But soon dad returns to the army, and mum, Billy and Rose spend uncomfortable nights in the Anderson shelter in the backyard in Balham, South London, but no bombs are falling in London yet. But that all changes on September 7, 1940. Now, bombs are falling and the three Wilson's decide go to the nearest Underground station when the air raid sirens go off. That way, they don't hear the sirens, the planes, and the bombs as much.
Night after night they carry blankets to the station, thinking they will be safe. And they are, until Balham Station takes a direct hit. Billy and Rose are separated from their mum, but thanks to the help of a new friend, they make it out of the station. But where is mum? It's hard to see anything in all the chaos, dust and debris, but Billy and Rose insist on waiting for her to come out of the station, until a WVS lady, Mrs. Bartley, makes them leave. After all, bombs are still falling.
Once in a shelter, it is decided by the authorities that Billy and Rose will be sent to Wales for safety - against their will, and with the Major in charge insisting, rather coldly, that they are now orphans. Luckily, at breakfast, they meet a boy about Billy's age called All-Off (because he cut all his hair off), who advises them not to go to Wales. But, although, All-Off gets out of the shelter in time, Billy and Rose are put on a transport truck to Paddington Station and Wales.
Determined to find his mum and to get back home to finally let Sheeba out of the Anderson shelter where she was put for safety, Billy waits for the right opportunity for escape the transport truck. By the time that happens, they are far from home and Billy has no idea how to get back to Balham.
As Billy and Rose make their way home, they meet with even more adventures, setbacks, and disappointments, but Billy finds a best mate in All-Off. Billy also discovers a courage within himself he probably never thought he possessed, as well as a strong sense of responsibility for Rose and Sheeba and it doesn't hurt that his new best mate has some pretty good street smarts.
I loved Barbara Mitchelhill's first WWII novel, Run Rabbit Run, based on real events, it's about a sister and younger brother who must deal with some harsh fallout because their dad is a conscientious objector. Billy's Blitz is also based on a real event. On October 14, 1940, Balham Station was being used as a bomb shelter and really did take a direct bomb hit, killing 64 people. Mitchelhill imagines the aftermath of a terrible disaster for two kids who don't know if their mum made it out alive or not. Her realistic description of the station, in fact of bombed London generally, are really spot on.
|What Billy saw when he came out of Balham Station|
Billy's Blitz is a compelling realistic novel that gives the reader a true to life picture of London during the Second World War. We tend to think that all of London's children were safely evacuated but many remained in London with their family and often, family members became separated or worse and kids were left to survive by themselves even while dealing with loss and grief. Mitchelhill's novel demonstrates how easy it is for this to happen in the midst of chaos, and how easily the best laid plans can go awry, yet she manages to do this without scaring her young readers.
This is a novel that is sure to please young readers, especially those interested in WWII and/or historical fiction.
This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was received from the author
This is book one of my 2015 War Through the Generations Reading Challenge