How did the evacuees adapt to life in war-torn London?


Boat trip London

Life for the evacuees was tough at first, especially as The Blitz made living conditions almost intolerable. But soon the evacuees began to gain confidence in their new environment and settled into a routine making the best out of a difficult situation. Children began to attend local schools and many able-bodied men and women helped the war effort by working in factories or other essential services. The Gibraltarian love for sport was soon noticed by their hosts. The London Evening Standard, for example, reported that among the evacuees from Gibraltar there were many footballers playing in junior and senior league and cup competitions. There was a senior and junior league in which teams from the different evacuation centres competed against each other; Lancaster Gate, Whitelands, Courtlands and Ivanhoe to name but a few.

Evacuee maintenance contributions

The games were arranged by the London Gibraltar Football Association and finaos of the cup competition were played at the Queen´s Park Ranger´s ground in Shepherd´s Bush The games were arranged by the London Gibraltar Football Association, and the finals of the cup competition were played at the Queen’s Park Ranger’s ground in Shepherd’s Bush. The 1942 junior final, for example, was won by the Highlands team who beat Courtlands four nil. The senior final was won by the Ivanhoe team who beat the team from Dr. Barnardo’s by four goals to two.

Life in London.

Football was by far the most popular sport played by men and boys in London. But the men who remained on the Rock also played regular football against teams from the army and other military units stationed on Gibraltar. With the local league suspended for the duration of the war a new team was formed called Gibraltar United and with the return of the Gibraltar Football League after the war this team became one of the top teams of the league winning five consecutive First Division titles in 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951. The other top teams that would play in the Gibraltar league after WWII were the Prince of Wales, Britannia and Europa. As well as sport, Scout and Girl Guide troops were started in several centres, whilst for the adults, film shows and excursions were arranged by the committees of the various centres to many of the undamaged London sites. There was also a lot of local entertainment from local bands and dances were held almost every weekend. London offered Gibraltarians many opportunities in terms of further education and job prospects which had previously been unavailable back home. Living in England meant that many people, especially children, began to learn and speak English much more regularly and fluently. Some Gibraltarians were beginning to enjoy life in England so much that some never wanted to come back!

The Highlands team, winners of the Junior Cup in May, 1942.