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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“Yes I think we shall have a good Christmas this year.”

“What would you all like this year for Christmas?

Joe asked for a cricket bat and ball and a blow football game.

Marina wanted some new clothes. Helen asked for a doll and a pram.”

“Oh a letter came for you today it’s on the sideboard.

Joe went over and took the letter opener and slid it along until the envelope was opened. Joe quickly read it then read it again.”

“What is it Joo is something wrong?

“No; quite the contrary Alina, I am to receive the George cross and the George medal for bravery.”

“How said little George?

“They are giving me George Cross for Dunkirk and the George medal for the school.”







Marina said my dad is a hero he saved me from a burning building along with other children and my teacher.

“Will you have more medals than Uncle George and Uncle Alan asked little George?

“I don’t know Son.”

“Wait until I tell all my friends at school dad.”

“Please don’t George.” people with find out soon enough.”

“Sometimes it is better to be a humble man George.

“What is humble mean dad?

“It means to be modest and not to go around boasting about what you have done.”


“Because people will then see you in a different light and think that you do things for reward.”

“Can we come and see you get your medals dad asked Marina.

“Yes if you want to.”

“Can Alina come too?

“Oh please dad, said George.”

“Alright then if Alina wants to come then she can.”

“I would not miss this for the world Joo.”

“It’s settled then we all go.”

“When is this great event?

“Two weeks from now at the Town Hall in Wallsend.

“Are you going to tell your brothers?

“No; whatever for

“Wouldn’t they not be proud to see their brother receiving such a great honour?”

“It might give them a couple of days off from the war too.”

“Yes; I see what you mean.”

“I will go now and tell our George; he will get a message to our Alan quicker than I.”

“Joe walked down to the corner of Mast Lane then opened the door of the telephone booth. He picked up the receiver then dialled the number.”

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