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Before the War

As early as 1924, an Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Committee began to make plans for the evacuation of certain sections of the public in the event of a future war. By the beginning of 1938, not only were planes which could carry bombs much larger, with a greater range, but the political situation in Europe made war more likely. A Committee on Evacuation was formed which decided that it would be most important to evacuate children.

Local government was involved in the planning process, as shown by the following sources.  Click on the thumbnails below to view them.

Source 1:

Northumberland County Education Committee Memorandum concerning Air Raid Precautions.

ces_19443a_a_thumbnail_221 CES 194/4/3a (A)


Source 2:
Borough and County of Berwick upon Tweed Letter from Mayor to householders appealing for billets.

bro_794625_thumbnail_221BRO 794/62/5

Question 1:

a. Read Source 1. Why do you think that the memorandum was ‘not to be discussed in public’? What evidence is there that this memorandum was not the first time that the Education Committee had considered the issue of what to do in the event of air raids?

b. What does Source 2 tell us about the methods used to persuade people to volunteer to look after evacuees, in the event of war?

Not everybody was happy with the arrangements being made.

Source 3:
Extract from Northumberland County Council Minutes (May 1939)

cccmcc50_pg_60_thumbnail_221CC/CM/CC/50 p.60

Source 4:
Article:  ‘Still Hope that Blyth will be included in the evacuation area.’

nro_563001_150639_thumbnail_221NRO 5630-01 (15-06-39)


Question 2

Both the county council and the local newspaper believed that the children of Blyth should be evacuated to a safer area. Explain why, using the evidence in Sources 3 and 4.

Source 6:
Photograph of a class of girls at Rutherford College, Newcastle Upon Tyne, getting ready for evacuation at the end of August 1939.

nro_794405_thumbnail_221NRO 7944/05

Question 3
Why was this photograph (Source 6) printed in a local newspaper on 28 August 1939?