Guernsey evacuees speak out in book by Peak author

Guernsey evacuees arriving in Disley. Photo contributed.

Guernsey evacuees arriving in Disley. Photo contributed.

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A FASCINATING account of Guernsey’s evacuation in the 1940s has been penned by a High Peak author.

Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War tells the story of the 17,000 adult and child evacuees who fled Guernsey just before the Nazis occupied it on June 30, 1940.

Individuals share their stories and experiences of life as an evacuee in the new book by Whaley Bridge writer Gillian Mawson, which also features new research and is illustrated with a wealth of rare, unpublished images and documents.

Most of the evacuees - which included 5,000 school children with their teachers and 500 mothers as ‘helpers’ - arrived in Northern England, where they remained for five years.

Many were transported to smoky industrial towns - an environment so very different to their rural island and as a result, bonds were forged between Guernsey and Northern England that were so strong, they still exist today.

Gillian, who has been researching the evacuation of Guernsey for several years, said: “Stockport contained the largest number of Guernsey evacuees - 2,500 - but hundreds of children came to Great Hucklow, Disley and ‘Whitehall’, near Buxton, where their Guernsey teachers continued to teach and care for them until their island was liberated in May 1945.”

The evacuees received assistance from Canada and the USA and one Guernsey school was ‘sponsored’ by wealthy Americans such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hollywood stars.

In addition to her research, Gillian has organised exhibitions, made films and documentaries, arranged reunions and won the Guernsey Ambassador of the Year Award for her work in this field.

l Published by The History Press, Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War by Gillian Mawson is available now in paperback format, priced £14.99.

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