WW2 through the eyes of a child: It is mid-summer, 1944 and Britain is embroiled in war.
A large percentage of city and town dwellers are being killed; homes bombed, and personal belongings destroyed. The people not only fear for their own safety, but they also realize, that even if they are fortunate enough to survive there is a slim chance their offspring will not.
They feel they have no choice but to send their children to remote country villages to be raised by strangers, in the hope they will have a better life. The only adults permitted to travel with the children are mothers with youngsters under five years old, the infirm and the elderly. Meantime, the community of Honesty Brook Dale feel it’s their duty to rally together to help the evacuees by sharing their homes and limited food and clothing supplies.
I was only a child during WW2 and evacuated out of London to Northampton, but probably a little too young to remember much of what was going on around me. I knew I had been taken somewhere strange, but didn’t feel alone or scared, unlike some of the children in these circumstances.
Reading this book, listening to the children as they tried to cope with being uprooted or worse, have their homes and family destroyed in front of them, must have been terrifying. Making me realise I was a lot luckier than most.
The people who took in these evacuees found themselves taking a very different role in the war effort. For most, it wasn’t easy, squeezing extra people into their lives when food was already rationed. People who must have resented being treated like lost luggage.
I loved the name of the village in this book, Honesty Brook Dale. Honesty is one of my favourite flowers and is mentioned several times, reminding me of the shiny silver seedpods I loved as a child.
I know you’re not supposed to have favourites when it comes to children, but I couldn’t help loving Cyril Blessum. A typical boy, into every mischief, desperately trying to understand everything, and not making a very good job of any of it.
“If only me Dad were able to come home, George wouldn’t have to be so tired from working long hours … and we could have fun again,” he added as new tears threatened to spill down his cheeks.
Unbeknownst to Cyril, George had been standing at their bedroom door, listening. “Nobody wants change, our kid, but we have to make the best of what we’ve got,” George said as he joined Cyril by the window.
He gently squeezed Cyril’s shoulder and continued, “Remember when we used to walk for miles over the fields. We would play by the brook and go as far as the entrance to the coalmines or walk across the fields in the opposite direction towards the cottage hospital. That’s how far I biked today looking for ya. I was real worried, our kid. I thought something bad had happened to ya … that’s why I got so mad.”
Cyril slipped his hand into George’s and said, “I am sorry, honest … but I don’t know what to do to make things right with Mam.”
“Ya know I was thinking Cyril. Mam used to love it when we picked a few flowers for her while we were over the fields. Her favourite is honesty because she loves the delicate shades of pinks and purples. I remember she always managed to find a spare jam jar to put them in. We can pick a few at the weekend if ya want?”
“Yeah, it will be just like old times … only without Dad.”
This heart-warming but sometimes sad story reminded me of The Railway Children, waiting for the war to end and their fathers and brothers to come home…
About the Author
Chris-Jean Clarke grew up in the West-Midlands (UK) but now resides in South Staffordshire (UK) with her husband, Geoff and children, Nathan and Kyrsten.
Prior to giving birth to her two beautiful children, Chris-Jean worked for twenty years with people with learning and physical disabilities.
She studied the art of writing children’s stories @The Writing School, Oxford Open Learning.
Chris-Jean also donates stories & poems twice yearly to the Peacock Writers to benefit various charities. (NB She does not publish her contributions in any other form.)
November 2016, Chris-Jean was accepted as a paid reviewer for Readers’ Favorite. During this month she was also accepted as a Publishing Assistant for the Books4Kids program, South Dakota.
Early 2018, Chris-Jean transitioned from Publishing Assistant to author with the release of her educational story: To Dye For.