The story opens as the child Eileen and her mother Alice return to the multi-occupied Victorian house in West London where Eileen gets her first glimpse of a barrage baloon. That night they experience a heavy air raid; later they learn about the widespread devastation it caused in and that Alice's sister Kathy and her husband have been “bombed out” of their flat. A picture emerges of Eileen's mother, Alice, her poor health, sad history, and the obligatory “war work” in which she is involved. Two uncles are away in the Royal Air Force. They spend many nights with Alice's sister, Kathy, and experience the claustrophobic atmosphere of an Anderson shelter during an enormous raid on the London docks, Eileen's dangerous walk to school and her experiences there, the introduction of gas masks, the work of Air Raid Precaution wardens are described. Other family events, the hardships of rationing and shortages, “the war effort” and the adults' struggle to provide an enjoyable Christmas are covered. Illness, hospitalization and convalescence open up a new world. A brief period of unofficial evacuation is followed by Victory in Europe.