Recently, LRMS had a school Book Fair. I wanted to support the school, so I bought a book called Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman, published in 2019. It details the true story of the sinking of the SS City of Benares, or the “Children’s Ship” during World War II. As I like survival novels and historical nonfiction/fiction books, I thought this book would be pretty good, and it was.
The book takes place in the 3rd person point of view, retelling the stories of different people related to the tragic sinking of the ship. Relying on the memories and interviews of survivors of the sinking ship, Deborah was able to capture the feeling and mood of the entire story very well, and it allowed me to imagine exactly what everyone was going through on the ship.
Now, let me get into what the story is all about. Like I said before, it tells the story of the sinking of the SS City of Benares, which was a large boat assigned to take CORB children from England to Canada, and then to America so they would be safe from the war. CORB was a program in which children were sent by their parents away from England so that they would be far away from the bombs and gunfire in their country. Most of these CORB ships delivered the usually hundreds of children that boarded them safely, but the City of Benares has a tragic story. While it was carrying children, it was also carrying government officials, meaning that it was highly targeted as it was on war business. Now, during this time, large ships like the Benares were being torpedoed by German U-boats because of their size and what they could be holding. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to the Benares. On September 18, 1940, a German U-boat shot a torpedo at the Benares, sinking it and killing many people, including children.
While it is a very sad story, it is interesting to read about, especially in Torpedoed. The author did a great job with the writing and tells about all the actions of many different people aboard the sinking ship. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves survival novels such as the I Survived series. Another thing I love about this book is that it doesn’t use fictional characters. These characters were actual people on the ship who survived to tell the tale.