Refugees in America

Two Scottish Brothers

Two Scottish Brothers

Postcard of Ocean Liner "Andania"

Postcard: "I am in Cannida now,"

Child Refugees Bombed 16 Times

Children bombed

Refugees Find U.S.

Refugees Find U.S.

Evacuee Children in New York City

Evacuee Children in New York City

British Children's Joy at LIghts of New York

British Children's Joy at Lights of New York

Two British Evacuees in America

Ian and Donald in America

Exeter, Devon, Sunday, June 29th, 1941  My Dear Ian and Donald,

We have been thinking of you such a lot these last few days because we know  . . .  that yesterday you would be off to Maine.  We are so proud both of you had done so well at school. . . .  We enjoy your letters so much, so please write a bit more, wont you--a few pages each, even if you have to do it in pencil. . . 

 In the garden we have potatoes, and cabbages and carrots and lettuces coming up, also green corn and beans.  Do you remember eating nice buttery corn cobs?  Of course we  don't have enough butter now to plaster it on things like corn cobs. . . .   [N]owadays in this county much less fruit is being grown, and most of it is being set aside for making jam.   Do you know we have ration books now for clothes?  I bought a pair of trousers this week and the tailor had to take his scissors and cut out 8 margarine coupons (we are using margarine coupons for clothes at present.) . . .  I'm afraid we won't have a holiday this year, but we can all look forward to a jolly good one together when this beastly war is over and you come back to us.  

Have you been looking at your maps to see about this new German war with Russia?  Hitler wants oil and corn in the part called the UKRAINE, and he also wants to get the Russians put under before his big attack on Britain.  The Russians have alot of men and machines, but most people think they are bit muddle-headed and may not be able to resist the German tanks and planes for long.  Meanwhile the RAF is taking the chance to strike heavy blows in Germany. . . .  The Tomahawks are the new  American fighter planes, and our men say they are good and fast.   The Americans have built an enormous bomber that can fly 7000 miles and carry a big load.  Wait till Hitler and Fatty Goering hear that one come roaring over their heads! 

We have electricity but no gas.  Mummie would prefer to cook with gas, as she is accustomed to it. . . .  All our love to you, Ian and Don, good lads,  Daddy

Exeter, Devon, August 19, 1941.  My Dear Ian and Donald,

First of all, Ian and Donnie, there's a bit of sad news.  I told you how very ill Granny was in  my last letter, and . . . in spite of everything the doctors and nurses could do, Granny died that morning. . . .  She was always so good to you both, and you were very fond of her, weren't you?  Do you remember the fine time we all had a St. Bee's, playing at Indians in the woods, and playing cricket away down in that clearing at the bottom of the garden?  So you must always remember Grannie, and how kind she was to you.  It has been a sad time for Mummie. . . .  We often wish you could see your small sister now . . . She now has two teeth.  I am enclosing two photos. . . .   

What a splendid holiday you are having! . . . Do you think you can teach me to play baseball some day, so that I can join your "All Stars" team?

Wasn't that a wonderful trip that Mr. Churchill made to meet President Roosevelt?  One of our papers showed a drawing of them sitting together on board ship, making a great big sharp fishhook to catch Hitler with. 

Mummie will write soon.  Be good, and . . . write long letters very often for we do love getting them.  All love to you, Daddy, Mummy, and Sheila

Exhibit Note: These two boys, Ian and Donald Cruickshank arrived in North America ten days after the sinking of the SS City of Benares, a passenger liner in a following convoy, that was torpedoed by U-48 600 miles west of Ireland in the North Atlantic, with heavy loss of life,  Of the 90 evacuee children on board, only thirteen survived, including two girls who were found clinging to overturned life boat days later later, on September 26th.  The news of this disaster prompterd an immediated halt to the evauation of children as refugees to America. The U-boat Captain, Heinrich Bleichrodt, was tried for war crimes related to the sinking of the City of Benares, after the war. He denied any prior knowledge of the presence of children, and refused to apologise for the sinking, stating his actions were within the bounds of military policy.
These two boys returned to England on a convoy in 1944, where they were reunited with their parents and young sister, Sheila, who was born after they left England in 1940.  For more information on the Armerican sojourn of these two boys, see the Collection accompanying this Exhbit entitled "Refugees: My Brother's Keeper." 
The younger brother, Donald James, returned to North America with a young family, bringing them to the coast of Maine for many summers, including the Contributor to this exhibit, who still lives there.
For further refence to the evacuation of children from Britain during World War Two, see:
  • Edwards, Paul M. (2010). Between the Lines of World War II: Twenty-One Remarkable People and Events. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-4667-6. 
  • Jackson, Carlton (2008). Who Will Take Our Children?: The British Evacuation Program of World War II. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-3785-5
For more information on the City of Benares tragedy, see:
  • "Official Report on the Sinking of the S.S. City of Benares", October 1940, Imperial War Museum, London.
  • Children of the Benares, A War Crime and its Victims, Ralph Barker (Methuen London, 1987 ISBN 0-413-42310-7)


Refugees in America