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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Story
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...
Published on 11 Nov 2009 by AJB Orr-Ewing

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My family in Ypres 1941
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...
Published on 6 May 2010 by Robert L. Rolfe


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10 of 10 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
5.0 out of 5 stars A story full of the courage of exceptional 'ordinary' children ..., 13 Nov 2009
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Children who Fought Hitler, 1 Nov 2009
By 
A. M. JONES (UK) - See all my reviews
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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. But many remained in Ypres - some of the Commission staff were still hard at work as the Panzers poured around them.
The eye-catching title `The Children who Fought Hitler' comes from the stories of many ex-pupils whose knowledge of Flanders and their multilingual ability fitted them superbly to join the struggle against Hitler's forces; like Elaine Madden, who made it back to Britain and joined SOE, and Stephen Grady trapped in Belguim who fought with the Resistance.
There is much, much more - all in all, a `cracking good read'!
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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
By 
Mr. B. Murphy (london) - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars On the Front Line in Ypres between the Wars, 14 July 2014
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This review is from: The Children Who Fought Hitler: A British Outpost in Europe (Paperback)
A very interesting,detailed insight into post-WW1 life in Ypres and the development of the CWGC cemeteries,the life of the British community and their amazing WW2 exploits. Excellent book !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Having just been out in Ypres I found this book ..., 28 July 2014
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This review is from: The Children Who Fought Hitler: A British Outpost in Europe (Paperback)
Having just been out in Ypres I found this book fascinating and also very informative about how Ypres got back on its feet after the war. Very interesting too about the beginnings of the Imperial War Graves Commission work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My family in Ypres 1941, 6 May 2010
By 
Robert L. Rolfe "Robert Leopold Rolfe" (Wetherby West Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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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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5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very misleading title, 7 Nov 2009
By 
Mr. D. B. Daniels (UK) - See all my reviews
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The title implies children fighting Germans. In the 285 page book, this is only mentioned in the last 50 or 60 pages. And then only in broad, general terms. Only a few pages about specifics. Most of the small section dealing with fighting Germans is with people in the SOE or helping the resistance.
And the "childen" mentioned in the title are usually at least 18 / 19 years old - there are no 'children'[ youngsters aged up to 16 or 17 ] fighting the Germans in this book.

A more honest and accurate title [ albeit less eye catching ] would be something like:
"A very generalised account of life of some select families in the British community in Ypres from 1919 to 1945"

Having bought the book based on something connecting children fighting the Germans, I feel as though I have been thoroughly conned by the title. The "blurb" on the back cover and inside cover is equally misleading in backing up the main title and thus deliberately making the potential reader believe the book is about something completely different from the content of the book.

It is very disappointing that authors feel the need to mislead buyers in this way.
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