One Liverpool family's struggle to survive the Second World War, as the city was flattened by German bombers, and the men were far away at sea fighting to save England.
Three sisters, Eileen, Lucy and Nell, with their two brothers, Tom and Jack, find love and build families at the end of the 1930s. The nation lives in dread that a new war will break out in Europe and spread to home. Upon hearing the King's speech, the country transforms to a wartime footing.
Tom is already in the Merchant Navy and Jack steals his brother's identity to also go enlist. As they train and prepare for the worst, still the war remains far away from Tom's wife Gladys and her new baby. The families live their lives and play music at a local pub.
Once the massive evacuation of children sends thousands off to Wales, Lucy and her sisters decide to keep their children at home with them. The German Blitz rains bombs onto Liverpool in an effort to destroy the port. Neighborhoods near the docks are flattened one after the other, as the Germans try to disable the crucial shipping. Lucy's house is bombed, and so is Gladys', with her and the three children stuck inside beneath the rubble.
No matter, they move onto another house farther inland. Times are desperate, very little food. Diphtheria breaks out and claims scores of helpless children. It's a miserable subsistence, and every night the Gerries send more than a hundred bombers to destroy what remains of Liverpool. In the middle of this chaos and carnage, Doreen was born. She naturally feels a solemn duty to tell this story.
Jack Whitney's merchant ship was sunk by German U-Boats. As he floated in the oily, frigid sea, waiting to die, his best mate went mad and pulled the plug on his life vest, and drowned. After hours of waiting, as the battle continued across the water, another ship arrived on the scene looking for survivors. Beating the odds Tom Whitney, the older brother, plucked his little brother out of the north Atlantic. Tom, a gunner, was next sent to the Pacific theater to retake the Philippines and advance on Japan.
Post-war, dire poverty remained the greatest obstacle to survival. The kids schemed to make it through and better themselves, and the family did survive to tell the tale.