The traditional story of British children in WW2 focuses on the story of the evacuees and on how young children coped with the deprivation of wartime life. Using a large number of fresh interviews, this book tells a different version. Instead, the author looks at the children and teenagers who played a more active role in the war effort. Subjects covered include: the work of Boy Scouts during the Blitz; 14 year-old cabin boys in the Merchant Navy; Home Guard, ARP and Fire Brigade messengers; Post Office boys delivering telegrams telling people of deaths of family members; and school leavers earning high wages on ‘war work’. Particular focus is placed on underage volunteers in the armed forces, including ‘boy sailors’, underage airmen and 14 year-old boys running away from home to join the army.
Other subjects covered reflect the changes that took place for people growing up in wartime Britain, including: attitudes to sex, teenage prostitution and venereal disease, crime and violence. The author also covers teenage prisoners of war, including 14 and 16 year-old boys. The book looks at a number of incidents that particularly affected children including: the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in which a large number of ‘boy sailors’ died; the Bethnal Green tube disaster; and the sinking of the SS City of Benares which was carrying evacuees to Canada.
Born in Bedford in 1965, Sean Longden first became interested in history as a child listening to his grandfather’s tales of Gallipoli. He went on to study history at the School of Slavonic and East European studies, University of London. After graduation he worked in a number of photographic archives and press agencies. During this period he worked as a picture editor, indexer and caption writer.It was working with archives of World War Two photographs that sparked his interest in the period and inspired him to write books that look beyond basic military history and into the lives of ...
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Richard Overy, Literary Review
"...a slice of real life that cuts across the more sanitised and detached narratives that historians, myself included, too often present as ‘proper history’...a rich, human book...sympathetic and sometimes shocking account. "
Camden New Journal
"…a significant history of those who endured the Blitz, their sad and magnificent forgotten stories now admirably recorded and brought back to stir my memories in what he calls “The children’s war against Hitler.""
"Longden allows his many interviewees to tell their own stories while supplying enough context to knit their disparate accounts into a compelling narrative...The stories are by turns amusing, shocking and unbearably sad and Longden has done us all a great service. "
Ham and High
"Blitz Kids recounts some powerful reminiscences from people who have got through it – a lesson to a generation that has inherited but largely forgotten its debt."
'Book of the month’, Best of British magazine.
"...a book that doesn’t pull its punches."