James Russells hard day.
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#1: James Russells hard day. Author: SquirrelLocation: St-Andrews or Dunfermline PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 6:06 pm
This is rather spur of the moment inspiration for me, so please forgive me if there is anything which is not historically accurate!

Dr Jem was sitting heavily at his desk at the hospital. They had just lost Mollie Anderson. The young girls fight had obviously proven too hard for her. He shook himself lightly as tears gathered in his eyes. It was silly getting upset for the death of one girl when thousands of young men were risking their lives daily to protect the country from the evil German men. Even last month they had thought that young Maynard was lost. He had had to support his wife and sister in law, all the while dealing with his own grief at the loss of his young colleague. How relieved and overjoyed he had felt when the news came that Jack was alive and reasonably well – but it had brought the realities of war home even further than they had been previously.

And now, with the loss of a young, 7 year old girl, his heart was breaking. It was not just her loss that bothered him – how on earth was he to break the news to her mother – a young widow with an infant of 2 on her hands. Had not the world brought enough grief into her life already, without depriving her of her only daughter. Her son would bring joy, but yet, that was not enough, not really.

He stood up, sighing, this one would be horrible, really nasty. He couldn’t wait for visiting time, or for anything else. The young mother had had to take her young son home, and wouldn’t be in. He would go and break the news to her – escorting her back to the hospital, if that was what she wanted.

The home wasn’t far from the hospital, but her place of work was even closer, and he knew that once she had her son settled off to sleep she would have gone to do what she could to keep food on the table. So he left the car behind as more bother than it was worth, and walked the short distance to her munitions factory.

A short walk it may have been, but not short enough. If life wasn’t hard enough, a young woman, spotting him through the crowds, ran up to him and stuck a large white feather in the lapel of his coat.

“Coward!” she yelled at him “too scared to fight for your country!” she sneered at him. He hurried on, hoping to deter her by paying no attention to her. It was not to be – she stepped up to him, and turning him around, forced him to remain where he was while she finished ranting at him. “Stupid big toff who can’t fight his own battles, so sends out those who are too young to fight – relying on them to win the war. Take yourself off and fight your own battles why don’t you!”

Suddenly, to his shock the woman broke down, and would have been off if he hadn’t put a restraining hand on her arm. “Come with me madam.” He told her. Taking her to a small room he knew would be free in the factory he gently began to ask her about her life. Soon it came out, she had had a telegram in the post, telling her about the death of her son – her only son, who had been but 14. The sadness she saw reflected in his face somehow touched her, and she let out one last appeal. “you will sign up, won’t you. You will stop other young lads joining up before they are older.”

Dr Jem didn’t say a word about his own young family, that vindicated nothing. He even forbore to mention that her young son would probably have signed up anyway. However, he told her about how deeply sorry he was, but that his profession as a doctor meant that he was needed at home – to keep everyone else healthy and well.

The young mother broke down in tears, and after informing the supervisors of her presence, James headed off in search of the other mother – the one he was here to bring such bad news to.

That interview was also highly emotional, and he ended up escorting her to the waiting room, where the former lady was already waiting. James was extremely surprised when the ladies suddenly recognised each other. “Jeannie!” “Helen!”

Jeannie explained that she was here because the good doctor had brought her the news that her little daughter had not survived the illness which had struck her down, and Helen told of the fate of her son.

Suddenly she looked at Dr Jem, and pulled the feather from his lapel. “I guess you have no right to be forced to wear that!” she told him. Suddenly he was rather pleased that he had forgotten all about it once she had got so upset. It meant far more for her to remove it.

He returned to his office, bemoaning the fact that his shift was to run for another 12 hours. They were short on staff, and he didn’t like to leave the hospital for long. The worst of it was that he wouldn’t get to see Madge, or his family until the next morning.

Time passed fairly swiftly, as the busy hospital life kept him going. Suddenly the air raid siren started, and the hospital staff did all they could to get their patients to safety, below the ground. This was almost a military procedure, it had to be, or they would never get done. Then, his thoughts with Madge, Jo, and all the other women folk he felt such a responsibility to, James Russell gathered his staff telling half of them to look after their patients, and the others to go to the ‘reserve’ shelter with him to await the first casualties coming in.

The rest of the night passed in a blur – it was a nightmare of people who were injured by the bombs. The worst of it for Dr Jem though was when he came to administer death certificates to 2 young women, and a little boy. He looked into the face of the first woman and recognised her as the lady who had given him the white feather earlier on. The second woman was, of course, the mother of young Mollie. His tears dripped on the sheet which covered them, as he said a quick prayer for their departed spirits. At least they were both safe from all harm now – and were with their beloved lost ones.

James decided he couldn’t care less how much more of his shift there was to go – he was going home, to Madge. He needed her now more than anything.

Last edited by Squirrel on Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:39 pm; edited 1 time in total

#2:  Author: LesleyLocation: Allhallows, Kent PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 6:22 pm
That was so sad.

Thank you Squirrel.

#3:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 6:59 pm
Very sad Crying or Very sad .

#4:  Author: MaryRLocation: Cheshire PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:33 pm
Oh, Squirrel, how that little tale comes full circle in such a poignant way.

But poor Jem. Crying or Very sad Seeing so much death, when as a doctor all he wants to do is relieve suffering. And then to be called a coward....

I'm not surprised he needs Madge.

Thank you.

#5:  Author: ElbeeLocation: Surrey PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:44 pm
That was very moving. Thanks Squirrel.

#6:  Author: Elder in OntarioLocation: Ontario, Canada PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:57 pm
Very poignant, very moving, but so, so, true to the sort of things which happened at the time, with so many young lives, and those of their parents lost to war, bombs or disease. But you also show us so clearly how hard it was for doctors like Jem to carry on, encountering so much death and disease, in the face of those who, not realising all that they did, would brand them as cowards for not joining the armed forces.

I should probably mention that my father was a family doctor in a mining community during World War II and thus classed as being in a 'reserve' occupation while his 3 brothers were all in the armed forces. He never encountered anyone who called him a coward, but I know he sometimes felt both guilty and frustrated about his situation, especially after one of his brothers was drowned off the French coast a couple of days after D-Day - and yet his own work was equally as vital as theirs.

Thanks, Squirrel.

#7:  Author: Liz KLocation: Bedfordshire PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:12 pm
Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! Crying or Very sad

Thanks Squirrel.

#8:  Author: RosalinLocation: Swansea PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:48 pm
Poor Jem. We're often hard on him here, but he did have a difficult and heartbreaking job.

The ending brought tears to my eyes, but at least the two families weren't parted for long.

Thanks Squirrel.

#9:  Author: brieLocation: Glasgow, aka the land of boredom PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:55 am
Thanks Squirrel

Crying or Very sad

#10:  Author: KarryLocation: Stoke on Trent PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 10:28 am
Elder wrote
thus classed as being in a 'reserve' occupation
My father was in "two" reserved occupations. When the war broke out he was a psychiatric nurse in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, then later, when the hospitl became a general one, he was then called up - but as he had previously been a miner, he was denied service in the armed forces and went back down the pit! As this was before the bevin boys scheme, he was even denied the recognition that they got. He too felt guilty that there were others from the village who died in combat - but it was equally dangerous down the pit, and necessaery to keep the war system rolling!

#11:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 1:19 pm
This is a side to Jem that we rarely see, thanks, Squirrrel.

#12:  Author: Fiona McLocation: Bendigo, Australia PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:03 am
Thanks Squirrel, that was so sad. I sometimes think Jem's hard work isn't always acknowledged and that was so believeable

#13:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:25 am
Perhaps we tend to concentrate on his dictatorial nature, and then again, we do laugh at EBD's medical knowledge or lack of it, so perhaps that influences us too much.

#14:  Author: leahbelleLocation: Kilmarnock PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:19 pm
Thanks, Squirrel. That was really moving and it was nice to see an alternate side to Jem than the one EBD constantly painted.

#15:  Author: Ruth BLocation: Oxford, UK PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:47 am
Gosh, that was so evocative! Thank you Squirrel.

Both my grandfather's were in reserved occupations. I never really knew them, so I don't know how they felt about it. I do know my maternal grandfather joined the home guard though. Maybe that helped him to feel he was "doing something"

#16:  Author: Laura VLocation: Czech Republic PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:50 pm
Wonderful but sad Crying or Very sad
Thank you

#17:  Author: HonorLocation: London PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 10:12 am
Thanks Squirrell. That was really beautiful if sad.

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