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The Children Who Fought Hitler Hardcover – Large Print, 1 Nov 2010
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'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 the Paperback edition.
A British school stranded in occupied Europe--This text refers to the Paperback edition. See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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.
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!
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'!
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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