On Either Side – Jon Halfhide
Action, sadness, hope and a sensual romance between an SS Officer and a British nurse.
“I was moved beyond words reading this book, which was written so well.” – Bella
On Either Side is essentially a love story set during World War 2 between young German SS Officer, Karl Wulf, and English nurse Brenda King. The couple meet late in the book when Karl is wounded at the Battle for Caen and brought to a British Field Hospital on the outskirts of the city.
The haunted mind of a brave, young German patriot; the treachery and bitter betrayal of the Third Reich, soothed by the arms of a forbidden affair.
On Either Side explores the Holocaust, the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane, the German occupation of Paris, Coco Chanel’s relationship with the Third Reich and British Queen Alexandra nurses posted to Normandy after the D Day landings.
“It shows that among all the inhumanity that was Nazi Germany some Germans had the strength and bravery to reject the “final solution” and do what they could to resist. I highly recommend this book. It is a moving story about standing up for your beliefs no matter what the personal cost.” – Seraphim0731
About the Author
Jon Halfhide was born in Brentwood, Essex UK in 1961 and now lives in Somerset.
His mother served in The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps during WW2, initially in India, close to the border with Burma, and latterly in Japan where she nursed British POW’s after liberation. Jon believes QA’s to be the quiet heroines of WW2 and so seeks to highlight their courage and altruistic dedication to the brave wounded ‘on either side’.
“Jon Halfhide has intricately woven together the images to bring these characters to life in an absolutely breathtaking way.” – Erin
Karl was back on his feet within a week, sore and weak but able to get out of bed. He’d been moved out of intensive care to a guarded corner of a recovery ward, segregated for enemy patients, which he shared with a few of his compatriots, all of lower rank and whom were suddenly put on their best behaviour by this senior officer from the SS. Brenda yearned to stay by his bed-side but duty called and she daren’t show any affinity for the forbidden fruit she longed to taste, that sumptuous perfidy to conscience. And it would be foolish, even naively obsessive to show her hand and even hint at her growing feelings towards him, a man who had been fighting on the opposite side and whose country was responsible for this bloody war. So she’d carried on with Eve as normal, dutiful but somewhat scatty with her work as only Karl occupied her mind, monopolised her thinking like those who succumb to a mirage of dreams. She stole every moment she could to be with him, her waking and sleeping electrified by skittish excitement and heart-felt affection for him. She knew she was whizzing down that unstoppable slide into the mysterious softness and safety of fidelity and passion, and she did so with a shriek of delight. Brenda was cautious with her heart but she knew he felt the same way towards her. It was in his smile and in those beautiful eyes, they spoke to her as no untruthful lips could; they told no lies. She stole moments as she could to be with him, here and there “no-one-must-see” instants during her busy duty, a sweet sigh in her day just to catch a glimpse of his smile or a sparkle from those kind, sapphire eyes.
Then the day came quite out of the blue. Sometimes the heart can squeal with delight, it did for Brenda when he kissed her, a warm loving embrace she’d longed for, a moment of sweet, sumptuous, selfish self-indulgence. She was acting as a crutch helping him walk to the toilet when he suddenly spun her around and pinned her against the wall. No struggle from Brenda, no resistance or protest to the compliant limpness that failed her limbs. He’d towered over her when his lips met hers and smelt her sweet breath, not a lusty embrace, a gentle rare instant when no one was around, a mesmerising moment her heart had yearned for so completely. And Karl felt the same; he was falling head over heels in love with this tiny English rose who had nursed him back to health so tenderly. He had seen the ugliest faces of war, both in battle and at the death camp, but somehow found a sanctuary in her loving gentleness, a woman’s power and sorcery that exorcised those malignant memories when he was with her. And their affection for each other hadn’t gone unnoticed, especially by Eve.
They were having breakfast one morning in the clattering, hectic Mess, sat inside a clandestine bubble of girl’s chat and whispers, when Eve broached the subject. ‘I’ve noticed how fond you seem of that German. Do you think that’s a good idea under the circumstances?’
‘No, it’s not a good idea but I think I’ve fallen in love with him,’ Brenda replied matter-of-factly.
Eve smiled warmly. She would be supportive when others might not. ‘You realise that when he’s strong enough he’ll be taken away to a prison camp. You may never see him again.’
‘I’m sorry, Eve,’ replied Brenda, slightly irritated and protesting that her secret was exposed. ‘I can’t help my feelings. I didn’t want this to happen but it has.’
Brenda was almost ready to burst into tears, ashamed by her covert treachery, so Eve proceeded more cautiously. ‘Does he feel the same way about you?’
‘Yes, he says he does…God I hope he does.’
‘How will you keep in touch when he leaves?’ asked Eve.
‘We’ll write to each other until the war’s over.’
Eve lowered her voice to a tiny whisper. ‘I’m not sure they’ll allow that. The C.O., Major Jones, has noticed you two together and has asked me questions.’
‘What have you told him?’
‘That you’re only doing your job, what you’ve been trained to do. But I’m sure he’s suspicious. I’m sure he’ll check all your mail once your handsome German has gone. He won’t give you any letters unless he recognises the handwriting and post mark. He has to do this in case you’re spying and writing in code to each other.’
‘Yes, I hadn’t thought of that. How do you know so much about it?’
‘I don’t, not really, but I do know letters are subjected to both civil and military censorship and I have been in the C.O’s office and seen him opening letters which certainly weren’t his.’ Eve’s eyes lit up, an idea sparked. ‘Get him to write to me and call himself Joe.’
‘Joe? Wasn’t that the name of your boyfriend who was killed in Holland last year?’ asked Brenda, remembering comforting her distraught friend when she received the awful news, a wrecked psyche re-floated by her gentle solace.
Eve sighed ruefully, uncharacteristic of her these days. ‘Yes, Joe Taylor. We were planning to get married on his next leave to England.’
And so it was decided that this would be the best way for Karl and Brenda to keep in touch, as it was highly unlikely that Eve’s mail would be tampered with once he was taken away from hospital as a prisoner of war. But unforeseen events would unfold to negate the necessity of parts of this procedure as Karl was soon to chance upon a nugget of luck, a debt owed from days gone by.
“A different kind of HEA… Among other things, this book is about paths taken and paths not taken and the sorrow that can follow for the rest of one’s life depending upon the choices made.” – Fellings