Overseas British Evacuation of Children: Destinations--Canada


Figure 1.--These British children reached Montreal On July 7, 1940, as part of the CORB program.

Unfortunately we do not have ny details about the children in this photograph. They seen to come from the same school, from the look of it a private prep schools. (Notice the identical ties.) Perhaps two schools were involved. I have never heard of a school being evacuated overseas. It is possible that they were outfitted before being sent overseas, but I have never read that CORB did that. A British reader writes, "The phtograph of the refugee children in Canada is interesting. These were certainly children from affluent families." Source: National Archives of Canada PA-142400.

Canada as a Domminion which joined Britain in the War was open to evacuees. And it had the advantage of a relaively short Atlantic run. Thus most of the CORB children were evavcuated to Canada. This reflected the heavy involvement of the British Merchant Marine to the trans-Atlantic routes trade--Britain's lifeline. Thus there were many ships on which CORB could place the children. Nearly two-thirds of the CORB groups sailed for Canadia morts. The Canadian Govenment played an importnt role. Evacuees were met at the Canadian ports by Department of Immigration officials. They arranged and supervised the transport of the children to the various provincial clearing centers. Here officials of Children's Aid or other organizations placed the children with families who had previously volunteered to take in the refugee children. And there were follow up contacts if the chidren experienced problems adjusted. [Wallace] Many of the children landed in Canada were then transported overland to groups in America which had volunteered to care for the children.

Dominions

Canada as a Domminion loyally joined Britain in the War. It was essentially an independent country by 1939 but decided to back Britain. It was open to to evacuees. Each of the Dominions (incliing Australia, New Zealand, and South rica) had relatively small populations. The other Dominions also decalred war on Germany. Only Canada had an industrial base. Combined, however, they would be an important factor in the War. While the Dominions proudly gave great service during the war, this automatic commitment became a source of irritation to Dominion nationalists. The Dominions by the Statute of Westminster won the right to be consulted in 1931. In World War II they thus made their own declarations of war, around the same time as Britain in September 1939. They were not required to do so, but loyally followed Britain into the War. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand strongly backed Britain.

North Atlantic

Merchant marine transport to Canada had the advantage of a relaively short North Atlantic run. British Merchant Marine would be primrily devoted to the trans-Atlantic routes trade--Britain's lifeline. Canada's industry and agriculture was a major support for the British War effort and shipments from America also came through Canada until the American Nutrality Laws were recinded. Thus the all important Battle of the Atalntic would be fought over the North Atlantic convoy routes. And the CORB children would be exposed to U-boat attacks. Most of the major naval engagements of World War II were fought in the Pacific between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the U.S. Navy, including the largest naval battles in history. Even so, the most important naval battle of the War, possibly the most important battle overall, was the campaign in the North Atlantic to defeat the German U-boats and their effort to cut off Britain's life line to America. While there were relatively few surface engagements because of the small German surface fleet, the campaign between U-boats and convoy escorts largely determined the outcome of the War. The Americas and British set on a Germany first doctrine even before America entered the War. The Allied victory in the North Atlantic made D-Day and the liberation of Western Europe possible as well as the strategic bombing campaign that destroyed Germany's ability to make War. While the naval campaign in the North Atlantic did not by itself defeat Germany, it did mean that the Allies could prevent the Soviet Union from accomplishing what Stalin set out to do in 1939 with the NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (1939), gain control not only of Eastern Europe, but Western Europeas well. hile Canada did not have any Navu to speak of the piyset of the War, it wolf bi=uild a substantial fleet and play a key role in the Battle of ghe Atlntic.

COEB Groups

Because the transit was so short and so much of the British Merchant Marine was devoted to the North Atlantic route, most of the CORB children were evavcuated to Canada. There were many ships on which CORB could place the children. Nearly two-thirds of the CORB groups sailed for Canadia ports. Many entered through Pier 21. SS Anselm (Booth Steamship Co), left Liverpool on Sunday July 21, 1940, for Halifax with the first group of 82 CORB children on board. SS Duchess of York (Canadian Pacific), left Greenock on July 27, 1940, bound for Halifax. SS Ruahine (New Zealand Shipping Company), left Liverpool in early August 1940, bound for Halifax - Panama - New Zealand, 170 children (mainly privately sponsored). SS Duchess of Atholl (Canadian Pacific), left Liverpool in August 1940, bound for Montreal (some children privately sponsored). RMS Hilary (Booth Steamship Co), left Liverpool on August 10, 1940 for Canada, with 164 CORB children. SS Antonia (Cunard Line), delayed in Liverpool by air raids, sailed to Greenock, embarked children, sailed on 11 August 1940 bound for Halifax, arriving on August 19, with about 300 children, including Jewish families who had escaped from the Nazis in Continental Europe. SS Duchess of York (Canadian Pacific), second trip, left Liverpool on August 10, 1940, bound for Canada. SS Oronsay (Orient Steam Navigation Company), left Liverpool on August 14, 1940 bound for Halifax with 351 CORB children. SS Bayano (Elders & Fyffes Line), left Gourock on August 15, 1940, bound for Halifax. She continued to Quebec and Montreal with 99 CORB children. SS Volendam (Holland America line), left Liverpool on August 28, 1940, bound for Halifax New York, with 320 CORB children. It was torpedoed on August 30, but all the children were saved. SS Nerissa (Red Cross Line), left Liverpool on September 7, 1940, bound for Halifax, with 34 CORB children (final destination British Columbia). SS City of Benares (Ellerman Lines), left Liverpool on September 13, 1940 in convoy OB-213 consisting of 21 ships, bound for Quebec and Montreal with 90 CORB children on board. She was torpedoed and sunk on September 18 with 77 of the 90 children perisjing. SS Nova Scotia (Furness, Withy & Co Ltd), left Liverpool on September 21, 1940 with the last group of 29 CORB children headed for Canada.

Canadian Government

This was not the first time that British children were sent to Canada. Much larger numbers of Home children were sent in the late-19th century. The Canadian Govenment played an importnt role. Evacuees were met at the Canadian ports by Department of Immigration officials. They arranged and supervised the transport of the children to the various provincial clearing centers. Here officials of Children's Aid or other organizations placed the children with families who had previously volunteered to take in the refugee children. And there were follow up contacts if the chidren experienced problems adjusted. [Wallace] CORB officials were very grateful for the cooperation and offers of assistance that they got from Canada.

United States Placements

Many of the children landed in Canada were then transported overland to groups in America which had volunteered to care for the children.

Sources

Wallace, Dr. R.C. Chairman of the National Committee for Children from Overseas, radio address, November 3, 1940.






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Created: 4:26 AM 9/24/2007
Last updated: 3:24 AM 12/22/2017