For gallantry

From: Penelope Fitzgerald – a Life (2013) by Hermione Lee:

(Desmond Fitzgerald) passed the Bar exams and was called to the Bar as a criminal barrister at the Chambers at 5 King’s Bench Walk, in the Middle Temple. As for all young barristers, it was up to the Clerk of the Chambers which cases were sent his way. Desmond was doing only minor, jobbing criminal cases.

In January 1945, he was mentioned for ‘gallantry’ in the Italian action, and awarded the Defence Medal for his service in North Africa and Italy. He was a hero: but he had been profoundly changed by the war, and, though not physically wounded, came back a different person from the dashing young officer Penelope had married in 1942. He had seen appalling things and lost many men; he had killed a large number of people. He would wake up in the night, screaming. He could never bear fireworks.

…He was drinking, more than he had before the war. The same was true of Eamon, and Rawle Knox, and of a great many other young men who had survived fighting or imprisonment.

They wanted to have a baby. But between 1944 and 1946 Penelope had at least one miscarriage, and a ‘blue’ baby…died soon after birth…

In April 1946 the Fitzgeralds went to Paris for ten days…the Fitzgeralds would from now on be great travellers. This, Paris in post-war springtime, was their real honeymoon. She became pregnant again, and this time the baby hung on.”

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