With war imminent, Britain decided to evacuate thousands of children from major cities to the safety of the countryside. Amidst the chaos 70 years ago, simple name tags were their only link with home. All these years later, survivors gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral in London to relive that emotional time.
“There was a real fear that one was never going to go home, because time is elastic and the younger you are the slower it passes,” said one evacuee, the former television newsreader Michael Aspel. “I remember asking my Uncle Cyril, you know, how long have I been here? thinking he would say three or four years, but he said oh, about six weeks now.” The mass evacuation was code-named Operation Pied Piper, and in just four days three and a half million mostly children were shipped off to a safer life. Some of the children had never been out of the city, some thought they would never see their homes and parents again.