The biggest mass movement of people in British history

The biggest mass movement of people in British history

Evacuation in Britain during the Second World War amounted to the biggest mass movement of people in British history, with around 4 million people leaving their homes to escape the air raids of the Blitz. Many children didn't know where they would end up, who they would live with or when they would see their parents again. How did it feel to be an evacuee, a parent or a volunteer host? And how did the government organise the mammoth task of Operation Pied Piper? IWM Curator Alan Jeffreys tells us more.

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Women Wanted for Evacuation Service poster © IWM (Art.IWM PST 15092)
Women Wanted for Evacuation Service poster © IWM (Art.IWM PST 15092)
Second World War
The Evacuated Children Of The Second World War
Evacuation took place in several waves. The first came on 1 September 1939 - the day Germany invaded Poland and two days before the British declaration of war. Over the course of three days 1.5 million evacuees were sent to rural locations considered to be safe.
Thumbnaiil make do and mend
Second World War
Make Do and Mend, 1943
From June 1941 until 1949, buying new clothes was rationed in Britain. This newsreel trailer, made by the Ministry of Information in 1943, is called ‘Make Do and Mend’, introduced by film curator Michelle Kirby.
Winston Churchill holding a white flag with the text "We surrender".
Second World War
Could the Blitz have made Britain surrender?
London, Coventry, Manchester and many more were bombed. But could the Blitz have worked? In this episode of IWM Stories, Senior Curator Ian Kikuchi answers that very question by looking at one the deadliest nights of the Blitz, the bombing of Coventry.