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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“Well done Peter; I was thinking of getting them something nice this year with their mother not being here and now you have come up with this.”

“Not a problem my friend.”

Joe took a drink of his beer and asked him how Goliath was doing;

“He is as strong as horse he laughed.”





“More like two horses that one Peter; are you going to continue working throughout the winter?

“I will not get anything locally now mate; but you never know I may get a few houses to empty. “ You know this time of year kills a lot of old folk.”

“Well if you run short you can come to me, you know I would help out.”

“Thanks Joe said Mary.”

“If I can get out to sea a couple of times before Christmas that will see me through until spring next year.”

“Well don’t you be taking anymore risks Joe do you hear me?

“Yes I hear you. “ I could get an engine for that boat I could cut my fishing time down by a few hours. “It would be quicker going out and getting back.”

“Well I think you may be in luck because I was talking to someone at the Scrap yard, a lad called Donald Carr he has an engine that you can convert and he has an old propeller that he will weld on for you as well. It came off a German Submarine that went aground off the coast.

“How much does he want for it?

“Give him £40 pounds and he will be more than happy Joe.

Look, I tell you what if you like I will pick it up for you in the morning and help you fix it to the boat.

“What about your work?

“Pay me a tenner and you have got me for the day.”

“Sounds fair; alright I will be down on the beach at nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”

I will have to turn her upside down so we can fix the propeller onto her but we can build a place on board for the engine. I have wood, tools, and screws of various sizes.

“Have you got bolts?

“No Pete; can you pick me some up from the scrap yard? “ Get me a few for spares as well.”

“Right I’m off; I will see you down there tomorrow.”

“Are you going already it’s only ten thirty?

“I told Alina to fill me a bath for eleven so I’m going now.”

“I have put your cake tin back in your haversack Joe and don’t forget to thank that girl for me.”

“I will said Joe as he waved goodbye.”

“When he got back the children were sleeping and Alina had had a bath too and was in her night gown. The tub was filled ready for him and she filled a pan with some cold water to add to the bath tub. The light from the fire shone through the night dress that Alina was wearing. She was naked underneath the night dress and Joe saw her body.

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