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Evacuation from Newcastle and Gateshead in 1939

Introduction

Local Authority No. Evacuated
Newcastle 28,300 (71%)
Gateshead 10,598 (71%)
Middlesborough 5,171 (31%)
South Shields 3,826 (31%)
Sunderland 8,289 (33%)
Tynemouth 1,481 (32%)
West Hartlepool 2,881 (36%)

The LNER documents on these pages are dated 16th August 1939 and describe the detailed plans for the evacuation of schoolchildren from Newcastle and Gateshead in the event of war. As the month progressed it became increasingly clear that the evacuation would in fact take place, so full scale rehearsals were held in Gateshead on Monday August 28th and in Newcastle on the 29th. Thousands upon thousands of children assembled in school yards carrying gas masks and a few personal possessions and each had an identification label either tied or fastened securely to their clothing. Then, all too soon, it was the real thing: on September 1st and 2nd children from Newcastle and Gateshead, along with children from other urban areas in the North-East and around the country, were moved away from the cities to safer areas. Altogether about one fifth of the country's schoolchildren were moved - one of the greatest logistical exercises of all time.

The numbers were less than expected because many parents could not bear to be parted from their children but, nevertheless, about 28,300 children from Newcastle, 71% of those eligible, , and 10,598 children from Gateshead, also 71% of those eligible, were moved. The proportions were much less in other LEA areas in the region, even those in coastal areas. The actual figures for evacuation from the authority areas comprising Evactuation Area 7 (The North-East Group) are shown in the table above.

Index to Documents

Made available to GENUKI by Gateshead Council.