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Children in World War 2: A host child describes his experiences

Context

The families who received evacuees were called 'host' families. When evacuees arrived in the 'reception areas' in the countryside they would be taken to a public place, often a village hall.

Here they would be the responsibility of a 'billeting officer' who would line them up, ready for selection by the host families

Strong, healthy-looking boys were often chosen first so that they could help with work - e.g. on farms.

Host families were often reluctant to accept mixed groups of boys and girls, which was a problem for brothers and sisters who did not wish to be parted. Those who insisted on remaining together were often the last to be chosen.

Evacuation meant upheaval and disruption for host families just as it did for evacuees. But many life-long friendships were forged between evacuees and the children they met in their new homes.

The boy speaking here was interviewed by Olive Shapley of the BBC in September 1939.

Transcript

At this point we thought it was time to ask one of the children who lived in the town what he thought of this evacuation business...

And what do you think about evacuation?
Well... It's been carried out alright... I've got two girls in our house and I've had a very nice time showing them around. I was a little bit disappointed when they brought two girls to the house - I'd expected two boys but - they're turning out alright anyway.

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