The Machine Gunners

The original cover of the book.

‘Will you tell me how it all started?’

Chas looked at him.

‘No, sir. You’d never understand. Grown-ups never do.’

Chas McGill. I’ve never forgotten the name. I’ve always pictured him racing around the streets of a bombed out town looking for shrapnel in grey school shorts and knitted tank top, gas mask box trailing from his shoulder.

I always thought we’d get on great. I always wanted a friend like Chas McGill.

I loved this book at school. I loved it because there was swearing in it and our teacher at secondary school read the naughty words out loud; spat them out like bullets from a machine gun and as boys, we were hooked on the story of these children trying to hide a machine gun they’d pinched from a crashed German bomber.

It’s a fabulous story. Robert Westall creates characters that feel like you know them: like they’re your best friends, your aunts and nans and neighbours and dads. The story roars through the book like a squadron of Hurricanes and the plot twists drop down on you like hot shrapnel in an air raid.

The themes of the story are loyalty and friendship. It is about courage and fortitude in the face of adversity.

I love this book. I love Robert Westall’s writing. I love the characters and the idea but most of all I love you, Chas McGill.

To find out more about Robert Westall, a website dedicated to his work can be found here: robertwestall.com

by Mr Garley

Age: TBC

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