Crippled by polio, young Winnie Molloy has little to look forward to in life. Her father, Trevor, adores her but she is neglected by her feckless mother, Grace.
When war comes Trevor Molloy is called up. He fears for Winnie and persuades Sandy Coulson to wheel her to school each day in a converted pram. Two years older than her, Sandy sticks up for Winnie and promises to be her lifelong friend.
But Grace is drinking very heavily and loses one job after another. To pay the rent on the one squalid room they are now living in she takes Winnie in the pram out begging until she is given a warning by the police. When Trevor is reported 'Missing Presumed Dead' Grace goes on a drinking spree, meets with an accident and dies.
And Winnie is left loveless and alone...