Book Review: Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War by Gillian Mawson

Author: Gillian Mawson
Publisher: The History Press Ltd
Reviewed by: the author
Price (RRP): £14.99

Publication Date: 1 Nov 2012

Since 2008, Gillian Mawson, writer and historian, has been interviewing those evacuees who fled the Channel Islands to mainland Britain in June 1940, just a few days prior to the German Occupation of the Channel Islands.

In June 1940, 17,000 people fled Guernsey to England, including 5,000 school children with their teachers and 500 mothers who travelled with them as ‘helpers’. The Channel Islands were occupied on 30 June – the only part of British territory that was occupied by Nazi forces during the Second World War.

Most of the evacuees were transported to smoky industrial towns in Northern England – an environment so very different to their rural island. For five years they made new lives in towns where the local accent was often confusing, but for most, the generosity shown to them was astounding. They received assistance from Canada and the USA – one Guernsey school was ‘sponsored’ by wealthy Americans, one being Eleanor Roosevelt. Thousands of Guernsey evacuees joined the British Forces, or worked in factories making ammunition and aircraft.

From May 1945, the evacuees began to return home, although many decided to remain in England. Many of those who returned to Guernsey found it difficult to bond with their families after five years apart. Yet wartime bonds were forged between Guernsey and Northern England that were so strong, they still exist today.

Gilliam Mawson

The book trailer

Gillian Mawson will sign her book on Friday 16 November at the Guernsey Press Shop, Smith Street, Guernsey (12 am to 2 pm) and at The People’s History Museum in Manchester on Saturday 24th November (11am and 12.30pm).