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


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When Joe got back Joyce Junghan’s had made something for him and the children to eat.

He looked in the wooden crib at his daughter who was fast asleep.

Joyce said she had fed the baby and had been across to the clinic and had got him a supply of Ostermilk formula for the baby.

“Helen’s next feed is in three hours but if she wakes before then feed her. I had a lot of nappies that I kept from my children Joe; you can use them until you can get out to buy some for the baby.”

“Thanks Joyce.

“Joyce waited until she was at the door before she told Joe that she had laid his wife out in her favourite dress and did her hair for her. The funeral is this Monday Joyce at ten o’clock. I have informed George and he is going to tell our Alan for me. They may be here later tonight.

“If there’s anything you need Joe just knock.

“Thank you so much Joyce.”

Joe closed the door then went into the bedroom where his wife lay he kissed the now cold body. She looked as though she was just sleeping. He sat in the chair by the bed and didn’t want to come out again; but he knew he must; his children would need him; more now than at any time in their lives. He opened the door then gently closed it behind him.

Marina and George were sitting on the floor near their newborn sister.

“We are going to say goodbye to your mother on Monday morning children the funeral directors will be coming to put your mother in her heavenly bed soon so if you would like to go in and say goodbye I will take you in now.”

Both Marina and George got up and followed their father into the bedroom.

Joe asked them to go give their mother a kiss; which they both did. Little George didn’t really understand he asked why his mother wasn’t waking up and Joe had to tell him that she was now with the angels in heaven.

“Will mam never be coming back daddy?

“No son; but you must never forget your mother ever do you hear me.”

“Yes daddy I won’t.”

Marina was sobbing and her father held her in his arms and said “Your mother will never be dead as long as you are living Marina. “ You look just like her; every time I look upon your face I will see your mother too.”

“I want you to be very brave and look after little George and Helen for me.”

It is going to be hard for us but we will get through this. “Your mother would want us to be strong.”

“Alright daddy; I will I promise. “ Can I go to my room for a while?

“Yes you can.”

Marina got up from her fathers knee then went to her room.

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