Throughout the course of the Second World War, around 3 million British people were evacuated. Gillian Mawson has interviewed 600 evacuees, including mothers and teachers who travelled with the children to take them to safety.
During the war, some evacuees wrote poems which described their experiences of leaving home, the evacuation journey and what it was like to be 'chosen' by local families at journey's end. When the war ended, they described meeting their parents once again, whilst some described their sadness at leaving behind the 'foster families' they had come to love.
Brought together for the very first time, these poems are emotional and moving and share an overlooked aspect of wartime evacuation.
The cover of Rhymes and Remembrance: Poetry written by Britain's Second World War Evacuees features on its front cover a photograph showing evacuees arriving at Disley in August 1940.
A share of the profits from the book will be donated to RAF Metheringham Airfield Museum.
Gillian Mawson is a researcher and writer who has a keen interest in Britain during the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Stockport and currently living in Derbyshire, she enjoys interviewing people who have lived through extraordinary times. She has interviewed over 600 evacuees from Britain, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, including evacuated mothers and teachers. She works with school, museums and history groups to share wartime stories, documents and images through exhibitions and events. She organises evacuee reunions in England and in Guernsey, provides research for radio and television documentaries and runs a community group in Manchester for Second World War evacuees. She is the author of three books on wartime evacuation and has written articles on the Second World War Home Front for numerous magazines and newspapers. Gillian shares information on the Second World War on her personal Facebook page.
Her blog describing the 1940 Guernsey evacuation to England can be found online at: https://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/evacuation/
An article on recent books about the Channel Islands during the Second World War was printed in the Guernsey Press in 14th August 2019. These extracts are printed with permission.
While speaking to so many people over the years, they often get out letters and photographs. Quite a few have said, "Oh, I've written a poem about it" and I always ask if I could have a copy. The number rose to more than 30 and I thought it would make a great book.
I tried to get funding but was told it was too niche. A friend at Wolfian Press loved it and thought it was really important that the poems were shared, and said that he'd do the formatting and publish the book. I couldn't believe it - I had to buy a copy myself to see if it was true.
Some of the profits from the book are going to RAF Metheringham Airfield Museum near Lincoln.
The museum is all run by volunteers and it's regularly visited by groups of schoolchildren who share the British evacuation story, including that of the Channel Islands, using copies of my documents and photographs.
- Gillian Mawson