The next sources I will look at are sources B and E, which are both interviews. Source B is an extract from an interview with a teacher in 1988 in which a teacher remembers being evacuated with children from her school. The extract explains how the children were very scared to leave, and there was hardly any talking, only a murmur because of how afraid they were. It also explains how the parents and children were split up from very early on and the mothers of the children were not allowed to go with the evacuees, so some younger children would have been very upset; however mothers followed the groups to the stations.
The extract also explains that teachers were evacuated with children and that the children and teachers did not know where they were going. This source is useful because it is a first hand account and so the teacher was evacuated and so she knows what happened. This source is also useful because it gives us a better idea of what the atmosphere would have been like when the children had to leave their parents. This source is furthermore useful because it gives us a different aspect of evacuation in the sense that she was actually there being evacuated with the children and so this gives us I brief insight to what her ideas were at the time and what the atmosphere was like. This source is reliable because it is a first hand account from someone who was actually there and therefore she would know what happened.
This source is also reliable because it is not propaganda, for example the government would not want to use this source for propaganda purposes because at the time it would have given the wrong impression, and it tells it as it really was in that it was very stressful and they didn’t know where they were going. However, this source may not be useful because it is a secondary source and the interview took place a long time after the actual events happened. It is an interview, which took place 49 years after the evacuation, so it is not as reliable, because the teacher may have forgotten certain details and because she would have been an old lady she may have also exaggerated certain points. Furthermore, this account may be how it happened, however, this may be her interpretation of the events and so this account may not be very reliable.
It could well be very reliable but we would need to look at similar sources and compare her account with other people who were teachers being evacuated at the time. The purpose of this interview was to gain a first hand account through what is called living history, before this generation of people die out. The teacher was interviewed to find out about evacuation, possibly for an article in a woman’s magazine in what would be called a human-interest story in which people recall real life situations. There could be numerous intended audiences for this extract from an interview. For example, this extract could be part of a newspaper article so that ordinary people can find out about evacuation. It could also be for historians doing research who wanted accounts from people who actually experienced the evacuation to tell them their story.
From the extract it appears that the author feels that peoples feelings were not taken into account during evacuation. Mothers weren’t aloud to walk with their children, they didn’t know where the children were going to and they had to say goodbye by leaning against and shouting through the railings and couldn’t kiss or hug their children goodbye and the parents, living in the cities could have got killed by bomb the next day and would never see their children again. Source E is an extract from a Mass Observation Survey of people’s attitudes to the evacuation of children and it is of person whose child is a possible evacuee.
This source is useful because it gives us an idea to people’s attitudes about evacuating their children as it tells us that people had reservations about sending their children away. It shows us the real feelings of the parents during the War crisis. This extract is also useful because it tells us how people could be worried how their children would be cared for. It is also useful because it tells us how people saw other parts of the country in the war period, in this interview it tells us that the people in London believed that in the shires (Whales and the West) there wasn’t enough food for everybody, even before the war. This source is reliable because it is a primary source from 1940, obtained from a first hand account as it is an interview with a parent, which took place at the time, and so he was there at the time.
It is also reliable because it is from an official survey and so the information that had been collected would not have been altered and would be the actual views in which were exchanged at the time. Furthermore, the person being interviewed is a father of a possible evacuee and this would make the extract reliable because he would have expressed his true feelings. However, this source is not useful because it is just one person’s point of view. To be more useful you would have to compare a number of these interviews as people may have felt differently. Leading on from this, this extract is further not useful because it doesn’t give the view of people who wanted to send their children. This extract may also not be reliable because the parent may be emotionally involved and may so be defiant about sending his child to be evacuated.
The main purpose of this interview is to survey and find out about peoples attitudes towards evacuation. However, the government may have furthermore conducted this survey in order to find out why not everybody is sending their children out to be evacuated. Therefore, if the Government found out the reason to why people were not sending their children then they may have been able to correct this. The intended audience for this interview is the government so that they can find out peoples attitudes towards evacuation. It was not for open publication but historians have manages to dig it out.
This extract shows that people were against evacuation and preferred their children to stay with them despite of the dangers. According to this extract, they felt that there was plenty of people around them, family and friends who would look after their children if they themselves were to get killed. The two sources are similar in the sense that they are actual real people conveying people’s attitudes towards evacuation. These two sources are similar in the respect that they both give a very different viewpoint or picture of evacuation. For example, source B explains how people’s feelings were not taken into account during evacuation and source E in a way supplements this with an extract from an interview in which a man is defiant about sending his child off to be evacuated.
The final source I will examine is source C, which is a novel extract. This extract is from Carrie’s War, a novel for children written by Nina Bowden in 1973. This extract briefly goes into the different social classes of evacuees as it compares the poor and wealthy. This source is useful because it briefly goes into the expectations of host families that all children would be poor. For example the foster parents are not entirely sure of the evacuee’s situation and she makes an assumption that they are too poor to afford a pair of slippers although the real reason she doesn’t have slippers, is because the amount of items they were allowed to take with them, and the children who are actually from a wealthy background, start to giggle.
The extract is also useful because shows that the children in the novel were understanding of their foster parents, as they didn’t answer back about the slippers, but just giggle about it, this may have been the case with most of the children or it may have just been the case with the more well off children as they may have had better manners. The source may be reliable because the author, Nina Bowden, may have researched the attitudes and expectations of the host families and the evacuee children before writing her novel.
However, the extract is not useful because it is from a book, which was written after the War, in 1973, after the time and so she wasn’t there and this makes the extract not useful as she may not have known much about evacuation, she may have just made it up for her story. Also, it is a novel – a story, not a biography and it is not really even a secondary source and so the information in the extract may not be true at all as such it might not be that reliable. Also, the person who wrote this extract is a novelist and so she would change the storyline to suit her book and this would not only make the extract unreliable.
This is also quite an unreliable source, because we are not sure when the author was born, or if she had any part in evacuation. The purpose of the story in which this extract is from is to entertain children as it is from a children’s book. It gives a child’s eye view of evacuation and so the information is going to be twisted in order to suit the story. The intended audience for the story in which this extract is from is children and so the author of the story is not going to dwell on horrible things and will keep the content light. There is not really sufficient information in this extract in which to pick out an attitude. However, this extract is giving the attitude that the evacuation was like an adventure for some children. The story would give this attitude, as it would make the story more interesting for the younger readers for whom it is intended.
In conclusion, there are differing attitudes towards evacuation depending on who is doing the writing and what audience it is aimed at. From the Governments viewpoint when trying to produce propaganda to encourage people to evacuate children, the evacuation is seen as a great adventure and everybody is happy to go. Whereas when people who are actually involved in the evacuation process talk about evacuation, you get a very different viewpoint, in this case people didn’t know where they were being evacuated to, children were afraid, mothers were unable to walk with them and some parents preferred their children to stay with them throughout the war.