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The Children who Fought Hitler Hardcover – 1 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848540868
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848540866
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 908,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'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)

Book Description

A British school stranded in occupied Europe


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By AJB Orr-Ewing on 11 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JennyGee on 13 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. M. JONES on 1 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. B. Murphy on 20 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Rolfe on 6 May 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book started life from a great deal of research by Jimmy Fox who lived in Ypres and went to the same British school as my brothers and sisters - Sue Elliot has done an excellent job in putting all this down. My father was an ex 1914-18 soldier in the Royal Horse Artillery and in 1919 volunteered to work for the War Graves Commission in Ypres as a gardener. Unbelievably, some the 350 British were not pulled out of Belgium at the outbreak of war. Hence the graphic account of women and children making a dash for Calais with the help of Captain Howarth (a bit like Capt Mannering!). The book describes graphically his heroic efforts and I probably would not be here today - but for him. There is an excellent account of the history of the War Graves Commission in its early days (now the Commonwealth War Graves) and a lot of it is quite moving. I don't think people understand the scale of the casualties and you have to go there and see cemeteries like Tyne Cot to see the sacrifices made by so many young men. This is not to take anything away from the present conflict. One casualty is one too many and I grieve with the relatives My son has served both in Iraq and Afghanistan flying the Nimrod. He lost many good friends when one went down. To return to the book, I think it is an excellent account of life in the 1920s and later in Ypres. My only criticism is that I don't think the title did it any favours. Sorry to go for so long - but I am an interested party to those events.
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