When the Children Came Home
Stories of Wartime Evacuees
Date of publication: March 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
On 1 September 1939 Operation Pied Piper began. Its aim was to place the children of Britain's industrial cities beyond the reach of the Luftwaffe. The figures are breathtaking. One-and-a-half million children, pregnant women and school teachers were evacuated in three days. A further two million children were evacuated privately. It added up to the largest mass evacuation of children in British history and its impact is still felt today.
Some children went abroad, others were sent to hostels or institutions, the majority were billeted with foster families. Some were away for weeks or months, others for years. Homecoming was not always easy and a few described it as more difficult than going away in the first place.
In When the Children Came Home Julie Summers tells the story of what happened when these children returned to their families. She looks at the different waves of British evacuation during the Second World War and considers the situations faced by returning evacuees. She explores how they coped both in the immediate aftermath of the war, and in later life.For some it was a wonderful experience that enriched their whole lives, for others it cast a long shadow, for a few it changed things for ever. Using interviews, written accounts and memoirs, When the Children Came Home weaves together a collection of personal stories to create a warm and compelling portrait of wartime Britain from the children's perspective.