Campaign for permanent memorial to the child evacuees of the Second World War

Video report by Liverpool Correspondent Andy Bonner.

A campaign has been launched to create a lasting tribute to the young evacuees of the Second World War.

Across the country, the government arranged for millions of children, mothers with infants and the infirm to leave their homes in populated areas for rural retreats amid concerns that German bombing would claim civilian lives.

In Liverpool, the port's strategic importance would lead to the city becoming the most bombed area outside London.

However, despite tens of thousands of youngsters fleeing their homes, there is no permanent memorial to the bravery of a generation whose lives were tainted by the often traumatic experience.

The family of one of those children is spearheading the idea of creating a statue in their honour.

James Morgan and his brothers were evacuated to North Wales

James Morgan was born in 1935.

When war broke out, his two older brothers were sent to Ruabon in North Wales but James and his younger brother Bernard stayed at home with their mother in Liverpool.

James recalled playing in the street with kites when he and Bernard heard a rumble in the sky and saw a German bomber overhead.

With James' home destroyed, they were forced to sleep rough and get food where they could.

Their mother and Bernard were eventually moved to Shap, Cumbria, while James was sent to live with his older siblings.

However, it was in the supposed safety of the countryside that the now 8 year old experienced something which would affect him for the rest of his life.

Richard, 12, had found an anti-tank grenade on his way to school and buried it at home.

Michael, 10, asked James to see it and started playing with the unexploded bomb in a garage.

Michael died before he could get to hospital.

It was an experience that haunted James for the rest of his life and a story he could tell only in his later years.

A newspaper report on the inquest into Michael's death

James died in April 2021, but not before recording his memories of the ordeal on video.

His family had already told him about the idea for a statue to remember all evacuees.

The family has begun fundraising for the £6,000 needed to create a maquette model of the statue. The final price tag could be upwards of £70,000.

James' relatives have enlisted the skills of sculptor Andy Edwards, who created the statue of The Beatles at the Pier Head and a sculpture commemorating the Christmas truce of 1914 during the First World War.

The latter is based in the grounds of St Luke's Bombed Out Church, where the family hopes the new statue could be set.

James Morgan's nephew, Jim Thompson, is also keen for the city to commemorate the evacuees.

His mother was one of four siblings sent to the country. She was about 6 years old.

Jim, from Waterloo, told me how many families in Liverpool were affected by the evacuations.

Yet he was still shocked to discover his uncle's story.

The family wants people to get in touch with their own memories about this important part of the city's history.

It is hoped their stories will be included in the final design.

Child evacuees waving goodbye before boarding a waiting train for the country Credit: Sport and General/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive

Liverpool's evacuees in numbers

According to the Museum of Liverpool, a staggering 85,000 children, teachers and parents were moved out of the city between 1-6 September 1939.

They went to rural parts of Lancashire, Wales, Shrewsbury and Shropshire.

However, when no bombs fell, parents brought their children back and nearly 40% had returned by the following January.

Liverpool Corporation began a second programme of evacuation after heavy bombing in December 1940.

1,399 children were sent away days before Christmas.

The evacuation continued throughout the spring of 1941 and even more parents sent their children away after the May 1941 blitz.