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The Children Who Fought Hitler [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio Cassette]

Sue Elliott , James Fox , Michael Tudor Barnes
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 2011

Few people know that Ypres, centre of First World War remembrance, was once home to a thriving British community that played a heroic role in the Second World War. This expatriate outpost grew around the British ex-servicemen who cared for the war memorials and cemeteries of 'Flanders Fields'. Many married local women and their children grew up multi-lingual, but attended their own school and were intensely proud to be British.

When Germany invaded in 1940 the community was threatened: some children managed to escape, others were not so lucky. But, armed with their linguistic skills and local knowledge, pupils of the British Memorial School were uniquely prepared to fight Hitler in occupied territory and from Britain. Still in their teens, some risked capture, torture and death in intelligence and resistance operations in the field. An exceptional patriotism spurred them on to feats of bravery in this new conflict. Whilst their peers at home were being evacuated to the English countryside, these children were directly exposed to danger in one of the major theatres of war.

James Fox was a pupil at the British Memorial School in 1940 and he has made it his mission to trace his former school friends. The Children Who Fought Hitler is their story: a war story about people from an unusual community, told from a fresh and human perspective.

Gardens of Stone: My Boyhood in the French Resistance, published recently by Hodder & Stoughton, tells the story of one of James's former school friends, Stephen Grady, and his role in the French Resistance.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Soundings Audio Books; Unabridged edition (1 Jan 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1407921908
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407921907
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'It's hard to come up with new, untold stories about World War Two, but this book succeeds in just that... [James Fox] has retraced all the individual stories with impressive detail and moving candour' (Military Illustrated)

'Fascinating' (Best of British)

'Extraordinary' (Sunday Express)

'essential reading' (Families Journal)

'A vivid slice of human history.' (Independent on Sunday) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A British school stranded in occupied Europe

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Story 11 Nov 2009
The story of the children of British gardeners, who lived in Belgium to establish and tend the War Graves after the First World War, would not at first sight seem an attention grasping subject.

However the story of the foundation of this expatriot English community and the establishment of a British School to educate the children of English fathers and French or Belgian mothers provides the starting point for an extraordinarily detailed, fascinatingly documented and moving book.

From the description of the annihilation of Ypres in the First World War to the tales of amazing bravery of two of the children, who as adults played their part in the Resistance in the Second, the narrative of this compelling book gives as good an account as many broader histories of the two World Wars.

Seen through the eyes of the members of the Community the book evokes in a vivid way the variety of individuals, some good some bad some weak some strong, who populate this little society.

The book is a thoroughly entertaining read and, because the characters are brought so strongly to life, their very ordinariness gives a colour and poignancy to this remarkable history.

Buy it!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By JayGee
Sue Elliott has skillfully managed to combine the history of a small group of seemingly ordinary British adults and children with their personal stories and recollections in a beautifully written and accessible form making the events come alive on the page.
So much has been written about the two great world wars it's overwhelming - it is refreshing to read about the struggles and achievements of a small but significant band of British children doing their (not insubstantial) 'bit' for the war effort.
You must read this book if you have any interest in people, the war, emotions and courage - it will entertain and surprise you. A great read!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Children who Fought Hitler 1 Nov 2009
Sue Elliott has written a truly excellent, and lively, chronicle of a unique group of children and their families living in extraordinary times. The style is engaging, extremely readable and will have a wide appeal to anyone interested in the day-to-day activities of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission, during the period between the two World Wars - as well as to those who enjoy reading more generally about the human experience.
Essentially this book recounts the story of the children of the ex-servicemen, who worked for the Commission creating and maintaining the vast number of First World War cemeteries and memorials in `Flanders Fields'.
The children were part of an expatriate community who attended the British Memorial School in Ypres, studying a very British curriculum but living in a wider multilingual community - often spending spare time amongst the cemeteries tended by their fathers. One of these children was Jimmy Fox who spent at least a decade tracing former pupils, and gathering their stories, to provide the core of this story.
The book is packed with fascinating anecdotes and facts - I had not appreciated just how soon the Commission got to work to establish the gardens around the growing number of graves. The moving pilgrimages of relatives of the dead in the immediate aftermath of war are described, as well as the experiences of those with the grim task of recovering bodies.
At the heart of this story are the extraordinary, and very different, travails of the children, with their families, as the German invasion of Belgium in 1940 loomed - and then engulfed - the community. Whilst many escaped to Britain in good time, others joined fleeing groups of refugees to undergo terrifying moments.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read 20 Nov 2009
I must confess that I normally avoid books, TV programmes or films with Hitler in the title. But I'm so pleased that I didn't follow that rule when I bought this book. It is a remarkable story or, should I say, it contains many remarkable stories. And it is written intelligently and with great sensitivity.

I finished the book feeling that I knew many of the people that Sue Elliot wrote about and I learned an awful lot about both world wars. I recommmend it wholeheartedly.
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