Overseas British Evacuation of Children (1940)

Figure 1.--Here two British refugee children arrive in New york City. The photograph is dated September 29, 1940. At the time the NAZI Blitz was pulverzing London. The boy is 6 years old. Note the kazoo held by the boy on the right. The child on the left is identified as the son of a chimney sweep. After the fall of France (June 1940), the British Government, fearing invasion, expanded the evacuation of children overseas, mostly to America and Canada.

The destinsations British children were evacuated to varied. The major destinations were the United States and the Dominions (Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the Caribbean). At the time America was neutral, but the Dominios had joined Britain in the War. I believe that the largest numbers of chidren were sent to America and Canada, but do not yet have data on the various countris involved. The two most importabt were America and Canada, because of the relatively short distances of a trans-Atlantic pasage. America had strict immigration laws. I'm not sure how that was dealt with. Canada as a Domminion which joined Britain in the War was more open.


At the beginning of the War America was neutral. Most Americans wanted no part of the War, but from the beginning there was enorous sympathy for Britain. America was a large country which easily absorb the evacuees ahd klike Canada was relarivrely close to Britain. America had , however, strict immigration laws. I'm not sure how that was delt with. The evacuations to America seem to be more private undertakings than the Goverment sponsored CORB evacuations. I hven't been able to find much inormation about English refugees in America, but I know quite a number were evacuated here. This is a subject on wgich I hope to find more information.


Australia provided a safe haven in 1940, but the distnces involved meant that very few children were evacuated there. There were some evacuatins to Australia which in 1940 looked very safe compared to Britain. Parents began to worry, however, after the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor (December 1941) and the fall of ingaporte (February 1942).


Canada as a Domminion which joined Britain in the War was more open to evacuees. And it had the advantage of a relaively short Atlantic run. Thus many of the CORB children were evavcuated to Canada. The Canadian Govenment played an importnt role. Evacuees wee met at the Canadian port by Department of Immigration officials. They arranged ad supervised the the trnsport transport of the childrn to the various provinal clering centers. Here officials of Children's Aid or other organizations placed the children with families who had previously volunteered to take in the refugee children. And there wre follow up contacts if the chidren experienced problems adjusted. [Wallace]


New Zealand

New Zelnd oresented the same problem as Australia--the distance involved. But we note some CORB dispatched to NEw Zealand.

South Africa


Wallace, Dr. R.C. Chairman of the National Committee for Children from Overseas, radio address, November 3, 1940.


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Created: 11:15 PM 9/23/2007
Last updated: 11:16 PM 9/23/2007