Guernsey Evacuees – The forgotten evacuees of WW2
In June 1940, 17,000 people fled Guernsey for England, including 5,000 schoolchildren with their teachers and 500 mothers as ‘helpers’. The Channel Islands were occupied on 30th June – the only part of the British territory to be occupied by Nazi forces during WW2.
Most evacuees were transported to smoky industrial towns in northern England – an environment so very different to their rural island. For five years they made new lives in towns were the local accent was often confusing, but for most, the generosity shown to them was astounding. They received assistance from Canada and the USA – one Guernsey school was ‘sponsored’ by wealthy Americans such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hollywood stars. From May 1945, the evacuees began to return home, although many decided to remain in England. Wartime bonds were forged between Guernsey and northern England that were so strong they still exist today.
Gillian Mawson’s book paints a vivid picture of life for the evacuees and the families they were sent to. Both enlightening and inspirational, it is a story which cannot fail to move the reader.
by Gillian Mawson
The History Press