Home Front Evacuation timeline
1934 - 1945   As Germany grows stronger Britain begins to make plans for evacuation of women and children from cities and towns. These plans are kept secret.

German plans to take over Czechoslovakia spark fears that war might start. Britain prepares to put its evacuation plan into action. An agreement is reached and war is avoided. Evacuation does not take place.



Offers to accept children from Britain are made by a number of overseas countries. Several thousand children are eventually evacuated overseas.

Summer. Britain starts mass evacuation just before it declares War in September. 1.5 million children, women and some disabled people are moved from large towns and cities into the countryside within three days.

Late 1939. The lack of action over Britain during the period of 'phoney war' convinces many people to return home.

1940 June

As German troops invade Belgium, Holland, and France, fears grow that English towns on the east and south-east coasts will be bombed in air raids. Many children are evacuated from these areas.

30 August The evacuation ship, SS Volendam is torpedoed - all children and other passengers are saved.


Summer - Autumn. Following the Battle of Britain German bombers begin air raids on towns and cities - the Blitz. Many children are evacuated.


17 September Another evacuation ship, City of Benares is torpedoed - 77 children and some 200 adults perish.
30 September The War cabinet decides to halt the government overseas evacuation scheme although private evacuation schemes are allowed to continue.
1944   Germany begins a new wave of bombing British towns and cities using the V1 flying bomb and, later, the V2 rocket. There is much destruction and another big evacuation takes place. This is the last evacuation of the war.

As British and American troops continue to fight their way across Europe, they capture the launching places of the flying bombs and rockets, and stop the bombing of Britain. The last V2 fell on Orpington in Kent on 27 March.

Evacuees begin to return home as the war in Europe draws to a close. Some children had become orphans with parents killed in air raids.