Teachers' Notes: Introduction
On September 1 1939, German forces invaded Poland. The same day, ‘Operation Pied Piper’ began: the mass evacuation of schoolchildren with their teachers, followed shortly by mothers with children under five, and some adults with disabilities. About 1.5 million people were moved over three days from places at risk into small towns and villages in the countryside.
Large parts of rural Northumberland were categorised as Reception areas, and plans were made to receive evacuees from industrial Tyneside. This learning resource examines what really happened during the evacuation into Northumberland, using source material from Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn, Ashington, and Berwick Record Office.
• official papers from local councils
• school log books
• articles from local newspapers
• the words of the evacuees themselves, from oral history interviews
• photographs of evacuees
The topic is divided into sections and uses original documents to address key themes:
• Before the War: what plans were made and when?
• Operation Pied Piper: what actually happened on the day of evacuation? Did the plans go smoothly?
• The Drift Home: why did so many adult and child evacuees go home quite soon after evacuation? Why were many re-evacuated later?
• Education and Recreation: what problems did wartime conditions cause for schools and the education of evacuated children? What effect did evacuation have on the lives of the children?
Each section includes questions based on the source material. There is also a glossary to help with the terminology.
This resource was developed with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Access to Northumberland’s History Project (2007 – 9). It was designed for KS3 and GCSE History schemes of work but could be adapted for KS2.
Click here for a glossary of terms found in the source material.