Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of the Children's Ship

by Deborah Heiligman

In 1940, 90 British children ranging in age from 5 to 15 were traveling on an ocean... read more

In 1940, 90 British children ranging in age from 5 to 15 were traveling on an ocean liner called The City of Beneres, bound for Canada, as part of a program to evacuate children from England during the Blitz. There were dozens of other passengers on the ship as well, and well over a hundred crew members; 407 people in all. A few days into the voyage, the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Survivors who made it onto lifeboats and rafts endured treacherous storms, freezing cold, hunger, and thirst. They had to hold on for two days before help arrived, and the passengers in one lifeboat weren’t rescued for eight days. Heiligman’s meticulously documented account of this harrowing event that killed 260 uses multiple points of view and perspectives from survivors. The author gives an insider’s view, making readers feel as though they are there before, during, and after the disaster by drawing on first- hand accounts from interviews (mostly from the Imperial War Museum, but some the author conducted) with survivors and their relatives. The narrative skillfully creates a strong sense of tension, and the compelling, poignant, hard to put down volume is illustrated with historic photographs and line drawings. (Age 11 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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