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One Child's War

Throughout the Second World War, some 65,000 English civilians died from German bombing of one type or another. Twice that number were injured and thousands suffered psychological trauma as a result of the conflict that lasted six years. This book is a fictionalised account of the experiences of one young civilian during those difficult war years in England, based on and inspired by very real experiences.

Excerpt from Chapter 14
  I noticed that even the teachers who were the last to come into the shelter, looked far more tense than they had the day before. Suddenly we heard the inexorable drone of our unwelcome visitor getting louder and nearer and when it cut out we all tensed up and waited for the explosion. When it came, on this occasion, there was no feeling of relief inside that shelter. That was completely replaced by dread and terror. Everyone knew by the proximity and loudness of the bang, by the dust dropping from the ceiling above us, that it had landed very near indeed. In fact, I felt absolutely certain that it must have fallen on my road, just two blocks away and I knew that I had to go home right away.
  Almost at the same time, one of about three teachers who had looked out to see where the smoke must be rising, turned to us and said “Sit down all of you. Just stay where you are, d’you hear.” Well, I heard, but I also had no intention of sitting down and staying where I was and as soon as I saw a gap between the teachers at the doorway, I was up and through and running as fast as my legs could carry me down the road and away from the school.
  My name was called and the words “Come back here at once”, but I ignored everyone. My stomach was sinking and my eyes were smarting as I got to the bottom of the school road and started along the main road where ambulances, fire engines and all kinds of heavy duty lifting machines were either parking or turning up my road, my Private Close. All my worst fears were confirmed. The buzz bomb had landed on it somewhere and as I ran up I wondered whether the bastards had got my mother this time. Could she be lucky again?
 Not much hope from the scene of carnage that I saw with people staggering around and ambulancemen already guiding and stretchering some into the ambulances and taking them off. Then I saw her, still with a cleaning smock over her dress, her face covered in dust and tear stains, grasping my sister, Maureen, to her chest, almost running down the road towards me, with her old blue fluffy slippers on. It’s a scene I will never forget. The perfect example of the maternal instinct for her flock.
  She and Maureen had been in the house shelter when the bomb came down about fifty yards away.  The blast had showered them both with glass and debris, but she had no idea where the thing had landed and her first thought was that her son was just two roads away and might be hurt. Might be dead.  All that was in her face when I first spotted her and then it changed to relief and smiles as she hugged me to her and we all stood trembling and crying together.

“This beautifully written and moving fictionalised account of life as experienced through the eyes of a child during the second world war perfectly portrays the sense of time and place with meticulous detail. The many memorable characters depicted are so well drawn they seem to spring to life off the page. At times funny and full of childish mischief-making and at times poignant and distressing this is a book that will stay in your thoughts for a long time.”
Suzanne Karbowski, France

“It has humour and some sadness, but manages to capture the spirit that saw people through very dark days. It sparks off many memories and people of that generation will undoubtedly identify with a lot of the events that happen in the book. A worthwhile read for young and old alike.”
B W Foy, United Kingdom

© Hugh Hanafi Hayes 2013