war boy

War Boy, Michael Foreman’s autobiographical account of life as a small boy in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, during the Second World War. Together with his Mum, brothers Ivan and Bernard (known as Pud), and Aunt Louie he survives when incendiary bombs hit their house and outside toilet. His Mum’s shop becomes a haven for soldiers and sailors billeted nearby. They drink tea, smoke and swap jokes, providing Foreman with a rich and varied vocabulary. He vividly recalls a young boy’s delights and anxieties against the backdrop of much wider horrors. The illustrations include reproductions of contemporary material such as cigarette cards and posters.
In this picture: his memory of the bombing of Pakefield Church, Monday 21st April, 1941.

The Guardian shows us some of the brilliant art work from the book (and others):


During the war the shop was always full of customers. Before I could walk my world was a world of legs – soldiers’ legs, sailors’ legs, bus drivers’ legs and, worst of all, little old ladies’ legs. Growing up in the shop was fantastic – American GIs, Poles, Czechs, Australians, troops from all over the world came to our shop for cigarettes and cups of tea and inspired my desire to travel the world.

Here he is on his approach to illustration:

I keep trying to make things more real, not in a literal photographic sense, but in an emotional sense , telling a story by capturing the essence of the situation, giving it some meaning.

It is a wonderful thing to have someone who can pass on the history of the great events of living memory in such a real way. Every place, every time should have one.


1 Comment »

  1. […] there’s a sequel, and one of those beautifully drawn and painted books by Michael Foreman (I’ve mentioned these before), and Morpurgo’s favourite among his […]

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