The Black Middens

A story of love and struggle to bring up three children during the war years.
Joe Donnelly, a coble fisherman from cullercoats meets the girl of his dreams when Emily Rose Higgins crashes into him on her bicycle whilst out with her sister Mary Jane. Joe and his brother George, a captain in the British Army ask the two girls out to a dance at the plaza in Tynemouth and they both fall in love. Alan Donnelly the youngest of the brothers is in the Northumberland Fusiliers. it is not long before they all get married. Emily Rose has two children but there are complications during the birth of her third child and she dies leaving Joe to bring up Marina, George, and Helen the newborn child.
After some attempts to try and hire a nanny come house keeper Joe hires a dutch girl called Alina Classen whose parents were both killed by the Germans in the first world war.
Not speaking much English Alina works very hard and teaches the children to speak Dutch and they in turn teach her English. What dev


23. 23

Alan and George stood in the church in full military regalia many of his colleagues from his regiment had made the journey to see him married.

They stood chatting behind him as Joe and George watched the main door for the signal that the bride had arrived, then in walked Major General Albert Colson.

“Stand to attention the General has just walked in whispered one of the privates. all of the soldiers shuffled along the row in military fashion to allow the General and his wife a place.

Alan and George and the privates turned and saluted the General who immediately told them to stand at ease.

“So the big day has arrived then sergeant?

“Yes sir; Ma’am.

“This is my lady wife Patricia;

“Pleased to meet you Ma’am.”

“Patricia spoke very softly to Alan and wished him good luck.

“They then took their places as the organ played Mendelssohn’s wedding march.”

Alan turned to see his bride who looked absolutely beautiful. Her father led Catherine McMullen down the aisle in perfect timing then handed her over to stand with Alan so they could take their vows.

David McKinnon the vicar of the church came out and stood in front of Alan and Catherine and began the ceremony.


When the wedding was over they all headed back to the club where the reception was being held. All of Alan’s school mates came in turn to kiss the bride and wish him luck. The speeches were read by the Major General and his brother George then o newly married couple drove off for their honeymoon in Blackpool. Alan was given ten day’s leave then both he and his wife would be posted to Northern Ireland where they would live on the barracks near Belfast. In 1928 the IRA made a pact with the Russians and Joseph Stalin who would pay them £500 pounds a month for information about the UK and the USA. Frank Aiken, De Valera, and Fianna F’ail approved it. They were succeeded by Andrew Cooney, and Moss Twomey. Who supplied the Red Army with information about the activity of British submarines patrolling the Arctic Sea? Then they gained information on the Army, Navy, and Air forces. A lot of Irish communists were also members of the IRA. Members included George Gilmore, Peadar O’Donnell, and Frank Ryan. There were strong reactions from the Catholic Church who opposed any form of communism.

Alan and his brother George were sent in to infiltrate these communist groups and gain counter intelligence.

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