A Forgotten British Wartime Story

003Child evacs BReade StoTHall

The Second World War Guernsey Evacuation to England, Scotland and Wales has almost been forgotten by many in the UK. I am proud to announce that I have written a book for The History Press, to tell the story of these 17,000 overlooked evacuees.

The Guernsey Evacuation story is history about real people who lived in our streets, went to our schools, and who helped Britain by undertaking vital war work when the threat of German invasion was very real. Many remained in the England after the war, and are now a permanent part of our community.

Luckily some of them are still amongst us and I am fortunate enough to be able to record these stories, share them with the public and preserve them for future generations to hear.

Since May 2008, I have been interviewing hundreds of children, teachers and mothers who fled Guernsey to mainland Britain in June 1940, just a few days prior to the German Occupation of the Channel Islands. The Channels Islands are part of British territory, and in June 1940, around 17,000 residents left their homes, and all of their possessions, behind. My research has concentrated on the many thousands that arrived in the industrial towns of Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. Hundreds then moved into Derbyshire, whilst others were scattered throughout the UK. Many travelled as far as Scotland. The evacuees spent several weeks in Evacuee Reception Centres, before being provided with local accommodation.

Over 5,000 Guernsey children were evacuated with their Teachers, along with 500 Guernsey mothers who acted as ‘teachers helpers’. Most of the children did not see their parents again for five long years and some never returned home after the war. Some of the evacuated Guernsey Headteachers re-established their schools in England, in order to keep the pupils and teachers together throughout the war. A number of Guernsey families also escaped the island during the actual German occupation.

Guernsey people who had previously emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, raised funds for the Guernsey evacuees in England (click on my ‘Canada’ page) One Guernsey school in Cheshire, England, was supported by the Foster Parent Plan for Children Affected By War – the pupils were each ‘sponsored’ by wealthy American citizens, including Eleanor Roosevelt and a number of Hollywood film stars. I worked with the BBC on a short documentary on this Guernsey school:
see: my ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’ page on this website.

My interviews with evacuees, and document searches, have revealed emotional stories from both children and adult evacuees, regarding the actual evacuation, their five years on the British mainland, cut off from friends and family on Guernsey, and of their return to Guernsey in 1945. Sadly, many had difficulty bonding with their own families after such a long separation. I have worked with the BBC on several documentarues, and created a short evacuation film with Diane Rickerby of Bury Archives. I also run a community group for Guernsey evacuees in England, to enable them to share their stories with the community through school workshops, and museums. SEE MY COMMUNITY PROJECT PAGE FOR DETAILS

I provide workshops to schools and colleges, and give talks to groups, for a negotiable fee. Please take a look at my Schools pages, Talks and Events page, and my Shop page, for further information

To order my book
‘Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War’

from from amazon (and read some for free) click on:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Guernsey-Evacuees-Gillian-Mawson/dp/0752470191/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345040949&sr=1-1

You can view the short book trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR0uXCBCFHc&feature=youtu.be

MY SECOND BOOK, WHICH CONTAINS 100 BRITISH EVACUATION STORIES (INCLUDING A HANDFUL FROM THE CHANNEL ISLANDS) WILL BE PUBLISHED ON 30 SEPTEMBER 30TH 2014 BY PEN AND SWORD BOOKS. PLEASE CLICK ON MY ‘BRITISH EVACUEES’ PAGE TO PREVIEW SOME OF THE STORIES AND FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS. http://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/britains-evacuees/

You can contact me by filling in the ‘comment’ box at the foot of this webpage.

Are you one of these Guernsey children, evacuated on The Viking? Please contact me if so!

49 Responses to A Forgotten British Wartime Story

  1. Pingback: The Oral History of the the Guernsey Evacuation of 1940 « The Oral History Noticeboard

  2. Bill Reid says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I knew the original story and it is incredibly touching.

  3. Rachel Hargreaves says:

    My Mother, Maureen Howe (Nee Le Poidevin) I believe was on the last or one of the last boats from Guernsey. She was aged 5 and only with her mother Eunice Le Poidevin and a sewing machine!They never returned to Guernsey. She remembers quite a lot about it.Her brother left with school and they didnt see him for quite a while. Thanks Rachel Hargreaves

    • mbjssgpm says:

      Hello Rachel thank you so much for your message. I would love to know more about your Mother’s story if that were possible? Please send me your email address through this ‘comments’ box which I will keep private. Gill

  4. Veronica Mensch says:

    I have just begun to use Google+ specifically for my BOXALL (and variant) One Name Study and while setting up some connections with the Guild of One Name Studies I came across a small segment about your research on Julie Goucher’s circle and she forwarded your details. Here is my interest in your research.

    My father, William Falla Lane(was Louvet), left Guernsey and joined the British Army. I don’t believe any of his Louvet siblings left. As William was old enough to join the Army I would imagine that his half siblings were much older and maybe had families of their own and may have had children evacuated. As you see I know very little about my father’s family for good reason. William returned to Guernsey with his common-law wife about 1954 after walking out on my Mum and five children. All I know about him is he was the last to be born after his mother’s husband, Alphonse Louvet, died. His father, as far as I have worked out, was William Thomas Falla. I would be really interested if you come across any of these names in your research. Thank you.

    A big thank you for reminding us of this part of history that many either don’t know about or have never been heard of this occupation by the German Army.

    Regards
    Ronnie Mensch

    • mbjssgpm says:

      HI Veronica, thank you so much for your story. Sadly I have not as yet come across the name Louvet, but if it crops up in the future, I will get in touch with you at once. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
      Gill :)

    • Peter Guilbert says:

      Hi Ronnie – I am related to the Louvet family through a cousin who married Peter Louvet and I understand he was a son of Alphonse. If you want more please email me. Regards Peter

  5. mcauthor says:

    My aunt by marriage (now deceased) went to England as an adult for the length of the occupation, the rest of the family stayed and while not evacuated were very much in touch with the “situation”.
    I am so glad you are writng this book, the Nazi invasion of Jersey is so much a part of our family history.

  6. I have to say that I had not realised so much about Guernsey and its involvement in the war until I read the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato peel Pie society. Although its a fictional story it did give some insight into Guernsey’s plight.

    • mbjssgpm says:

      Thank for taking the time to send me your comment, yes the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel book gives an insight into the plight of Guernsey, hopefully you will enjoy my book for its true stories too. There is also a list of further books to read at the end of the book. Gill

    • mbjssgpm says:

      Hi thank you so much for your comment and you are right. I hope that anyone who enjoyed the WW2 aspect of that book will find mine most enjoyable.

  7. Stuart Little says:

    Have you spoken to Ernie or George Sauvage – a whole family evacuated to Halifax

  8. Gillian, I really admire you for undertaking such a massive project. The world needs more people like you, recording and saving our history.I wish you every success!

  9. Amy says:

    I’m very excited for your book to come out. After reading the fictional book on Guernsey, it’ll be great to read real stories from actual evacuees!

  10. mike cowling says:

    I am going to look for the book but was wondering if there were records kept of names on boats and where they came onto the main land.
    My father and some of his family left guernsey
    don’t know when but love to know
    roy guilbert cowling was his name

    thanks

    mike cowling

    • mbjssgpm says:

      hi Mike as far as I know the lists of names of those on the boats were destroyed when the Germans landed in Guernsey, so that they would not have personal information about which evacuees had left. I unfortunately have not come across the name Roy Guilbert Cowling either as yet. Can you give me his age and which area he lived in at the time in Guernsey?

  11. donraymedia says:

    What an intriguing and touching story. Thanks so much for doing this important research and for making it available to the world.

  12. Thanks for this, Gill. I am going to add your book to a huge pile on my to-be-read list. I read the book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and was drawn to the plight of those people on the Channel Islands during WWII. Looking forward to the read. A similar but much less momentous story is of the boys from England who came to Ontario, specifically one to our farm through my Dad and another to his friend’s farm. These young English boys, really, needed a new start for various reasons, and got those starts here in Ontario. I just met the daughter on one of them in the musical I was in. She was in the orchestra and we both marveled about that whole concept of starting life in a new land and its ramifications. Don’t you just love people stories?

    • mbjssgpm says:

      hi Elaine, thanks for your message and what a wonderful story about the english Boys in Canada! I agree that it is just wonderful to hear these people stories, they are timeless. The Guernsey evacuees have thanks to give to Canadian people as they raised thousands of dollars for them during the Second World War, as mentioned in book. I still need to find out more about their efforts but have made a start. Gill :)

  13. Pingback: Wartime in the Derbyshire Snow « DERBYSHIRE LIVES THROUGH THE WORLD WARS

  14. carolynquinn says:

    This book sounds like exactly the sort of book I will LOVE! I have long been intrigued by the experience of non-combatants in WWII. Will order this immediately!

  15. Thank you Gillian. A great site and a great job of keeping British history alive.

  16. Nell Rose says:

    This is such a touching story, and living in England I have watched this on various programmes, but not in this detail. It was such a horrible time. My mother was in the Airforce and my dad in the Army back then and I heard many tales of children especially leaving home for five or more years. In fact my gran had at least six evacuee children staying with her. And in fact ten years ago one of them found her and got in touch! that was amazing. Great to see these haven’t been forgotten.

  17. E.C. says:

    I knew a little girl from Guernsey in my class at school in Galashiels, Scotland . Her name was Margot Hubert, and I well remember her.

  18. this is really impressive , well done for such a fantastic work and a massive project you have done i admire your courage and determination to !!!

  19. Mike Cowling says:

    just seen a reply by peter guilbert to a ronnie and just wondered if i could contact peter re family…
    my great grandparents were charles guilbert married to anna maria guilbert and a daughter named ellen h guilbert just wandering if we are realeted

    thanks mike cowling
    mikecjandsarah@googlemail.com

  20. Michael Rose says:

    Gillian, the story of your research in the latest Guernsey Society Review makes brilliant reading and I am so delighted to read it… your work has been fantastic and you deserve all the praise you receive !
    I am sorry not to have been more help but my grand-mother, mother, brother and I stayed together pretty well throughout the evacuation. Prior to that, Peter and I were at the Froebel School in Guernsey and I presume they did not have an “evacuation club” like Elizabeth College & the Ladies College & others? If I’m wrong, do please let me know.
    If you have seen Gary Blanchford’s new book “Guernsey’s Occupation Ambulance Service” my father is quoted on pages 50 & 51, but on page 216 you will see the Ford V8 Shooting Brake, unique to Guernsey, owned by the Froebel in which we were taken to school but which ended up as an ambulance…..
    I see you were close to Joan Ozanne who was a one-time girlfriend of mine, but ended up married to another friend, George Foote with whom I walked to Elizabeth College every day for years as we lived fairly close. We are still in fairly regular contact with each other …..
    Your work has been wonderful and you deserve the fame that has been awarded to you. Very best wishes, Michael Rose xxx

    • mbjssgpm says:

      Hello Michael and thank you very much indeed for your kind message. I hae not seen the new book you mention but will certainly add it to my huge wish list of books. My very best wishes to you. Gill :) (Ps I am just completing a new book on 100 British evacuation stories, you can read more about it on my other website: http://whaleybridgewriter.blogspot.co.uk/ My best wishes to you Michael. Gill :)

  21. David Perrio says:

    Hi Gill,I’m just about to order your book ,my late dad (Roy Perrio) and his whole family were evacuated but he never really spoke about what happened other family have told me bits so I look forward to reading it.

  22. james says:

    Hello, My mother Ena Fawkes age 6 and Uncle John Fawkes age 4 were evacuated from Guernsey back to England by way of a long train ride to an orphanage in Scotland. She would like
    to know if anyone knew what ever happened to her fathers best friend that he left behind when he too had to leave. His friend had a French name but were not certain on the spelling sounds like
    Mr Mot-e-aye.thanks

    • mbjssgpm says:

      Hello and thank you for your comment. I hope someone will read it and be able to help you. I have no information on anyone with that name, but if I find anything in the future, I will contact you at once. Gill

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