The mass evacuation of children from major British cities to safer parts of the country was one of the most imaginative plans conceived by the government in the Second World War. In the last few years, the evacuation scheme has been heavily criticised for the traumatic effect it may have had on some young children who were torn from their homes and families to live with strangers, but these criticisms appear, very curiously, to ignore the possible alternative. The trauma of being killed by a German bomb would have been rather more final than life with even the most unsympathetic of foster parents.
I was evacuated with my school in August 1939, first to Suffolk, and then, when the Germans occupied what our headmistress called ‘the low countries’, and the invasion of this country seemed imminent, to a mining valley in South Wales. The decision to extend the scheme by sending children to