Exploring the Psychological Consequences of Overseas Evacuation on British children during World War II

In 1939, the threat of German air raids hung above London. Chaotic fears of losing children to bombs, Nazi ideology, or starvation, led thousands of parents to send their children overseas through private evacuations or the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) scheme. This led to an unprecedented transnational migration of unaccompanied children.

Evacuee children endured enormous difficulty as they were separated from their families, braved a treacherous journey across German U-boat infested seas, accustomed themselves to a foreign culture, and finally reintegrated into British society after the war.

By analyzing evacuee letters, memoirs, government records, newspapers, and previous psychological research, this paper will examine how the overseas evacuation contributed to short term and long term psychological trauma in English children.

This study will lend itself to a greater understanding of the plight of children in conflict. This topic remains relevant today, especially in light of recent refugee and immigration crises. Children fleeing from conflict in countries like Yemen, Syria, Sudan, and Palestine face similar struggles like dealing with family separation, harrowing journeys, negative stereotypes, and relocation to an unfamiliar setting. Minimizing trauma will save and improve the quality of life of those forming the next generation.