It is September 1940, Maggie and her young siblings, Grace and Billy, are living in the East End of London with their mother. Their father has been killed at Dunkirk and their mother goes into hospital to have her fourth child, leaving the children with a neighbour. In one of the worst bombing raids of the war their home is destroyed and the neighbour is killed. Bewildered and frightened, the children wander the streets until they are taken in by some nuns. But their problems are not over; no-one can trace their mother and, labelled as orphans, they are sent as child migrants to Australia.
The novel traces their adventures in their new country, the homesickness, the heartbreak when Billy is separated from his sisters and the loneliness of life in a cold and unfeeling orphanage. Eventually the children make new lives for themselves, but Maggie is still convinced that her mother is alive and once she is old enough, begins to search for her.
Based on the experiences of real people, this novel reflects the attitudes of the day towards child migration during and after the Second World War.