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Guernsey Evacuees Paperback – 1 Nov 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752470191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752470191
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 1.3 x 18.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 239,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a writer and historian with a passionate interest in the life stories of ordinary people. Since 2008 I have concentrated on interviewing Second World War evacuees to record and preserve their stories, photographs and documents.
My latest book is 'Evacuees: Childrens Lives on the World War Two Home Front' (Pen and Sword, Sept 2014). It contains 100 personal evacuation stories, with wartime family photographs, collected from all over Britain and beyond. You can find out more about the book, and see some of the stories and photographs here:
https://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/discover-100-evacuation-stories-from-ww2-britain/

My first book was 'Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War' (History Press, 2012) When I discovered that 17,000 Guernsey evacuees had fled to England in June 1940, just before Germany occupied their island for 5 years, I was drawn in by this little known story! The evacuees - mostly children, teachers and mothers - received friendship and help from their English neighbours and also from American and Canadian citizens - one girl was financially supported throughout the war by Eleanor Roosevelt. Many evacuees chose not to return to Guernsey after the war.

I have also written a chapter entitled 'Guernsey Mothers: The Forgotten Evacuees' which appears in the book 'The Home Front in Britain:Images, Myths and Forgotten Experiences 1914-2014' (Palgrave MacMillan, November 2014)

As at April 2015 I have interviewed over 600 evacuees from all over the UK and in Europe. I have also written articles for magazines and newspapers on other historical subjects.

I organise evacuee reunions and run a community group for WW2 Guernsey evacuees living in northern England to enable them to share their wartime stories with people of all ages. I deliver Guernsey Evacuation workshops to schools and often take an evacuee with me to bring the generations together. I give talks to local history and community groups. You can purchase my educational booklets and other items and view our community events at:
http://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/community-project/

My Guernsey website and blog can be found at:
http://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/evacuation/

My general History blog can be found at:
https://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

Product Description

From the Author

To find out more about my Guernsey Evacuation research, prior to the publication of my book in November, take a look at my website:
guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/writing-my-book-blog/

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Brennan on 2 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gillian Mawson makes history come alive in her book Guernsey Evacuees. All the research, all the detail is there, but she also gives us a real taste of the lived experience of the evacuees. This is no dry bones academic book but one that makes the reader feel like they are living through the terror of sudden evacuation, the struggle to survive in an alien country and the long awaited return home.
From the first page, when Valerie Pales describes the German planes overhead as she and her mother are picking potatoes to Jason Pickering's words on the last page "Take this sports bag, and imagine that all you can take is what you can carry in this. Imagine that is all you have..." I was totally engaged. The children's letters, the teachers' diaries, job references and excerpts from the Channel Islands Society Newsletters all added up to an absolutely compelling story.
This is also the story of the many people who opened their homes and hearts to the evacuees. I was particularly moved to learn about John W. Fletcher, an ordinary Lancashire man, who took the evacuees to his heart. He raised funds to make sure that hundreds of evacuees had Christmas presents and was fondly known as 'Uncle Fletcher' by the children.
Gillian Mawson has achieved something amazing in this book. She has respectfully and sensitively given recognition to 17,000 forgotten evacuees. In the process, she has also validated their experience as displaced people in mainland England and upon their return home.
I couldn't put this book down when it first arrived in the post and I look forward to reading it more slowly, and savouring it, over Xmas. If you love living history, the stories of peoples' lives, you will love Guernsey Evacuees.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ivan White on 27 Nov. 2012
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For most of World War Two, the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans. On 15 June 1940, the British government decided that they were of no strategic importance and would not be defended. On 28 June, the Germans sent a squadron of bombers over the islands and bombed the harbours of Guernsey and Jersey. A reconnaissance pilot landed in Guernsey on 30 June and the island officially surrendered to him; Jersey surrendered on 1 July. Alderney, where only a handful of islanders remained, was occupied on 2 July and a small detachment travelled from Guernsey to Sark, which officially surrendered on 4 July.

The Channel Islands served no purpose to the Germans other than the propaganda value of having occupied some British territory. The occupation has been quite well documented since the war, but the story of the evacuation has been somewhat overlooked. Gillian Mawson has now changed all that, at least with respect to Guernsey, with her clearly written and well-paced new book, which researcher Donald Mounts describes as "a riveting story of war and separation".

Gillian has supported well-researched oral testimony with many photographs and documents from the five years of this evacuation. The book is a mine of interesting detail, such as the fact that 300 people were evacuated on a cargo boat licensed to carry only 12, a clear indication of the desperation and urgency of the event. Many evacuees buried valuables in their gardens, houses were left abandoned with the keys still in the doors, and thousands went to the bank to try to draw out their money. There was a desperate rush to obtain suitcases, but the few shops which sold them soon ran out of stock. As a result, many evacuees left Guernsey with just a few possessions crammed into a pillowcase or a tomato basket.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rhiannon Fox on 29 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had been looking forward to this book for some time. When I recieved it I was delighted. I have been teaching History for many years and I hadn't been aware of the plight of the people of Guernsey.
The book is basically brilliant! Gillian shows immense skill as a Historian and social researcher and clearly has a passion for her subject. The research provides the reader with a full insight into the lives of the Guernsey Evacuees. The book is an academic text but Gillian's skill makes it extremely accessible to a much wider audience.
The vast collection of photographs included in the book really bring it all to life. Overall, a thoroughly excellent book and I highly recommend it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. A. Holmes on 29 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
Like many others, I had heard so much about this book through the author's twitter feed and hoped that it would live up to expectations. I received the book two days ago, and have to say that it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

The author clearly lays out the experience that the islanders went through, starting with the rushed evacuation before moving onto their arrival in the mainland, their travel to the North of England (and in some cases Scotland or North Wales) and then their attempts to settle and intergrate into communities. The struggle of each family or school group to find a place to stay and keep together is heart wrenching, but your spirits are lifted by the stories of the locals who came to the islander's aid, raising money and donating items of furniture and clothing. The book also describes how strangers helped the evacuees, schools were moved almost en masse and reformed on the mainland, and how the evacuees eventually returned to their island, along with their struggle to cope with the impact of five years away from their friends, family and home.

Throughout the whole book the author makes extensive use of personal accounts, diaries, photographs, letters, telegrams and documents from the period. Nor does she romanticise the events, telling even of the times when the evacuation experience did not work out well, and how the experience had a negative impact on the family life of many of the islanders, even long after they had returned.

The Channel Island evacuees were almost unique in the sense that their experience was practially a mirror image of most British evacuees. They had lived on a rural island, trains were unknown and towns relatively small.
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