One of Worthing’s worst war-time incidents is the starting point for the new saga Sing Them Home from Worthing author and Sunday Times best-seller Pam Weaver.
The book is inspired by a devastating real-life plane crash in the town in 1942 when a German bomber crashed into a local house.
In Pam’s story, the incident brings three women together who form bonds of friendship – and a singing troupe – to boost morale. Then their husbands return home from the war…
Pam will be signing copies of the book in Waterstones in Worthing on Saturday, June 23 at 6pm.
“There were not many wartime incidents in Worthing compared to other places. We had about 268 bombs falling in the area, which sounds quite a lot, but when you think of the Blitz in London and Portsmouth and Southampton, Worthing got off reasonably lightly. The Blitz went on for months in London.
“But this was quite a big event for Worthing. But really there was so much luck attached to the incident.”
It could easily have been much, much worse.
“It was a German plane that came in over the sea, and it had been hit by one of the batteries along the coast. It had been shot at and it came in low over the water. It came up Madeira Avenue and headed past the gasworks and towards the hospital, and thank goodness, it didn’t hit the hospital. That would have been dreadful.
“But it hit a wall and ricocheted across and hit a house with a lot of big trees around it. Unfortunately, the house was being used as a billet for Canadian soldiers. Four Canadians died, which was not reported much at the time, and all the Germans in the plane died. I have read a couple of reports. One of them said there were four Germans; another report said there were five.
“I had come across the incident before with one of my other books, but I just never used it before. And now I start this book with it. There were all the houses there. I thought I could put my characters in those houses. These women had never met each other before, but through the incident they become friends.”
And so three strangers meet for the first time that day – Pip, Stella and Lillian. Lillian’s little girl Flora has been hurt in the crash and is rushed to hospital. As she comes through her ordeal, she finds her mother and her two new ‘aunties’ by her bedside.
The three new friends quickly bond over shared experiences; all their husbands are overseas in the fighting forces. They also have the same love of singing and soon form The Sussex Sisters, Worthing’s answer to The Andrews Sisters, to boost morale in in dance halls and canteens all over the south coast.
When D-Day finally arrives, it’s the promise of a brighter future they have all been longing for. But the men that return home are altogether different from the husbands they waved off.
How will they respond to their wives’ new-found fame? How will the women live alongside these distant, damaged men?