Government Evacuation Scheme, 1939 – 1945 – Western Stirlingshire

When Neville Chamberlain declared war with Germany on 3rd September 1939, Britain had been preparing for the largest migration of people the county had ever seen. In Scotland it was estimated that 175,000 people were evacuated in the first month. This included 62,000 unaccompanied children and 99,000 children and their mothers (Titmuss, R.M, Problems of Social Policy, p. 592)

The main threat to the country was German bombers. Unsurprisingly the government had identified that Germany would target the military and industrial centres of the county. This meant that rural areas became crucial in housing millions of evacuees throughout Britain.

Within the Stirling County Council collection is a unique file on the government evacuation scheme in Western Stirlingshire (SCC/CC/23). It specifically covers the parishes found in Western District No. 2: Balfron, Fintry, Killearn, Kippen, Gargunnock and Strathblane.

A crucial first step in the preparation for evacuees was to identify what households could accommodate evacuees. A survey was conducted and a billeting accommodation register was compiled in February 1939 for all parishes in Western District No. 2.

The register lists the address of the property, the number of habitable rooms, the number of people ordinarily present, the number of spare rooms and the number of rooms available for children, teachers, helpers and others.

Two weeks after war was declared, a letter is present within the register outlining the number of available billets after the first billeting took place. Fintry could not accommodate any more evacuees whilst 260 billets remained for children in the district.

Rest Centres were also crucial. They were allocated buildings which provided relief for those rendered homeless by enemy action. A booklet exists providing the operational details for all of the rest centres in Western District No.1 (Buchanan and Drymen) & 2 in 1942. Stock books also exist for the rest centres detailing how many blankets, sheets and other key essentials were present within each building.

The government evacuation records for Stirling County Council are invaluable. They provide a unique insight into the role each parish played in managing evacuees and contain a wealth of local information. If you live in the any of areas present within the old Western District No. 2 (Balfron, Fintry, Killearn, Kippen, Buchlyvie, Gargunnock and Strathblane) you should be able to find out if your house was able to take in evacuees.