By Carmen González
WHEN DID IT HAPPEN?

The return to London took place in different times:
  • Some of the children returned to London to spend some days at home while they were suffering some illness, such as German Measles. However, they came back with their billets when they recovered.
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  • Several families picked up their children during the Phoney War, although the Goverment made advertisements to avoid it.
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  • Most of them came back when the war was over.
  • Some of them spent some time with their host families after the war was over, due to the fact that their own families thought they were happier there or because the families needed time to get used to the changes after the War.


HOW DID THE CHILDREN FEEL WHEN THEY RETURNED TO LONDON?


  • Some of them, relieved, because either they had missed their parents very much or they were mistreated.

  • Others, unhappy. They felt as a part of the billet families and they didn't want to leave them. Moreover, they were used to living in the countryside and when they returned to Lodon they couldn’t get used to the hustle and bustle of the capital.
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Evacuees on a nature walk through the countryside sorrounding the Dartington estate in Devon (http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-evacuated-children-of-the-second-world-war).
  • Some of them had lost either their mothers or their fathers. In some cases, they had lost both, such as the next testimony from an evacuee. As a result, they could not just go back to their previous lifes.






  • But not only the evacuees felt the return (in a good or bad way) but also their host families. For some foster families, the end of the war turned out to sadness, due to the fact that it meant the loosing of their beloved billet children.
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As evacuees return home to London, villagers say goodbye to the children they had adopted for the war. (http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-evacuated-children-of-the-second-world-war)

HOW DID THIS AFFECT THEIR SCHOOLING, THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR PARENTS?


For most of them, the schooling during the evacuation was not as good as the schooling in London. For this reason, when they returned to London, they had to catch up in plenty of subjects, especially those who wanted to carry on studing.

As for their parents, the relationship bewteen them was damaged. Some children barely remembered their own parents or siblings. On the other hand, parents didn't recognise their own children, who returned grown up, with differents manners, interests and even accents. In this way, there is an interesting testomony about a boy who couldn't cope with the return, so he was adopted by his host family:
"Some children became so much a part of their foster parents' lives that the outcome was life-changing for all parties. Gordon Abbott [...] was fostered by a childless couple who farmed in Cornwall. They loved him, cared for him and educated him as if he had been their natural son. He was blissfully happy. When the war was over, he and the couple were devastated that he had to return to London, but there seemed no choice.
Once "home", Gordon felt like a fish out of water. He did not like the city and he was not particularly enamoured of his mother's new boyfriend. She, in turn, realised that he was deeply unsettled and she soon wrote to his foster parents, to ask if he could return to Cornwall. He did and was adopted by them as their son. The war had given him a new family. "I loved them dearly, and thank the upbringing they gave me, which helped me into my adult life". (Source: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/mar/12/children-evacuation-london-second-world-war?CMP=share_btn_link)

However sad it may be, for some children the repercusion of the evacuation was terrible. They had been so mistreated (physically and psychology) by their host families that they suffered unhappiness and anxiety disorders even in their adulthood.


DID THEY KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THEIR FOSTER FAMILIES?


Some of the evacuees who had happy memories kept in touch with their foster families, because they became part of the families, not only during the war time, but also in their adulthood. Here is a sample of some of the most touching testimonies:

JOAN MARRIOT: "Edna and Charlie in Hayler (her hosted family) came up to London for my wedding in 1951. We have spent holidays with them over the years. They welcomed my children - John and Ann - and John has spent many a happy time with them fishing [...]. The Haylers attended the weddings of John and Ann in 1979 and now my grandchildren are popping in. My husband and I became very attached to Edna and Charlie who provided a home for me in 1939. In 1985 we bougth a caravan [...] so my husband and I are now able to call in more regularly [...] Truly, they are a wonderful couple. My husband and I think the world of them. We collect them sometimes and bring them down to the caravan. We spent their Golden Wedding with them a few years ago". "This is to say thank you to Edna and Charlie Hayler whom, but for the war, we would never have met. They have proved life-long friends to me and all my family. Some good did come out of that dreadful war - and the friendship formed between them and their "little evacuee" will surely last forever" (Source: Goodnight children everywhere- Memories of Evacuation in World War II).
JOAN PEARCE: "The Fisher family came to my home on V.E. night to celebrate with my parents. We have kept in close touch ever since, which has been for over forty years. All the family are now married and I went to all of the Weddings. I last saw them just two moths ago"(Source: Goodnight children everywhere- Memories of Evacuation in World War II).

SHEILA SHEAR: In January 1941, Sheila Shear and her sister were evacuated from east London to the Chilterns and billeted with a bachelor called Harry Mayo. They came from very different backgrounds – the Shears were Jewish, he was Christian – but an affectionate bond developed between them. Weekly visits and holidays with Uncle Harry, as they came to know him, continued long after the war had ended. When Harry died, Sheila and her mother went to the funeral: "When we got to Chesham, we were treated like the closest members of his family. In fact, in the church – and this was the first Christian funeral my mother and I had ever been to – we were put to sit in the front row, in front of Uncle Harry's nieces and nephews. It was only then, I think, that I really appreciated how much our little family had meant to him – and had gone on meaning to him all his life. "We returned to London in the knowledge that we would never go back to Chesham again. But the following day we each received a letter from his solicitor containing a cheque. In the envelope was a note that read: "A very small token of my very great affection.
(Source: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/mar/12/children-evacuation-london-second-world-war?CMP=share_btn_link).