Between 1st and 4th September 1939 1.5 million evacuees were sent to safer rural areas.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the first evacuee trains, as well as the outbreak of the Second World War.   Evacuation was a remarkable, poignant and sometimes life-changing experience for many children across the country and Radstock Museum has organised their own tribute to the Evacuees – those that came to the area and those that were evacuated to towns and villages all over the country.

We do not intend to celebrate the evacuation but simply to mark the national event with some interesting events and displays.

Why did Evacuation happen?

Fear of the consequences of German bombing for civilians prompted the government to evacuate children, mothers with infants and the infirm from British towns and cities during the Second World War. Evacuation took place in several waves. The first came on 1 September 1939 – the day Germany invaded Poland and two days before the British declaration of war.

Tuesday Sept 3rd: 2-5pm

‘Stand calm, firm and united’ (King George VI)

Watch our hour-by-hour visual display of the news of the day that war was declared.  See how events unfolded in Britain on an incredible day.

Sign our Peace Book whilst you’re with us.  Leave a message, a thought or a memory of loved ones.

This display will run all week.

Tuesday Sept 3rd: 2-5pm

‘Berlin At War’ – readings kindly authorised by Roger Moorhouse.

Listen to some audio recordings of this stunning book by Roger Moorhouse where he portrays the German experience of the Second World War, not through an examination of grand politics, but from the viewpoint of the capital’s streets and homes. He gives a flavour of life in the capital, raises issues of consent and dissent, morality and authority.

 ‘Berlin At War’ is shortlisted for the Hessell-Tiltman History Prize.

The extracts are read by one of our Museum volunteers. 

Wednesday Sept 4th: 2-5pm

Keep Smiling through

Mr Steve Derby is at the museum to chat about his evacuee experience.

He will tell you his anecdotes and recollections, answer any questions you have and offer a bird’s eye view of the journey and how the new life at the end was for him.

Thursday Sept 5th: 11-12 noon.

Evacuees Anniversary Coffee Morning

To all former evacuees: you are very warmly invited to a coffee morning to meet up and share stories with other evacuees and perhaps find out how different your experiences were, where you came from, when you returned or whether you stayed in Somerset.

To help us plan for numbers, please contact Lisa on 01761 437722 or  £2 charge.

Thursday Sept 5th: 2-5pm

‘The First to Fight’ – extracts kindly provided by author Roger Moorhouse.

Listen to some audio recordings of this book by Roger Moorhouse.  This study is from Roger’s forthcoming book which will be published in hardback today – 5th September 2019. We are very privileged to have access to these extracts.

‘The First to Fight’ explores the Polish campaign of 1939. Listen to how the invasion of Poland – the very reason for Britain’s declaration of war – affected life irreversibly for the people of Poland.

Thursday Sept 5th: 2-5pm

“The vackies are here!!”

Vackies were the nicknames given to evacuees by local children! 

The Radstock & Midsomer Norton area received a large number of evacuees and the Somerset archives are rich with letters, stories and memories.  Pop along and have a read of some letters from children who came to our area.  Sometimes funny, sometimes quirky, sometimes really heart-breaking, these letters reflect the huge range of evacuee experiences.

Friday Sept 6th: 10.30 -12 noon

Memories Over Elevenses

Join our monthly local history group who get together to share artefacts, documents, stories and reminiscences, this month with a WW2 theme.

Bring along a ration card, a letter, photos.

Free of charge but donations welcome.

Friday Sept 6th: 2-5pm

“Keep hold and don’t lose it!”

All visitors on Friday will receive an ID card, a billeting address and luggage tag to evoke the experience of the evacuees’ journey. 

Saturday Sept 7th : 11am – 5pm

Children visiting the museum in costume as an evacuee, carrying a suitcase or with a homemade gas mask box get museum entrance for just £1.

Other WW2-themed activities will be available around the museum. 

Saturday Sept 7th: 2-4pm

Guest reader, local evacuee Audrey Gane, reads from her memoirs.

10-15 minute slots between 2-4pm.

Our autumn special exhibition is on view throughout this week:

Double Hills Glider Tragedy and the Arnhem Landings

The museum also has a special exhibition marking the 75th Anniversary of the Double Hills Glider Tragedy and the Arnhem Landings.   Some extraordinary items include a German Panzer crew’s helmet and a British glider pilot’s escape pouch. The story will be told of how a memorial was built and a memorial service is held every September to honour their sacrifice.