Evacuation was the period during the war when children were sent away from the cities to the safety of the countryside for an unknown period of time, in order to be away from the danger of bomb raids and blitzes. It meant homesickness and heartache for city families and a lot of disruption to the routine of country families. To bring this aspect of the war to life, the Hindhead Year 6 pupils had a genuine evacuation experience, leaving their homes and their families and travelling as a class, with their teachers, to Swansea Campus.
The evacuees arrived on a Monday morning, not knowing where they would be billeted. The Swansea Primary pupils represented the Home Guard and received the evacuees, acting out the choosing process. The evacuees attended Swansea Campus for the next two days, trying out a range of war-related activities and staying overnight with unknown host families.
A lot was packed into the visit including a musical performance by Swansea primary students, comprising of several wartime songs. The Hindhead students performed a play that they had written themselves, based on Edna’s Wartime Diary. The children had worked hard to do everything themselves, from deciding on the layout, the choreography, the music and the script, to making all the scene changes without even needing a curtain. There were many different scenes, each depicting a particular part of the war, including evacuation, air raids, the Home Guard and “Dig for Victory” and the whole play was over an hour long. Congratulations Hindhead: it was a truly fantastic performance!
The students also paid a visit to Gwili railway for the full evacuation experience on the train. Here, the children were subjected to a very realistic health check by the district nurse, who inspected their hands and nails and examined their heads for lice.
Their trip was rounded off with a visit to a 1940s museum and a chip shop lunch on the beach. After staying away for 3 days Hindhead pupils then were more than ready to be returned to their home towns.
This was a unique experience and it really demonstrated to both pupils and parents how challenging evacuation must have been.