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When the Children Came Home: Stories of Wartime Evacuees

When the Children Came Home: Stories of Wartime Evacuees [Kindle Edition]

Julie Summers
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'A remarkable collection of stories...a rich and moving book...time and again, I found myself so moved by passages in the book that when I tried to read them out to my wife, I had to keep pausing and take deep breaths. As ever, the tales of pure kindness are the most powerful of all' --Mail on Sunday

'Fascinating' --Daily Mail

'A brilliant new book' --Daily Express

Product Description

On 1 September 1939 Operation Pied Piper began. Its aim was to place the children of Britain's industrial cities beyond the reach of the Luftwaffe. The figures are breathtaking. One-and-a-half million children, pregnant women and school teachers were evacuated in two days. A further two million children were evacuated privately, and some of these children went abroad.
Operation Pied Piper was well coordinated and highly efficient. In total, over a four year period, in excess of three and a half million children were removed from areas in Britain vulnerable to attack or invasion. It added up to the largest mass evacuation of children in British history and although by and large it worked, its impact is still felt today.
With a mix of vivid narrative and illuminating social history Evacuees tells the story of those children and the families they left behind. Many of those evacuated never knew if or when they would see their parents again. Many of them had no idea about life outside the city, and almost all were homesick. It was distressing for the parents and bewildering for little siblings left behind.
Evacuees also looks at the situations faced by returning evacuees and explores how they coped both in the immediate aftermath of the war, and in later life.
Using interviews, written accounts and memoirs, Evacuees weaves together a collection of personal stories to create a compelling portrait of wartime Britain.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 998 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (3 Mar 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004QWZ40Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #158,202 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Julie Summers was born in Liverpool but grew up in Cheshire. Her first book, Fearless on Everest, published in 2000, was a biography of her great uncle, Sandy Irvine, who died on Everest with Mallory in 1924. Her grandfather, Philip Toosey, was the man behind the Bridge on the River Kwai and her biography of him appeared in 2005. Fascinated by how people cope with extreme situations, she has turned her attention on the effect of the Second World war on non-combatants - the women and children. Recently she published Jambusters, the story of the WI in wartime.

She describes herself as a biographer and historian but the most important thing for her is to be a story teller.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming history, the best 23 Mar 2011
Based on interviews, archive material and memoirs, this delightful book tells the true stories of the 3 million British children evacuated during World War II from its bomb-ravaged cities to the safety of the countryside. For most, it saved their lives, but it changed them forever. Most poignant are those who, having struggled to cope with rural life, then found they could not readjust at home: the child who had come to love snowdrops, the boy who could no longer bear the noise of his overcrowded slum family, the many children who returned to a recognition of how dirty and limited their home lives really were. The foster parents varied from dire to people with hearts of gold, and they were changed too. I loved the story of the bachelor in Herts with an East End Jewish family who joined in their festivals, even doing the Yom Kippur fast, though the year he started off with bacon he suffered terrible thirst all day! Today it all seems so strange, almost callous: we would not so readily send our children away. But we have not faced the same dangers, which Julie Summers makes real. A lovely book and a great read.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The stories of WW2 Evacuees 12 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is about the mass evacuation of children and often their mothers from our Cities during WW2 and the long term effects on family life. It is a must read for anyone interested in what became of those children and their families after the war had ended. There were 4 mass evacuations and Julie Summers provides a detailed account of each of these and the monumental achievement of those involved. The facts and figures have been thoroughly researched, and this is an achievement in itself. The icing on the cake though are the real stories told by the evacuee children themselves. Now in their 60's and 70's they all say that their experiences profoundly affected them for the rest of their lives. Most of the stories are heart warming accounts of the war time spirit and the desperation of parents wanting to safeguard their children You will weep for those who suffered the sinking of the SS City of Benares and wonder at those who escaped from the invading Japanese in the Far East. Some stories give a shocking account of the abuse that some children experienced when placed with unsuitable foster parents, whilst for others it was the time of their lives. Highly recommended for its insight into the desperate years of WW2 and the profound effects that still ripple through our society today.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the children came home. 22 Mar 2011
By Barnaby
A compelling story of the experiences of 2nd World War evacuees. The beauty of this telling is that the Author is able to empathise with the children, the parents, and the foster parents. Taking on a child for 4 years or even less was a huge emotional responsibility and left its mark in the lives of all who were part to it. The parents, missing so much of their child's life and having an adolescent stranger return to the house. The children, many of whom missed the foster homes dearly when they left to return to slums, and the foster parents themselves who formed very strong emotional bonds to the children. The thought of bringing someone into your life for 4 years and then having them snatched away forever without any notice is a truly haunting one.

Somehow the author manages to bring together all of these stories with an understanding that helps mould them together and allows the reader to come to terms with the hardships and happiness endured and felt by everyone in the book. Truly inspirational reading.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the children came home 22 Mar 2011
By DocP
A book of this nature has been long overdue. The true story of the evacuation of British children during World War Two has been a topic that has really only been investigated fully in the last few years and, although plenty has been said about the going away and staying in the reception areas, little has been said about the children coming home and the impact it had, both on the children themselves, the family they returned to, and indeed the foster family they left behind.
Julie has skillfully woven together an inticrate strand of historical fact, personal accounts and human emotion, to produce an excellent account of life at the time and the effects post-war. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Julie at her best 23 Mar 2011
Julie Summers finds yet another fascinating angle from which to look at the effects of war on people - this time the evacuees who were sent out of the areas of England thought to be at risk of Invasion, Blitz and Doodlebug. They were despatched far and wide, some into the countryside, a surprising number abroad. They experienced the good and the bad, and in many cases came back to a home they really did not recognise. Moving stories, well researched and beautifully told. This is a book that will stir up memories for many families who were involved, and is well worth adding to your must read list.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evacuees remembered 23 Mar 2011
Altogether, an interesting read and a very well researched book. It adds new dimensions to a familiar theme and makes an important contribution to the History of Child Evacuation in World War Two. Good too to see coverage of the Far East evacuees from Malaya, Singapore & Hong Kong.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and Informative 19 Feb 2012
By Helen
Julie Summers' book "When the Children Came Home" is a well researched account of the large scale evacuations of Britain's children during World War II. As such it complements Gwen Southgate's book Coin Street Chronicles, a page turning, detailed memoir of just one evacuee. The early chapters of When the Children Came Home tended to merge one into another with so many short and somewhat similar first hand accounts. I found the later chapters to be more gripping and coherent. One whole chapter was devoted to the torpedoed ship, the City of Benares, and this was a dramatic and moving account. Julie Summers dealt usefully with the emotional side effects of evacuation on both parents and children and she approached the distressing subject of child abuse in a way that illuminated but did not sensationalize the topic. I would highly recommend reading both books: Julie Summers' with her broad overview and historic perspective and Gwen Southgate's vivid personal memoir of the 1930s and 1940s. Coin Street Chronicles: Memoirs of an Evacuee from London's Old South Bank
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving accounts of children of WWII
This is a very moving account of the experiences of many children who were evacuated from London during WWII. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eliza Conquest
5.0 out of 5 stars When the Children Came Home
As an evacuee this book brought back so many memories of my time away from home, especially with regard to the thoughts of a missed parent. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Stirling
5.0 out of 5 stars when the children came home
Around 3 million children were evacuated during WW2. Some very heart warming memories also heart breaking memories in this book . Read more
Published 9 months ago by vikki
5.0 out of 5 stars When the children came home
I read this book as part of the research for two children's stories about being evacuees in World War Two. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mary Millard
4.0 out of 5 stars Children born before WW11
Amazing stories. I was born during the war but I wasn't evacuated although we lived near the coast in Essex.The children of today should hear and read these stories.
Published 13 months ago by Mr B. R. Clapp
5.0 out of 5 stars Bit rambling but so interesting
This is a really interesting book, full of facts and personal stories. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to anyone interested in this period of our history.
Published 14 months ago by K. Booth
4.0 out of 5 stars Never forget
This should be considered as a book for present day schoolchildren.Then used as a discussion point regarding how well off they are now!!!
Published 15 months ago by Mrs. Margaret G. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars moving and highly informative
I have maybe a slightly different background to bring to this book. I am an American. Our history classes teach us WWII, but this aspect of it is rarely mentioned and certainly... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Robert A. Bowers
4.0 out of 5 stars Evacuees
I haven't read this yet, but I have had a quick browse and it seems great. Delivery was quick and no problems. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Dancing Queen
5.0 out of 5 stars When The Children Came Home
I have a great interest in both world wars and the evacuation of children which took place during both wars, loved the photographs, Nothing that wasn't already known but well... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Zulu Warrior
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