Evacuees’ voices at ERO

By Martin Astell, Sound and Video Archivist

The Essex Sound and Video Archive has recently added to SEAX a collection of oral history interviews which focus on childhood experiences during World War II (SA 48).

The collection includes a number of interviewees who were evacuated from their homes to ‘safer’ parts of the country. The evacuation of children can be portrayed as an example of how the nation ‘pulled together’ during World War II to help one another through the crisis. However, the individual stories told by those who experienced evacuation can help to present a more complex narrative.

The recordings in this collection include an account of being treated very poorly by the family which had taken the interviewee into their home (SA 48/1/1) and another of the local children being told not to mix with the evacuees from London and being strictly segregated within school (SA 48/8/1). This interviewee also states that she and her siblings returned to Chingford despite the clear risk of being bombed because her mother, who had accompanied the children in their privately arranged evacuation while her husband remained at home, was in danger of falling into an affair with another man.

This collection has been catalogued with the help of volunteers, and joins our existing Sound and Video Archive sources material on the Second World War. You can download a guide to these sources by clicking the link below.

ESVA Sources on the Second World War

All of the recordings in the source list can be ordered in the Searchroom, and listened to or watched in the Essex Sound and Video Archive.