Community Project on WW2 Evacuation
Since 2008 I have been uncovering the story of the Evacuation from the Channel Islands – the only part of Britain’s territory that was occupied by the invading German army during WW2.
25,000 people fled their islands just prior to the German Occupation; 5,000 of them were school children accompanied by their teachers and most were sent to the industrial North of England. Many remained here after the war.
Two years ago I began a project with 20 elderly Guernsey evacuees, who now live in the Manchester area, to empower them to tell their story to the local community in their own way. They are deciding how it will be recorded and shared, and will gain from the social contact created through interaction with the public and with each other, as well as new skills. Their average age is 82, and two are in wheelchairs.
We initially received a grant from the charity, UnLtd, to cover the cost of meetings and travel etc but we now have to sustain ourselves through the sale of booklets and a DVD about the Guernsey Evacuation. The group organises public inter-generational events in the Greater Manchester area, where the evacuees can share their stories and show their wartime documents and photographs. The evacuees also plan to put their memories on film, and on CD and to create an accompanying pamphlet.
I recently worked with BBC Television on a programme, which told the story of one young Guernsey evacuee, Paulette Le Mescam, who was ‘sponsored’ by Eleanor Roosevelt during WW2 in Cheshire – a clip can be seen at:
More information on my evacuee film and ongoing evacuee research can be found at my blog and website – you can also contact me via my blog http://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/