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Children in World War 2: Children evacuated on 1 September 1939

Context

In the first four days of September 1939 nearly 3,000,000 people were evacuated in Britain.

They moved from the towns and cities to safer places in the countryside.

The vast majority of these were schoolchildren, but they were accompanied by 100,000 teachers and sometimes a parent.

In scenes repeated all over the country, children marched as a school to the train station wearing identity labels and carrying their gasmasks and a few personal possessions.

For most it was the start of a long day that would eventually conclude with their selection by a 'host family' in the 'reception area' - their new homes.

Transcript

The evacuation of British children is going on smoothly and efficiently. The Ministry of Health says that great progress has been made with the first part of the government's arrangements. The railways, the road transport organisations, the local authorities and teachers, the voluntary workers and, not least, the householders in the reception areas, are all playing their part splendidly.

We're on Number 12 platform at Waterloo Station, one of the ten big metropolitan stations that are engaged today on the evacuation of London's schoolchildren. We're on Number 12 platform, the train's in and the children are just arriving...coming along in their school groups...with a banner in front saying what school they are...the tiny tots in front, leading up to the bigger ones, the 12/13 year olds behind...and here comes a high school, more like 14, 15 and 16...they're being evacuated too.

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