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Operation Pied Piper

HOW WELL WAS THE EVACUATION ORGANISED?

September 1st 1939 saw the evacuation of large numbers of schoolchildren, accompanied by their teachers, from industrial Tyneside, to Reception areas in Northumberland. They were followed the day after by groups of other vulnerable people.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the sources.

Source 1
T.359 Kenneth's Story

Kenneth, who was born in High Heaton in 1930 and attended Cragside School, travelled by train from Heaton Station to Morpeth on September 1st.

nro_786603_thumbnail_221NRO 7866/03







Click here to listen to Kenneth's Story
Click here to see a transcript of this clip.

Source 2:
Report of Northumberland County Council Education Committee about the organisation of the evacuation in September 1939.

cccmcc50_pg_26667_221CC/CM/CC/50 pp.266-267


Source 3:
Document issued by Northumberland County Council to show where the different schools in Newcastle upon Tyne were being sent on 1 September.

bro_794923_a_221BRO 794/92/3 (A)


Question 1:

a. How well-run was the evacuation? Were any of the problems avoidable?
b. What do sources 1 and 2 tell us about how the children were welcomed in the Reception area?
c. How far does Source 2 support Kenneth’s memories in Source 1 of the day of his evacuation?

Source 4:

The following day (2 September 1939) another group was evacuated.
•    Look at the document issued by Berwick upon Tweed Borough Council to find out who they were.

bro_794923_c_221BRO 794/92/3 [C]


Source 5:

cccmcc50_pg_26667_2_221CC/CM/CC/50 p. 267


The Northumberland County Council Education Committee report about the evacuation found that the people evacuated on the second day were less likely to stay in the Reception areas and more likely to return home very soon.

•    Read this article from the Blyth News and Ashington Post to find out what the local newspaper said about the evacuees in Morpeth.

Source 6

nro_563001_250939_221NRO 5630-01 (25-09-1939)

Question 2:

a. What reasons are given in Sources 5 and 6 to explain why so many of those evacuated on 2 September soon returned home?
b. How reliable are Sources 1, 5 and 6 as evidence of the way the evacuation was organised? 

Question 3:

Taking all the evidence into account, answer the following:

•    ‘The organisation of the evacuation of schoolchildren and other vulnerable groups from Tyneside to Northumberland at the start of the war was a success.’
Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation? Explain your answer.