Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Machine Gunners” as Want to Read:
The Machine Gunners
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Machine Gunners

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,293 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
With Nazi planes raining bombs on England night after night, every boy in Garmouth has a collection of shrapnel and other war souvenirs. But nothing comes close to the working machine gun Chas McGill pulls out of a downed bomber. While the police search frantically for the missing gun, Chas and his friends build a secret fortress to fight the Germans themselves.
Paperback, 186 pages
Published September 22nd 1997 by Harper Teen
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,020)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 28, 2011 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
First published in 1975, I read this in the late seventies, aged 9 or 10. I've since read it twice more as an adult and am always gripped by the excitement, the suspense, the build-up and the action. As an adult I can see new aspects to the book, tales of friendship and evolving relationships, heartwarming and heartwrenching at the same time.

Contrary to other reviews, this book is not set in London, but in the north east of England, north of Newcastle - honestly, this is an important point, as
Jonathan Imre
My response after reading chapters 1 - 5 is, this book so far is going great, im enjoying it very much and i want to keep reading. But I can't as we are reading it as a class. The reason I like Chas because, he really wants to beat Boddser in his Collection of war wreackage, he is really keen on beating him, he even put his life endanger to saw of a machine gun of and take it home. The most suprising thing iv'e learned from this book is that, Chas has a hard life, hiding in the shelters at night ...more
I'm on a literary mission to re-read all the books I loved as a child. Well, the ones I remember anyway, I only started keeping a list in 1999.

Thoroughly enjoyable read. Think this is one I read in primary school and picked it up initially based solely on the fact that it is set in the North East of England. I remember going through a phase of reading nothing but World War II literature and this was one of them. Need to get hold of some Michelle Magorian soon.
Seever Hussain
My response after reading chapters 1 to 5.

So far in this book it has been rather interesting, and it makes me want to read more. It has been the first novel that has contained World War II. Has it is also set in the town Garmouth which is in England. In chapter 1 it started in the morning after an air-raid had been. Before school starts, Chas McGill, goes off to collect war souvenirs.

In chapter 5, Cem goes into the forest but unfortunately gets caught by fatty hardy,Boddser gets busted/caught by
The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall is set during the blitz of WWII in a northern British city. It follows the adventures of 14-year-old Chas McGill and his friends as they discover a downed German machine gun and secretly build their own bunker to house it, the better to defend Britain’s shores from the upcoming German invasion. Because authorities are keen to recover the missing gun, their movements are being tracked by a bumbling policeman, a suspicious teacher, and the neighborhood bully.

Mar 06, 2011 Dagmar1927 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My grandfather prompted me to read this book when I was about 11 and I thought that it was absolutely brilliant. On all the times I've read it since, it has lost none of it's original lustre and, if possible, has got even better now that I understand everything better.

What makes this book even better and more vivid for me is that I found out recently that one of my grandfather's friends actually found a crashed German bomber, "borrowed" the machine gun and took it home. He showed it to his frien
Oct 04, 2009 surge99 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this book from the book shelves in my class. I chose this book because it had an appealing title and I like war-time stories.

My favourite part of the book is when Chas McGill, the main character is being chased by Chas' enemy, Boddser Brown, through the makeshift marshes in Garmouth. I found this passage very thrilling and it encouraged me to read on.

This book was unpredictable. I had no idea what was going happen next. people who were going about there every day lives were thrown in to a
James Roy
Nov 14, 2009 James Roy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like much of Westall's work, this book is set in WW2 England, where boys' idea of fun is to collect assorted debris from the carnage of the Blitz (bits of planes and bombs, with the nose-cone of a Messerschmitt the ultimate prize). But when some boys find something rather larger, and more dangerous, they decide that they can play a real role in the war effort.

This is the perfect book for reluctant boy readers who are competent at the technical aspects of reading, but simply don't think there's a
May 06, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
“Chas McGill had the second best collection of war souvenirs in Garmouth and he desperately wanted it to be the best”
Chas is fourteen, living with his Mum and Dad in the Tyneside town of Garmouth. Whilst the war is sometimes a schoolboys dream of fun - getting souvenirs, missing school, periods of excitement - it is also quite terrifying, especially the air raids that mean he and his family have to spend the night in the Anderson shelter. When he discovers a crashed plane, complete with machine
I don't have much to write other than what I wrote in my updates. This is the first book I read set during World War 2, and what I can say truthfully is that the setting was impeccable, if that is even the word to describe it. What
I mean is that it was clear from the setting of the story, the many cultural references that I couldn't understand and the way the characters spoke and their accent were all so real and felt authentic. You could tell instantly that this was an author that lived in a t
K. Carters
Apr 27, 2014 K. Carters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. Quite inspiring and really felt like the era in question -a clever trick from the late author as it's 40 years old now! I liked the story, I liked the way it didn't treat the kids like idiots and touched nicely on a lot of adult themes and I liked the way it ramped up the fear expertly...

If I was to offer criticism, I felt it needed to be about Nicky rather than Chas and Cem. He was the interesting character -the others only found the gun. I also found the ending a bit abrupt
Nisse Visser
Aug 23, 2015 Nisse Visser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as a child and the story left a lasting impression on me. After publishing Will's War in Brighton and working on other books that deals with children relating to the Second World War I picked up Westall's book again and read it with just as much fascination and pleasure as I did the first time. I especially like Westall's defence of the language use by his characters, claiming that it's simply not authentic if there's no swearing because that is what kids are like. I've had simi ...more
Jul 20, 2015 Fizzy123 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a cracking read and I was done with it in a few hours over 2 days. Author didn't faff around setting up the premise and then it was driven purely by the actions of the characters. I liked how even characters with fleeting appearances were memorable due to their mannerisms or the way they talked. There was a nice flow to proceedings and non of the plot elements ever felt forced. Its also laugh out loud in places.

Finally, there was a sense of realism and humanity that I didn't expect from
Aug 16, 2011 Ivor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now read it five times and I still enjoy it! 'Where to now?'
Ben Holden
Dec 19, 2013 Ben Holden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This would make a great film!
Hugely influenced my childhood imagination! I still love the grit of the book: 'British boys fight with their fists!' etc. There are some great characters - Chas's father, Chas's teacher surrounded by colourful cameos - Nana, the bedridden old lady and her haranguing daughter, Fatty Hardy, the Polish Officer...

There is a palpable sense of fear and foreboding that is unusual for a childrens novel. Consequently, you see the way in which various characters cope with i
Trent Searles
The book I read was the Machine gunners. The book takes place during world war 2 in Europe. A German plain crashes and a boy gets a back a machine gun and the police are trying to recover it. The war is making life hard to keep friends and stay a live.
I liked this book because it involved Machine Gun and World War 2. The think I didn't like was the books Font was to small and to long to get to the good parts.
I would recommend this book to people who like World War 2 and a book with small fant a
Jenny Butler
Feb 26, 2015 Jenny Butler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
Chas McGill's world is so different to ours. It is WW2 and Chas lives in Garmouth in the UK and goes to the grammar school there. One of the big pastimes of boys at this time was collecting war souvenirs - any machine gun bullets, tail fins from incendiary bombs, nose cones from anti-aircraft shells that they could find. Chas has the second best collection in Garmouth behind Boddser Brown. In the first chapter, Chas comes across a crashed German bomber - a Heinkel He 111 with a dead German pilot ...more
Adam Stone
Aug 26, 2013 Adam Stone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Machine Gunners tells the story of six children during the second world war after one of them finds a crashed German plane (complete with dead pilot) and takes the machine gun as a souvenir, and then as they build a fort in the garden of another child (to help the fight against the Germans – or Jarmans as they are colloquially known in the local lingo of north eastern England where this is set) and end up keeping an injured German officer prisoner inside the fortress (well as much as a bunch ...more
Mar 24, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story itself is enticing: kids stumble across a machine gun from the tail end of a crashed German bomber plane. They then decide to use it against the Germans and create elaborate "forts" and tunnels to elude their parents, the police, and the class bully. They even stumble across Rudi, the German pilot, who becomes a father-figure to the boys and adds a bit of confusion to the whole thing. But, honestly---"confusing" is probably the best word to describe this book and Westall's writing. The ...more
Feb 07, 2011 Lex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, favourites
One of my favourites as a child and I still love it now.
The characterisation is absolutely brilliant and it's so very British. The Blitz spirit of the kids, how they all band together against the Germans but then befriend Rudy and are so loyal to the fortress that the "us against them" almost extends to their parents. So immensely quoteable too: "British boys fight with their fists" "He held my head under water for 10 minutes and I told him nothing !" "God, ye're half-drowned man ! You're a hard
Alex Baugh
Jun 15, 2011 Alex Baugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
The Machine Gunners is Robert Westall’s first novel about World War II. It is set in the town of Garmouth, a seaside town in northern England. Though fictional, it is modeled on Tynemouth, the town where Westall grew up during the war.

The novel begins the morning after an air-raid. Before school starts, Chas (Charles) McGill, 14, goes off to collect souvenirs, things like bits of shrapnel or incendiary bomb fins from the raid. Chas has the second best collection in school, so when he stumbles u
Robbie Leslie
Nov 14, 2013 Robbie Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic of children's literature.
Robert Westall gives a child's/young teen's perspective on living through war-time in a provincial coastal town. He pulls no punches in his narrative and never patronises the young readership that the book is aimed at. He provides a thill-laden, fast-paced, page-turning story with a hefty degree of emotional depth.
I read this aged 11 and absolutely loved it. But there were some more adult themes in the book that I didn't understand at that time. Their presence
Bedirhan Teymur
My response after reading Chapter 1-5

The machine Gunners is interesting as it show a bit of how people lived in WW2 it focuses on a child named Chas who is an ordinary kid in the town of Garmouth. The story show how the children have fun while in the war by collecting broken plane parts from plane that have crashed during the war, but Chas find something more exiting than the usual bomb Fin, bullet shells and shrapnel, He finds a whole plane with a Machine gun and Evey thing Including the pilot.
Jake March
May 07, 2013 Jake March rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have just finished reading "The Machine Gunners." I would give this book a 3 out of 5. My reason for this is because most of the story was interesting and kept you hooked in but, one thing that I didn’t really like was story I’m not really into war type of books but this book changed my mind set!
The Machine Gunners is about a English boy from Garmouth. His name is Chas McGill, he is 12. And he found a machine gun off a crashed German airplane and cut the gun off the plane. He didn’t know at t
Ayaan Lutfi
I have finally finished reading "The Machine Gunners."Overall I would rate this book a well deserved 4 out of 5.The reason for this is because most of the story was very interesting and kept you hooked in but, other parts seemed like it was prolonging the plot.So I am now going to write a short summary of the book. This book is about a English boy in North East of England in the town of Garmouth. The main character is called Chas McGill, he is a 12 year-old boy. He which then finds a machine gun ...more
Charlie Hirst


So far the book is going really good, i think its really interesting and i want to read more.

So far it has introduced some main characters.

We know that Chas is keen on collecting some of the pieces from broken bombs and planes that have been shot down during raids. He has the second best collection but the person who has the best is Boddser. Chas and Boddser dont like each other, Boddser is a bully.

An interesting part was when Chas went searching for some good parts to collect.

Lari Don
Aug 28, 2012 Lari Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-books
An incredible book, and quite a disturbing one. It’s an amazing evocation of life under siege – not a traditional walled city siege, but the airborne bombing siege of WWII which meant that families in an English harbour town feared death from the skies every night, but had to get on with their ordinary lives during the day. And it’s a story about how that constant tension and destruction affects the children of the town. The story starts with Chas, a boy who collects war souvenirs. Then he and a ...more
S.P. Moss
Oct 01, 2013 S.P. Moss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gripping book is the story of what happens when a group of teenagers in North-East England take the (Second World) War into their own hands. The great thing about this book is the authentic feel of it - the boys (and token girl) have the same friendships and rivalries and difficulties at home and school as any teenager has, but this is all played out against a backdrop of bombing raids, death and destruction and the threat of imminent invasion. This leads to a mix of excitement and emotion, ...more
Oscar Sharpe
Sep 26, 2013 Oscar Sharpe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Machine Gunners

by Robert Westall

The Machine Gunners is a book how bout a boy named Chas and a group of his friends that bulid a fortrass in one of his friends what used to be back yard in World War 2. During the story there are countlass air raids over his town and by the end of the bookthe Germans are thought to be invaidng. So it all starts off when Chas go's to explore one of the German fighter planes that crashed somewhere in hi town that night so that he can take some stuff from it and
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 67 68 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Tulku
  • The Military Philosophers (A Dance to the Music of Time, #9)
  • The Wool-Pack
  • Covenant With Death
  • Williwaw
  • Confederates
  • Death of a Hero
  • The Otterbury Incident
  • The Ghost Drum (Ghost World, #1)
  • The Ship
  • Smith
  • The Return of the Twelves
  • South Wind
  • Fair Stood the Wind for France
  • A Pack of Lies
  • Viking's Dawn (Viking Saga, #1)
  • Taronga
  • A Parcel of Patterns
Robert Westall was born in North Shields, Northumberland, England in 1929.

His first published book The Machine Gunners (1975) which won him the Carnegie Medal is set in World War Two when a group of children living on Tyneside retrieve a machine-gun from a crashed German aircraft. He won the Carnegie Medal again in 1981 for The Scarecrows, the first writer to win it twice. He won the Smarties Priz
More about Robert Westall...

Share This Book