they could continue to keep house for their husbands, and thus not distract them with the necessity of shifting for themselves or disrupting the work force by going to look for work near their evacuated family.

    Some men did do that, in any case. It got progressively harder to leave war-related jobs, but it was possible if the job you were going to was in an equally important type of work.

    Even later on, women with children under 14 (school leaving age) were not subject to National Service. But women in this category were encouraged to work. Nurseries were set up, neighbours encouraged to act as child-minders, and (state sector) schools stayed open over the holidays, running what today would be called play schemes.



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