Preparation

Operation "Pied Piper" began at 11.07am on Thursday 31st August 1939. In two days, over 1.5 million people were moved to safer areas in the countryside. There were no big bombing raids in Britain during the six first months of the war, so many evacuees returned home. This period was known as the "Phoney War". Large-scale evacuation continued throughout 1940, with smaller ‘waves’ leaving up until September 1944.

Evacuation was voluntary, though public information films and leaflets strongly encouraged parents to send their children away. The evacuation scheme was organised by schools, education authorities, and voluntary organisations. Some parents arranged private evacuation for their children through relatives living in the safer areas or overseas.

In Cornwall

Planning for the influx of vast numbers of children to Cornwall fell mainly to the Cornwall County Education Committee and the District and Borough Councils. In May 1939 the Evacuation sub-committee, with the help of the District Councils and the Women’s Voluntary Services Organisation, became responsible for the organisation of evacuee schools and the billeting of children in local households.

The initial number of evacuees was expected to be 4000, with the eventual total (including mothers and teachers) estimated to be 34,350, mainly from London.

In this section ...

Twins Leaving London

Twins Leaving London

Twin sisters, Pam Scown and Pat Walker, share their memories of leaving London for the Westcountry.

Leaving London

Leaving London

Pauline Jackson Cocking shares her memories of leaving London for "a safe place" in the summer of 1940.

Preparing to Leave

Preparing to Leave

Danny Green shares his memories of preparing to leave London.

War Emergency Instructions

War Emergency Instructions

War Emergency leaflet containing instructions and information for the public including information about plans for evacuation

What The Householder Is Asked To Do

What The Householder Is Asked To Do

Transfer of population in time of war, what the householder is asked to do.

Evacuation - Why and How?

Evacuation - Why and How?

Public information leaflet explaining why and how evacuation would take place

Where Will They Stay?

Where will they stay?

Evacuees were allocated to homes in Cornwall early in 1939, in preparation for war.

Leaving the City

Leaving the City

Animation about leaving the city due to the outbreak of war

London 1942

London 1942

Clip of original footage from public information film, 'London 1942'

Westward Ho!

Westward Ho!

Clip of original footage from public information film, 'Westward Ho!'

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