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


6. 6

Emily Rose woke with contractions at five o’clock she got up and her waters gave way.

“Joe she screamed as the pains got worse.”

Joe jumped up threw on a pair of trousers that fit him then told his wife that he wouldn’t be long. Joe put on his coat and cap then woke Marina and asked her to stay with her mother until he came back.

Joe went to the phone box and rang the emergency number for the doctor.

He waited whilst the operator connected his call.

After he waited there was a reply.

“Hello Doctor; it’s my wife, she’s gone into labour.”

Joe gave the doctor his wife’s name then the address.

When the doctor had all the details he said he would be with them in fifteen minutes.

“Thanks Doctor.”

Joe hung up then ran back to the house.

His wife was in distress and he tried to comfort her. She was screaming and Marina was getting upset so her father asked her to go outside and look to see if the doctor was there. Joe got up momentarily then put on the stove a large pan of water and got clean towels ready and a large tin bowl.

He then put more coal on the fire.

When Doctor John Fielding got to the house with his mid wife Dot Parker; Emily Rose had started to haemorrhage.

“Emily had never had any bother giving birth with her other two children. They had been born with in half an hour but this time she was in obvious distress.

Joe was asked to wait outside whilst the doctor and the midwife set to work. Doctor fielding pulled the bedding away which showed the extent of her bleeding. There was an awful loss of blood. The doctor took off his coat then rolled up his sleeves he quickly washed them in the bowl with soap then dried them with a towel he then took out his instruments and sterilised them in boiling water before giving Emily some ether to knock her out. Doctor fielding knew that time was against him but he carried on.

Using a scalpel he cut an incision into stomach then used some metal clamps to hold the incision open he then reached inside and found the babies head. Using another pair of clamps he put them around the babies head and then gently pulled down until the babies head popped out then he took the baby by its shoulders and slid the baby out and cut the umbilical chord then handed her to the midwife. The baby wasn’t breathing yet and the doctor was concerned for both the baby and the mother, who should he save.

Dot parker cleared the mucus from the baby’s face then using a thin piece of rubber tubing fed it through the nose of the baby and then gently blew some air into the baby’s lungs. At first nothing happened and then the baby cried.

Meanwhile the doctor removed the placenta and began to stitch up the abdominal area.


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