Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship”

Ages: 8 and upPublisher: Macmillan USA Author: Deborah Heiligman


With the constant bombardment of London by the Germans early in WWII, many children were injured or killed. In addition to sending children to safety in the countryside, the British government set up the “Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) to send children from all walks of life by ship to safety  in countries of British dominion: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa. With ninety CORB children aboard and a number of children traveling with their families, the SS City of Benares, the lead ship in a convoy, set sail for Canada from Liverpool on September 17, 1940. A German submarine, U boat 48,  had the convoy in sight all that stormy day. At 10:01 PM that night, when the weather calmed, the submarine launched two torpedoes that missed the ship; a third torpedo hit its target.

Telling the true story of the sinking of what became known as “The Children’s Ship,” the author introduces young readers to a tragedy inflicted upon real children with whom they can identify – some of whom lived and many of whom died. Heiligman’s quiet factual prose and understatement, this is a thoroughly compelling, first-rate history of the damage war inflicts on the young.

Kemie Nix ©2019 Parents’ Choice

Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children’s Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents’ Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

Available here