WWI Evacuees to Wiltshire: The Untold Story

on Friday, 10 January 2014. Posted in Military

Hello, my name is Jade and I am currently on Placement at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre from the University of the West of England, as part of my History degree. I am working on a project that is looking at the possibility of children during World War One being evacuated to rural areas, such as Wiltshire. We do not know very much about this as it wasn’t government organised, and there are little records remaining. It seems that there was quite a large influx of Children from London following air raids in 1917, when Zeppelin airships were superseded by the deadly Gotha Biplanes. In the first raid in May 1917 there were 95 casualties and on the 12th of June 1917 100 bombs fell killing 162 civilians, including 16 Children at a school in Poplar which received a direct hit. This seems to have caused an unofficial evacuation of children and families.

We are investigating whether these children went to stay with family or strangers, or whether they travelled alone or with the rest of the family. I am using the old school admission registers and cross referencing them with the school log books. My research will also consider local and national newspapers, minutes of local authorities and other official records. As far as we know, this is unique research. However, if you have any further information or know of anyone who was temporarily evacuated, please do not hesitate to contact the History Centre. We are very excited about this research and already patterns seem to be emerging, and I will update you as the project progresses.

Jade Wellesley
Work Placement Volunteer

Comments (3)

  • Rita I'Ons

    Rita I'Ons

    21 January 2014 at 17:20 |
    I was interested in the surname Estcourt as there is a town in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa called Estcourt. I wonder which of the family it is named after? No need to reply!


  • Emma


    04 March 2017 at 02:01 |
    My Grandfather was evacuated from London to a cottage in Stroud during WWI but I have no idea whether he stayed with strangers or family or how he got there. I will ask my Mother about this over the weekend. I was telling my husband about this, he is a bit of a history buff and insisted that to the best of his knowledge children were not evacuated during WW! so I did a quick google search which is what brought me to this page. I have no doubt at all that he was evacuated as many years later (around 1979 -80) we went to visit the house which was in the row of cottages called A Bunch of Nuts.


    • Naomi Sackett

      Naomi Sackett

      08 March 2017 at 11:34 |
      Hi Emma
      Thanks for your comment. Jade updated us on her research in a later blog ( http://wshc.eu/blog/item/wwi.html) and it seems that there was an organised mass evacuation in WW1, offering children some respite from the effects of war, arranged by a charity now known as the Children's Country Holiday Fund. Apparently there were over 100,000 evacuations out of London between 1914-1918.
      Great name for a row of cottages!
      Best wishes
      Naomi, Community History Advisor


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