In preparation for my interview this ThursdayPosted: November 2, 2013
I am planning to interview Mr. W. this Thursday. As very little has come to light on his time in 249 squadron, I will direct the main part of my interview on his time in Bloemfontein, South Africa, as a young 12 year old evacuee. Mr. W. was also very keen to talk about this particular event and he seemed to have very vivid memories.
At the time, British Pathe made several films of evacuees arriving in the British dominions. These films portraying the children looking happy and excited in anticipation of a great adventure ahead of them, in the warmer climates and safely away from the dangers of the war back home. This was a skillful peace of propaganda to make parents feel that sending their beloved children half way around the world had been the best decision for their safety and wellbeing. Though, in reality transporting these children out to sea in the midst of a war proved more dangerous than keeping them at home.
Mr. W. would have spent most of the war away from his family. By the time he returned at the end of the war in 1945, he would have been an 18 year old man, hardly recognisable from the 12 year old boy that had left in 1939. I would like to discuss with Mr. W. how he felt about leaving his family, whether his time in Bloemfontein was a happy one, how he felt about the family he left behind when returning to England, and whether this long period of separation had a lasting effect on his relationship with his parents. This is was a very emotive event in his life; therefore, it is important that the interview is approached sensitively and unhurried. I would also like to ask Mr. W. if the portrayal of the British Pathe films really did reflect the mood of the children at the time.
For my background research I have referred to the following sources: The National Archives ‘The Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB)’ and ‘The Absurd and the Brave: C.O.R.B. – the True Account of the British Government’s World War II Evacuation of Children Overseas’ by Michael Fethney. For guidance on my interview preparation, I have referred to Voice of the Past: Oral History by Paul Thompson.
I am looking forward to interviewing Mr. W. on Thursday, and I do hope that he will equally enjoy the experience. I would also like to make him aware that by giving his time and his oral interpretation of this particular poignant experience in his life; a major historical event of the Second World War, he has made a valuable contribution to oral history.