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Michael Darling

 The lost glove. SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2015 v9n2p0808

Helen Patience Uprichard was born on 26 August 1915 in Ireland and died on 08 August 1995 in Australia.

During the years she lived her country split and continued a civil war that started right after her birth and continued until after her death.

When Patience was born, and she was always known as Patience, Ireland was part of Great Britain and had been in a world war for a year. By the time she graduated from Queen's University Belfast and qualified as a physician in 1940, Great Britain was in another war. She immediately moved to Sheffield, where she steadily worked in surgery, in women's medicine, in children's medicine. She was given glowing references when she left for London in early 1944.

Patience started working in Paddington Hospital when unmanned bombs were falling on London, and shortly after arriving caught the eye of Michael Cecil Heathfield Dodgson, a graduate of St Thomas' Hospital medical school, son of Hannah Dalzell Piper, later Mrs Campbell Lindsay Smith, last Mrs Hubert Cecil Dodgson.

Patience told me she met Michael in the refectory. He had noticed that she did not use her sugar ration, left it untouched without stirring it into her tea. Paddington Hospital is on the other side of the river from St Thomas's Hospital, which can be reached by a brisk walk, and by passing Westminster. After St Thomas' was bombed more than once, its students and medical graduates were scattered, possibly Michael was working for a time in Paddington Hospital when he met Patience.

1944 was tumultuous for the children of the 4 Dalzell Piper sisters. In June 1944, Michael's cousin Maurice AP Wood landed on D-Day in Normandy. July 1944, another cousin Robert Dalzell Thomas, was killed in Italy. In August 1944, Michael's brother Tony Dodgson stopped 2 bullets in France, and permanently lost the use of his legs. Their only other male cousin, Geoffrey Thomas, was institutionalized throughout the war years, his life noted in a book published after Robert Dalzell Thomas died, and in a letter he sent to Michael in 1945.

The female cousins were all part of the war effort in England and abroad. Pauline Banks, I know little about, she may have been the sister with Type 1 diabetes. Dr Peggy Banks, also a physician, was in India with her husband John Hart and baby. Barbara Banks was in Egypt where she met her husband Gervase Markham. Josephine Banks was part of the war effort in England before she met her husband close to home in Norfolk, Basil Cook, green sustainable farmer long before anyone ever heard of the term. Their mother Kathleen was the eldest of my grandmother's sisters and was married to the rector of the Anglican church at Barnham Broom, which church came with a gorgeous house, that Josephine took me to visit in 1985. This was where the 4 sisters and their children spent summer holidays, and where Patience went for restful weekends when she could get away from Paddington Hospital.

So when Michael married Patience in January 1945, and was immediately shipped off to India, leaving her to work long hours in the hospital, and spend every free hour being cheerful and keeping his family together.

This letter was written 6 weeks after her wedding to Michael. In it, Patience is very upset at losing a glove, at a time when all clothing was rationed and Michael's aunts had already attacked Patience and demanded she repay debts of Michael's parents. She immediately agreed and started sending them part of her paycheck; after which they backed off and gave it back. They adored her. So did I.

Patience was not allowed to be upset at the war, which was still going on, or at her husband leaving after a week's honeymoon and leaving her pregnant, but she was allowed to be upset at a glove.

I believe Dr Halla understood all this. What a lovely man. A healer in every sense of the word.
On the Train.
March 17, 1945.

Michael Darling,

I am on the way to Hayward's Heath, but I am afraid I shall miss your mother as it is long after 4p.m. so I shall have to return to town to-night.

A very annoying thing happened this afternoon. I was running for a 4036 bus and jumped on and dropped one of my fur gloves. I got off at the next stop and went back only to find the glove had gone - more later.

March 18, 1945.

I finally arrived at Hayward's Heath at 5.30pm. Your mother had gone by that time, it was too late to get any connections to Mayfield so I stayed and chattered to Tony for about 1-1/2 hours and came back to London. I bought 1/2 dozen Penguin New Writing series which I will send.

I shall be sending you lots of little parcels now I have an address, let me know what arrives - I won't send too many things in one parcel.

By the way, if you see a pair of nice sandals size 4-1/2 please - Usually I take 4 but f they are too small I couldn't do anything about it, while if they were large, I could use in socks.

Last night, Surgeon Commander Halla treated me to two gins and the story of his life. I was sitting in front of the fire in the sitting-room being very cross at losing my glove, so he produced the gin on the spot to cheer me up. His wife plays the first violin in the BBC orchestra. He qualified in dentistry first and 10 years later qualified in medicine. Recently he took his FRCS in dentistry.

I forgot to tell you Tony was in excellent form - somehow I find him much easier to talk to when your mother isn't there - I really quite enjoyed my visit. I think he did too. My next week-end off I think I'll go to Barnham Broom so I'll have to see Tony Thursday of that week.

Please write lots of letters - I love getting them - I miss you very much,

All my love, Patience.