AN OTLEY mum is gaining plaudits for a book about children growing up 'on the front line of war'.
Amanda Herbert-Davies was inspired to create Children in the Second World War: Memories from the Home Front after being questioned by one of her own children.
The book, just published by Pen & Sword Ltd, is a compilation of childhood memoirs gleaned from the Second World War Experience Centre's archives in Walton, Wetherby.
Amanda, who edits the centre's journal, Everyone's War, used previously unpublished sources to shine a light on the experiences of more than 200 young people during the conflict.
The mother-of-two, who has an honours degree in Conservation and Restoration of Historic Art, said: "The inspiration for Children in the Second World War came from my children who were learning about the Second World War at primary school.
"One came home with an ‘evacuee’s suitcase’ made from a cereal box.
"To help answer their numerous questions, I looked through the centre's archives for childhood memoirs and what I discovered was the startling reality of growing up in a country on the front line of war.
"I read about child air raid messengers fearlessly dodging bombs in cities under siege; the youth Cycle Patrol patrolling the parish with the vicar’s WW1 pistol; and an underage member of the Home Guard stumbling across Rudolph Hess, Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler, having a cup of tea in a local farmhouse."
Several of the children featured in the book are from Otley, Ilkley and Leeds - and faced problems adjusting even when they were only moved a few miles to escape the bombs.
Amanda said: "One Leeds Modern School pupil, evacuated to Ilkley, recalled the new communal feeding system at All Saints School where food was served, literally, by the fistful.
"In Otley Julia Woledge’s family faced suspicion as they were ‘foreigners’- from Leeds - though Julia could not help but wonder if it was due to her father’s moustache, 'which may have reminded people of Hitler.’
"I had the great pleasure of being contacted by Julia recently and we have arranged to meet this summer on her annual pilgrimage to her wartime childhood home of Otley."
Children in the Second World War, available online and at major book stores, has been featured in two national newspapers and received glowing reviews.
Delighted with the early success, Amanda added: "I hope to meet many more of my ‘children’.
"In the meantime, the evacuee cereal-box-suitcase remains on my bookcase - forever a reminder of questions that were answered the only way possible, by a book that tells it all."