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Guernsey Evacuees [Paperback]

Gillian Mawson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Nov 2012
In June 1940, 17,000 people fled Guernsey to England, including 5,000 school children with their teachers and 500 mothers as 'helpers'. The Channel Islands were occupied on 30 June - the only part of British territory that was occupied by Nazi forces during the Second World War. Most evacuees were transported to smoky industrial towns in Northern England - an environment so very different to their rural island. For five years they made new lives in towns where the local accent was often confusing, but for most, the generosity shown to them was astounding. They received assistance from Canada and the USA - one Guernsey school was 'sponsored' by wealthy Americans such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hollywood stars. From May 1945, the evacuees began to return home, although many decided to remain in England. Wartime bonds were forged between Guernsey and Northern England that were so strong, they still exist today.

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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 17 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 308,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a writer and historian with an avid interest in the life stories of ordinary people. Since 2008 I have been interviewing Second World War evacuees to record and preserve their stories, photographs and documents.
My new book is entitled 'Evacuees: Childrens Lives on the World War Two Home Front' (Pen and Sword, Sept 2014). It contains 100 evacuation stories, with 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:

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

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 the Nazis occupied their island for 5 years, I was hooked! The evacuees also received help their English neighbours, and also from American and Canadian citizens - one girl was financially supported throughout the war by Eleanor Roosevelt. As at May 2014 I have interviewed 350 evacuees both here in England, and in Guernsey - many chose not to return to Guernsey after the war.

I have written articles for magazines and newspapers on other historical subjects.

I also run a community group for 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. You can view our events at:

My Guernsey website and blog can be found at:

My general History blog can be found at:

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:

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful insight 5 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I originally bought this for my dad, who was one of the guernsey evacuees, but my aunty bought one too, so I had the book and decided to read it myself. I had often heard stories from my dad about the evacuation, but this was a fantastic and insightful read, giving lots of different prospective from all ages of people involved. I also found out some thing that I didn't know and couldn't wait to "grill" my family.
I would recommend this book, to anyone who is interested in, not only the history of the war and evacuees, but anyone who likes to read about people's experiences.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History comes alive! 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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Book! 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "War isn't just about soldiers and tanks." 27 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History that must not be forgotten 13 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is written in such an interesting way it is difficulr to put it down. The characters are real people,who as children where evacuated from Guernsey, by sea, in June, 1940 to the UK.. The Occupation of the island seemed inevitable as the German Army was in Cherbourg a few miles from the island.
Gillian Mawson has interviewd hundreds of people about their experiences during the five years they were away from home, living with foster families.. Most are pleasant stories of children living happily, others sadly were not so happy. Some young people chose not to return to the island when the war ended. Their experiences too make a very interesting read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book still makes me cry...
My father was evacuated from Guernsey to Oldham in 1940 and his life was never the same again. Gillian gets into the hearts of the evacuees and shows a special understanding that... Read more
Published 4 months ago by guernsey girl
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book you can't put down
I bought this book for my eleven year old son who was doing a topic at school on world war 2. He normally has to be nagged to read, but after only a few pages in he couldn't put... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Samantha Lockwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable social history
I was one of those evacuees. Gillian has done a service to social history by contacting people both in Guernsey and in North West England, now mostly in their seventies or older... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dr. Nicholas Le Poidevin
5.0 out of 5 stars A living story
I bought this book for my mother, whose family took in one of the Guernsey evacuees. My family is included in the book, with a photograph of my mother and her temporary... Read more
Published 13 months ago by cjh
5.0 out of 5 stars Real life stories excellently written
Gill Mawson's book is a delight real people come to life off the page with quotes from their childhood as Evacuees. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Pj Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely present
I bought this as a present for my father - but his birthday is in April, so he hasn't seen it yet. He loves Manchester and Guernsey though, so I'm sure he'll love it
Published 17 months ago by Sue Millner
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Very well researched, well written and interesting as I was a Guernsey evacuee during the war ! So many photos was a great benefit .....
Published 17 months ago by moremawr
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting and moving read
Clear, concise , factual, moving, how many adjectives apply here? One of the most interesting and informative reads I have had in years. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mike Gailey
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful present for my father!
I bought this for my father for Christmas, and I've just been talking to him about it - he's nearly finished it and he loves it. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Terry Tyler, author
5.0 out of 5 stars Guernsey Evacuees.
Being an evacuee myself from Birmingham, I could share the traumor the Guersney evacuees were feeling through Gillians fabulous book. Read more
Published 18 months ago by rita roberts
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