Source Information

Ancestry.com. Berkshire, England, World War II Evacuation Records, 1939-1945 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2023.
Original data: Berkshire World War II Records. Reading, Berkshire, England: Berkshire Record Office.

About Berkshire, England, World War II Evacuation Records, 1939-1945

General collection information

This collection contains records related to the evacuation of people from major cities during the Second World War. The records were produced in Berkshire, England, between 1939 and 1945. The collection includes images of the original documents, which are in various formats with both typed and handwritten information.

Using this collection

Records in this collection may include the following information:

  • Name
  • Rank
  • Unit
  • Military entrance date and place
  • Birth date
  • Registration date
  • Arrival date
  • Departure place
  • Address
  • This collection could be used to verify that your ancestor was among those who were evacuated from a city to the country during the Second World War.

    Collection in context

    The records in this collection were created by government and military officials in Berkshire during the war.

    Evacuation preparations began during summer 1938. The country was divided into different types of area: ‘evacuation’, for the major cities; ‘neutral’, where no action was required; and ‘reception’ where people would be moved to. Berkshire was designated a reception area.

    When Nazi Germany invaded Poland on 1 September, 1939, the government immediately initiated an evacuation process named Operation Pied Piper. Within three days, 1.5 million people were moved from the cities to smaller towns and rural areas that were deemed safer in case of a German bombing raid, as they were less likely to be targeted.

    About 45 percent of the evacuees were school children travelling alone. The plan also called for pregnant women, mothers of infants, the elderly, and disabled people to be evacuated. About 25,000 children were evacuated from London to Reading between September 1939 and October 1941.

    By January 1940, about half of the evacuees had returned home because the German bombing raids hadn't occurred. However, after Germany invaded France in the spring of 1940, a second round of evacuations took place during the summer and fall that year. When German rocket attacks hit cities in the east and southeast in 1944, a third evacuation was undertaken.

    These records detail Berkshire’s work as a reception area. Besides the attendance registers of evacuated schools, there are files about emergency accommodation, maternity homes, nurseries and hostels.

    Bibliography

    International War Museums. "The Evacuated Children of the Second World War." Accessed 4 November, 2022. https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-evacuated-children-of-the-second-world-war.

    Reading Museum. "Reading and the Second World War." Accessed 4 November, 2022. http://collections.readingmuseum.org.uk/index.asp?page=topic&mwsquery=%7Bcollection%7D=%7Btopic%7D&filename=REDMG&hitsStart=8.

    Spartacus Educational. "Evacuation." Accessed 4 November, 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20100417080610/http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWevacuation.htm.

    The Berkshire Record Office. "Home." Accessed 4 November, 2022. https://www.berkshirerecordoffice.org.uk/.

    ---. "World War Two." Accessed 4 November, 2022. https://www.berkshirerecordoffice.org.uk/berkshires-past/world-war-2.

    ---. "World War Two Guide." Accessed 4 November, 2022. https://www.berkshirerecordoffice.org.uk/berkshires-past/world-war-2/world-war-two-guide.

    The History Press. "The evacuation of children during the Second World War." Accessed 4 November, 2022. https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-evacuation-of-children-during-the-second-world-war/.