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 Joyce returned she told Joe that she had found someone who was prepared to stay. “She is Dutch Joe; she doesn’t speak a lot of English mind but I’m sure you will get around the language barrier.”

“She came from a care home where the children were brought up she brought up most of them from a very early age so she knows all about babies.”

“She will be here this evening Joe as I told her that you needed someone urgently.”

“Good; you have done well Joyce; I know that you will have chosen the right person for me. Joyce went back into the house and Joe closed the door.


Joe got the shock of his life when he opened the door to see a tall blonde haired girl at his door.

“Hi, you Joo?

“Hi it is Joe; he corrected her.”

“Joyce she tell me to come.”

“Come in here give me your case and I will put it in your room.

“Joe pointed to the case and she handed it to him.”

“Please come in.”

“He ushered with his hand and the girl came inside. She must have been close to six feet tall he thought as she walked down the passage into the scullery.

“I will show you around; if you would follow me.

“This will be your room he said as he placed the case on top of the bed.

“This is the children’s room; he pointed to his room then moved on to show her the inside toilet; and then the coal house.

“Do you know how to use the stove?

“Ya, I know this.

“This is the larder where the food is kept and the baby food he made a rocking motion with his hands.

“Ya baby yes.”

“What is your name?

“I called Alina Claasen.”

“Well Alina we get up at six o’clock. He pointed to the clock and indicted the time then he put his hands together on the side of his face to indicate sleep and the time the children go to bed.

“Good I know this.”

Joe put on the kettle and emptied the tea pot. Then asked if Alina drank tea?

“Ya I take tea.”

“How long have you lived in England? Joe opened and closed his fingers.”

“Alina held up five fingers.

“Moeder en Vader no more.”

“Your mother and father are both dead?

“Ya Germans shoot.”

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