Hastings was often bombed during the Second World War. John Bristow, describing a raid on 23 May 1943 says 'There was a god-almighty explosion and we went into the passage by The Havelock pub and we dived onto the ground and lay there looking out before a bomb hit what was the old Royal Oak Hotel. Along by Woolworth's there was a car going by and it was set up into the air by the bomb and over and over. While we lay there, there was another terrific explosion down the side of Plummer's and I'll never forget seeing a huge lump of yellow coloured masonry coming over an land on the tram wires...'
This experience is one of more than forty people's memories, cleverly incorporated by the author into his vivid account of what Hastings endured when it was a 'front-line' town - and of its great defiance and fortitude in the face of the enemy. He tells how Hastings folk coped with the daily wartime hardships of blackout, rationing, the billeting of evacuees, the evacuation of the town, constant fear of invasion, and the relentless bombing raids, day and night, leaving in their wake a trail of death, destruction and the apprehension of where and when the next attack would come.