[The Jennifer Chronicles]
This post should be of interest to all you Downton Abbey fans as it pertains to World War II and British orphans.
It’s rare to find a woman named Jennifer who was born between 1925 and 1942. Those are the years that span the Silent Generation. I have come across a few in my research, but not many. But, here’s one. This is a girl named Jennifer who was likely orphaned during World War II.
Jennifer, probably orphaned during World War II, is the child on the far right (upper left). She is seated at the very front of the see-saw (lower left) and is pictured praying in the photo on the right.
Evacuated Generation of World War II
When war with Germany became imminent, Great Britain began a huge effort to evacuate its children to rural areas of the country. Some were sent to the United States, Australia and Canada, etc. The goal was to move them away from potential bombing targets such as London. Although these evacuations were not mandatory, many parents put their children on trains to save them from the ravages of war. In doing so, they saved their lives. Sadly, many of the parents perished in the German bomb attacks and many British children were orphaned.
As best I can surmise, the pictures in the collage of Jennifer were taken somewhere between 1944 and 1948. They are part of one of the most impressive photo collections I have come across on Flickr. It’s called Their History and it documents the lives and times of British orphans who grew up in various branches of the National Children’s Home. The orphan named Jennifer lived at a branch in the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. It was opened between 1917 and 1959.
I exchanged emails with the curator of this account, Philip. He was also an orphan at the National Children’s Home. His blog chronicles its history and his own personal experiences, as does his book, Philip: A Strange Child. He wrote to say Jennifer might still be alive. She’d probably be between 68 and 74. I hope her prayers were answered.
In 1942, this group of British children arrived at Plymouth Railway Station. That day they became evacuees, and later, many became orphans. These are members of the Silent Generation, a generation we really hear very little about compared to the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers.