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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LCC/EO/WAR
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1908-1954
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 11.37 linear metres
Name of creator(s): LCC | London County Council x London County Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

Plans and preparations for the evacuation of civilian populations from vulnerable areas had been made well before the war. London was regarded as the main target, and the general belief was that hostilities would start with an immediate series of heavy aerial bombardments. During the Munich crisis of September 1938 about 4000 children from nursery and special schools were sent by ambulance to camps and residential schools outside London. They were brought back within a month, the crisis having passed. This experience was to prove useful.

In January 1939 a special evacuation division of the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education, with the help of officers of the Council, made detailed plans. Schoolchildren, children under five with their mothers, expectant mothers, and blind adults were treated as priority classes. Transport was planned for moving a million and a quarter people from London. In August 1939 the Council announced that 600,000 people had been evacuated without mishap. By Christmas 1939 no serious air attacks had occurred, and a large number of the evacuees had returned to London. In June 1940, with the increasing threat of air-raids, the exodus from London recommenced, although this time the priority classes were encouraged to make their own arrangements; free travel vouchers were issued and billeting allowances paid. The constant problem was to check the drift back to London whenever there was a lull in the raids, to be followed by another exodus when the air raids started again.

The evacuation encountered many difficulties and criticisms. It did, however, undoubtedly save the lives of thousands of children. The London children and the residents of the countryside were brought into sudden and closer awareness of each other. The way of life of the slum dwellers was startlingly revealed, giving added impetus to the movement for a reconstruction of London to provide better living conditions for its citizens.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the London County Council Education Officer's Department relating to emergency wartime measures, including evacuation, 1908-1954.

Subject and policy files relating to evacuation including historical record of the evacuation operation up to 1943; statutory basis of evacuation scheme; acceleration of civil defence measures; Air Raid Defence League; correspondence with other metropolitan authorities; correspondence with authorities in reception areas; circular letters to schools; Government publications on evacuation; inter-departmental conferences; circulars issued by local education authorities in the reception areas; tests and rehearsals; signals and messages; reports by Inspectors on emergency re-assembly; statistics; staffing and organisation; care and use of gas masks; identification measures and equipment; education of evacuated children; propaganda drive and possibility of compulsory evacuation; communal activities for evacuated women; aliens evacuated to restricted areas; employment of school children on harvest work; railway facilities for visits by parents to the reception areas; visits by relatives in cases of sickness or death; 1940 Scheme for provision of boots and clothing; subsistence allowances for teachers and other staff; billeting arrangements; recovery of expenses from parents in some circumstances; Plan IV, the second large-scale evacuation operation in June 1940; Plan V, the 'trickle' evacuation after June 1940; Plan VI, the large-scale evacuation on advent of heavy bombing; Plan VII, the evacuation of homeless children with their parents; Children's Overseas Reception Scheme; special scheme for evacuation of certain coastal areas; the 'Rivulet' evacuation operation in case of resumption of aerial attacks, put into effect in July 1944 after commencement of fly-bomb raids; refugee students; Christmas parties in the reception areas, Christmas Treats Fund; Advisory Committee on Evacuation of School children (Ministry of Health); Education Officer's Advisory Committee on Evacuation; Confidential Bulletins (Secretariat File); transport arrangements; criticisms of the evacuation arrangements; 'The Schools in Wartime', Board of Education Memoranda numbers 1 to 35; Board of Education circulars; Ministry of Health circulars; LCC Evacuation Bulletins; BBC broadcast talks and announcements concerning evacuation; anecdotes from evacuation period; closing down of evacuation scheme; return arrangements on close-down of evacuation scheme; administration in the reception areas; correspondence relating to the 'Official History of World War II' Education volume.

Subject and policy files relating to the evacuation of special categories of evacuees (special schools, nursery schools, mothers and under-fives, open air schools, mentally disabled children, approved schools and remand homes, diabetic children, hospital schools, blind persons, refugee children, aged and infirm persons, Jewish school children, expectant mothers), including holiday camps used for special evacuees; circular letter concerning evacuation arrangements for special parties; juvenile delinquency on the part of London evacuees; reports by medical inspectors on physically and mentally defective children in evacuation camps; evacuation to Northern Ireland; evacuation to Ireland; and winding up of evacuation scheme for special parties and nurseries.

Subject and policy files on schools remaining in London, including air raid circulars issued to schools during the First World War; census of children in London; children returning to London; steps taken to check drift back to London; weekly estimates of children in London; re-opening of schools in London; emergency schools in London; re-imposition of compulsory attendance; reports by inspectors on school conditions during the period of "flying-bomb" attacks; air raid precautions in schools; adaptations in school premises to provide first aid posts; use of school premises by the Civil Defence services; damage to schools and post-war reconstruction; war production work in technical institutions; war-time day nurseries and play centres; report on the standard of attainment at wartime elementary schools in London; victory celebrations.

Photographs and press cuttings relating to the evacuation of children and schools; school diaries and log books; school magazines; posters (double crown size) connected with various aspects of the evacuation scheme; Directory of London Schools in the Reception Areas; outline map showing distribution of London's evacuated school children; transport schedules prepared by Divisional Dispersals Officers; Ministry of Health handbook on billeting and welfare for the use of Chief Billeting Officers; 'The Schools in Wartime', booklet published by Ministry of Education; publicity material.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

LCC/EO/WAR/01: Evacuation general papers; LCC/EO/WAR/02: Special categories of evacuees; LCC/EO/WAR/03: Schools in London; LCC/EO/WAR/04: Photographs and press cuttings; LCC/EO/WAR/05: Miscellaneous.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of its parent body, the London County Council.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

For further information on the history of the LCC please see Achievement: A Short History of the London County Council by W Eric Jackson (1965), LMA Library reference 18.0 1965, The London County Council 1938, LMA Library reference 18.7 SER 4, and The Youngest County: A description of London as a county and its public services, 1951, LMA Library reference 18.0 1951.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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