I was asked why this story? I think it was my mother’s reminiscing when she came to stay near us in the north of England shortly before her death 9 years ago. We drove to Morecambe to try and spot the hotel which had housed her Civil Service Department from 1939-1945. She was just turning 18 when war broke out, in her first job and she’d never lived away from her parents before. It was a case of “what if?” Suppose there had been Jewish blood in the family, would her parents have done their utmost to send her to the colonies along with many others seeking refuge there. That was the personal connection.
My research then took off, into child evacuation in war, the kindertransports and the use of the colonies as a safe haven in Victorian times (not just for convict transportation!). Can a child ever be kept safe from the world and growing up? How did the people left at home feel towards those who took refuge abroad for the duration of the war? And what of the psychological effect on those who fought and survived, while many of their colleagues, friends or family perished? I don’t give any answers but this story explores some of the questions.