Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

What is an 'Evacuee'?

World War Two affected the lives of people at home (sometimes called the Home Front), as well as those away fighting. British cities were the target of enemy bombing and in the early stages of the war, the threat of invasion was very real. For those who remained in their family home, their daily routines at school and home were also set to change. 


Black and white photo of a line of children walking along a pavement by the side of a fence by a railway track.
Evacuees Arriving at Bingham Station

Children living in cities were at risk from enemy bombing raids, and for this reason, many children were evacuated from cities to rural areas where it was safer. Evacuating thousands of city children was a massive task. Transport and places to stay all had to be arranged. Look at the picture below of evacuees waiting to be evacuated in central Nottingham. You can imagine how difficult it was to find new homes for all these children!

Photograph of evacuees congregating outside in Nottingham.  They are in what looks like a car park, with a line of double decker buses on the road outside.
Evacuees Congregating Outside in Nottingham

Evacuees came to small towns and villages throughout the East Midlands from large cities, such as Sheffield, Nottingham and London. It was a new experience for parents and teachers as well as for the children. Read the extract from the Thurgarton School log book below.  Can you find the part where the writer records the arrival of evacuees from Southend?

Handwritten logbook entry including "yesterday evacues from Southen -on-Sea arrived at Thurgarton.  They reached the school about 9 o-clock and were dispatched to billets as quickly as possible"
Page from the Thurgaton School Log Book

Evacuation could be both exciting and frightening. Each child had a different experience. For some children, being evacuated provided a new and exciting opportunity to enjoy country life.  Read the letter below, written by a Nottinghamshire evacuee. She had a good experience of being evacuated, but not all children did.

A letter home from a Northamptonshire Evacuee.  It starts, "Dear Auntie Beatie, I hope you are all right.  Tomorrow morning we have got to bring some ips for nature study.  I am knitting a pair of slippers in pink and blue wool.
A letter home from a Northamptonshire Evacuee

For some evacuees living with a new family meant getting used to new rules and restrictions and sometimes they did not get on well with their host families. Have a look at this letter from a lady who was upset by an evacuee below to get an idea of the sorts of problems evacuees and their hosts faced.


Handwritten complaint letter about Evacuees.  Part of it reads, "when I came back to my place it was spoilt all over, there was a real smash up".
Complaint Letter about Evacuees



Invasion - (in war) when an enemy tries to take over another country

Opportunity - chance to do something

Restrictions - rules stopping people from doing something

School log - like a diary; a record of events at the school