Guernsey evacuees' stories told at Manchester event

Guernsey people evacuated to the north of England during World War II were reunited at a special event held in Manchester at the weekend.

It was organised by Gillian Mawson, a researcher who has set out to preserve their stories for future generations.

About 17,000 people left in 1940 ahead of the German occupation of the island.

Mrs Mawson said: "It was a traumatic experience, leaving their parents and not having any contact for five years."

About 5,000 children were evacuated with their schools, mothers left the island with their families and thousands were sent to the north of England.

Evacuees could only return home after the island was liberated on 9 May 1945, nearly a year on from the Normandy landings and the day after victory in Europe was celebrated.

Although some families chose to stay in the towns they had been evacuated to.

Mrs Mawson said: "We've got about eight evacuees who still live in England having remained here after the war and we've got some evacuees who have come over from Guernsey, which is absolutely wonderful."

She said the public were given the chance to meet the evacuees, look inside a Red Cross letter, see inside an evacuee's suitcase and visit a recreation of a wartime ship.

Mrs Mawson said: "We just want to show all different aspects so that people of all ages can engage with the story."

The event was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, which helps post-graduate students show their research to the public.

Guernsey's Culture and Leisure Minister Mike O'Hara was among those who attended.

He said: "The relationship has stood fast for 70 years... it's important the history is remembered as part of both our culture and heritage, it's important to keep it going."

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