Government evacuation schemes and their effect on school children in Sheffield during the Second World War
In the period between the First and Second World Wars evacuation came to be seen as a military necessity in the event of future hostilities. In anticipation of immediate and devastating bombardment of London and other British centres of economic and strategic importance, the organised removal of 'non-essential' groups of civilians from vulnerable areas was regarded as vital in order to save lives, preserve public morale and prevent universal panic. This thesis studies the effects of official evacuation schemes which were operated during the Second World War. Firstly, the background to planning is outlined, with particular attention to organisation for evacuation from Sheffield. Secondly, preparations for departure, the operation of the 'Pied Piper' programme, and resistance to evacuation, particularly with regard to Sheffield, are covered, together with reactions in reception areas and methods employed in the selection of billets. Thirdly, difficulties encountered in the reception areas, complaints about evacuees, the premature drift homeward of evacuees and problems of education, both nationally and locally, are discussed. Later evacuation plans, leading to the 'Trickle' scheme and its accompanying problems, as well as overseas evacuation, the effects of the Sheffield blitz. and further government planning are described. Finally Operation 'Rivulet' (the 'flying bomb' evacuation) and the implications of the change for the city of Sheffield from an evacuation zone to a reception area for victims of rocket attacks in 1944 is examined, concluding with the final stages of the evacuation scheme. Evacuation was an event of major social importance: massive upheaval followed, conflicting cultures of urban and rural life were exposed and the gaping chasm between classes was laid bare. The British public did not flee in unruly disorder: on the contrary, countless thousands resisted evacuation - none more so than the people of Sheffield. The reasons for this, and the broader significance of evacuation in the 'people's war', are also suggested.