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WWII: evacuees & refugees
Using historical fiction

Ireland is rich in historical fiction for children and two historical novels set in the Second World War form the basis of a two-part study unit which explores the question:

How far does reading and writing historical fiction help us to understand the past?

The novels
Safe Harbour
by Marita Conlon-McKenna (O'Brien Press, 0-86278-
explores the experience of a brother and sister evacuated from the London Blitz to their grandfather’s house in Co. Wicklow in neutral Eire.

Marilyn Taylor's Faraway Home(O'Brien Press, 0-86278-643-6) is the story of two Kindertransport children, again a brother and sister, fleeing Nazi Vienna and seeking refuge in Northern Ireland, the brother on a refugee farm in Co. Down.

The study unit
The study unit consists of two workbooks which are being used in Years 5-9.

By comparing extracts from the novels with historical sources, each workbook encourages an exploration of

1. the diverse experiences of children as evacuees and refugees and their changing relationships in their new settings and
2. an examination of the usefulness of reading and writing historical fiction to an understanding of the past.

The approach is based upon the work of the EACH project which encourages the use of historical fiction in the teaching of English and History.

The workbooks
Workbook 1 on evacuees, Safe Harbour about evacuees, consists of seven or eight lessons:

1. Aunt Jessie's big mistake? 2. What was it like in London during the Blitz?
3. Why did Aunt Jessie want Sophie and Hugh evacuated?
4. Leaving London: Sophie and Hugh evacuees at the railway station
5. Arriving in Ireland 6/7. Sophie's changing relationship with her
grandfather (one or two lessons) 7/8. Fact or fiction.

Workbook 2 on refugees, Faraway Home, consists of eight lessons:

1. Karl's bad day 2. What happened during the 'Night of the Broken Glass'?
3. Karl leaves his parents at Vienna Station 4. Arriving - in England, Belfast
and Millisle
5. Karl is mistaken for a spy 6. Karl's big problem 7. Karl's new life 8. Fact
or fiction?

Please click on the links below for pdf versions of the following:

Workbook 1for Safe Harbour: Evacuees - from London to Northern Ireland
Workbook 2 for Faraway Home: Refugees - from Vienna to Éire
Lesson plans for both workbooks
Drama strategyfor Lesson 2, Safe Harbour workbook
Ireland & Second World War - Images
PowerPoint: 1. Northern Ireland 2. Millisle Refugee Camp, N. Ireland 3. Éire
On-line service: Downloadable images

Other resources & downloads

Safe Harbour has been used in other ways by teachers, for example in Liverpool, in theLiteracy Hour in Year 6 and to inform Year 5 history lessons on What was it like to be a child in the Second World War?

It has also inspired an imaginative Year 6 Dance scheme in Sefton which appeals across the ability range.

Faraway Home is the basis for aKey Stage 3 RE scheme of workin Northamptonshire, exploring Judaism and an Irish response to the Holocaust.

The Blitz - Belfast during the Second World War IR

Recalling the Blitz in Belfast

BBC Radio 4, 10:45am, Wed, 8 September 2010
As part of a series of programmes exploring how different UK cities experienced the Blitz, former Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon goes back home to Belfast to find out about how people there coped with the air raids and bombing.