John Simpson was born on 9 August 1944 in Cleveleys, a spa town close to Blackpool. That day Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary, announced to the House of Commons that V2 bombers would arrive imminently from Germany to attack Britain. John’s mother, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, had been escorted by her husband to King’s Cross Station, where he had barged the queue to ask how far his wife could travel on a third-class ticket for his few coins. Her subsequent journey north – alone – took thirty hours. He joined her in time for his son’s birth.