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Daisy Baxter
Fictional Character
The Hot War
POD: November, 1950
Appearance(s): Bombs Away;
Fallout
Posthumous reference in Armistice
Type of Appearance: POV
Nationality: United Kingdom
Date of Birth: 1923
Date of Death: 1952
Cause of Death: Crushed by plane wreckage
(World War III)
Occupation: Pub-owner
Spouse: Tom Baxter (d. 1945)

Daisy Baxter (1923-1952) was the owner of the Owl and Unicorn pub in Fakenham, United Kingdom. Her husband, Tom, had been killed in the closing days of World War II. Daisy managed to keep the pub going thanks in part to the U.S. Air Force and RAF base located in nearby Sculthorpe. She had no employees, and was solely responsible for day to day cleaning, stocking, and bartending.[1]

As the situation in Korea began deteriorating, the United States used atomic bombs in Manchuria on 23 January 1951.[2] Immediately after, all airmen, both British and American, were confined to base, which immediately dented her business. She was also painfully aware that Sculthorpe would make a tempting target for the Soviets, and that Fakenham would most likely be destroyed as well.[3] On the night of 1 February, the Soviets succeeded in dropping atomic bombs on nearby Norwich; Daisy witnessed the flash and the mushroom cloud. Aberdeen was also destroyed.[4]

A week after the ground war phase of World War III began, Daisy decided to see the destruction of Norwich for herself. She rode her bicycle one morning, eventually making it within nine miles of the city after passing abandoned hamlets and farmhouses.[5] As she approached Norwich, she was stopped by two soldiers, a captain and a soldier named Simpkins. When she gave the two with the impression she resided nearby, the captain ordered Simpkins to take Daisy to nearby Bawdeswell. During the drive, Daisy was able to get Simpkins' impression of what the center of Norwich looked like now. When they reached Bawdeswell, Daisy got on her bike and returned home.[6]

The war continued apace, with both sides using more atomic weapons through March, although the UK was spared. In April, the flyers returned to the Owl and Unicorn, which eased Daisy's financial woes. The Americans were particularly profligate spenders. During service to one such American, Bruce McNulty of San Francisco, who, unused to Britain's monetary system, effectively overpaid her. Despite her best efforts to give him his change, he waved her off. They spoke briefly about their respective lives; McNulty had served in World War II as well. She was astonished when McNulty didn't offer to date her as she expected.[7]

Mid-April saw the Soviets launch a series of bombing raids against British airfields, including Sculthorpe. The Soviets didn't use atomic weapons, but conventional explosives were certainly unnerving to Daisy and her neighbors.[8] Daisy learned that one American flyer was quite lucky: when a bomb hit his barracks, he was blown from his cot and out a window with nothing more than a cut to the cheek.[9] Daisy didn't give this incident much thought until Bruce McNulty came in with a bandage on his face. He confirmed that he'd been the lucky airman.[10] Daisy's relationship with McNulty progressed, but then abruptly stalled when she alluded to Wilf Davies, a neighbor who'd begun scavenging in the remains of Norwich. When she detected a hint of jealousy in McNulty's reaction, she came down on him very hard, briefly sending him away from the Owl and Unicorn.[11] Nonetheless, McNulty did return a few weeks later and apologized with flowers. Daisy accepted,[12] and the two began a romantic relationship.[13] Their romance blossomed even as the war raged around them.[14]

Unfortunately, their romance hit a substantial roadblock on 11 September 1951, when the Soviets finally dropped an atom bomb on Sculthorpe. The explosion there was large enough to level half the buildings in Fakenham. Daisy was able to get into the basement when the initial air raid sirens sounded, but as the bomb nearly destroyed the Owl and Unicorn, she had to flee her former home. She began helping other survivors.[15]

She soon developed radiation sickness, and was placed in a tent with seven other women from Sculthorpe and treated by the British Army. Her symptoms included nausea, weakness, and hair-loss. She lived on a diet of American rations. Happily, Bruce McNulty wasn't present for the attack on Sculthorpe. The knowledge that he survived, and that he would continue to visit her while she recovered, made her circumstances more bearable. [16]

Her health continued to improve as the year ran down.[17] As the weather got bad, she and other survivors well enough to travel were taken down to East Dereham, and placed in an abandoned school which was serving as a hospital.[18] Still, she found herself increasingly frustrated with being immobile.[19] Bruce McNulty still visited. Once, after receiving permission to go digging around in Fakenham, he was able to find a picture of Tom Baxter, and bring it to her.[20] By New Year's Eve 1951, Baxter was well enough that the hospital let her go out with McNulty, and, after night of dancing and socializing, the two took a private moment to allow their relationship to become physical.[21]

By February, Baxter was feeling well enough to move out on her own and take a room above a chemist's shop in Durham, owned by one Simon Perkins. Despite her circumstances, she remained quite happy in her relationship with McNulty, although the sexual part of it was carried out in locations other than her room.[22] Indeed, despite the incredibly dire circumstance of living on the dole, Baxter was very happy in this period. One major disappointment came when she learned that her insurance company had ruled the atomic bombing of Sculthorpe was an act of war and God, and therefore not covered by her policy.[23]

In May 1952, Baxter and McNulty headed out for a night on Watton, even though Soviet Beagles had launched a bombing raid over eastern England. After spending part of the night in a club, they left. After stopping on the way back to East Dereham to make love, McNulty went to relieve himself. Baxter watched an aerial dog fight between a Beagle and two British planes take place right above her. One plane, probably the Beagle, was destroyed. As she watched in horror, the wreckage from the plane flew towards her.[24] She was not able to get out of the way in time, and was crushed to death by the flaming wreckage. Her body was also badly burned. McNulty tried to save her, and was burned himself.[25]

Baxter was buried in a cemetery in Great Snoring. Aside from McNulty and Wilf Davies, few other people attended her funeral; most everyone she'd known had already been killed.[26]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Bombs Away, pgs. 41-42
  2. Ibid., pgs. 55-61.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 61-63.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 64-65.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 130-132.
  6. Ibid., pgs. 132-134.
  7. Ibid., pgs. 217-221.
  8. Ibid., pgs. 278-280.
  9. Ibid., pg. 281.
  10. Ibid., pgs. 281-282.
  11. Ibid., pgs. 344-348.
  12. Ibid., pgs. 415-419.
  13. Fallout, loc. 799-859.
  14. Ibid., loc. 1337-1401.
  15. Ibid., loc. 2428-2487.
  16. Ibid., loc. 2703-2762.
  17. Ibid., loc. 3860
  18. Ibid., loc. 3870.
  19. Ibid., loc. 3870-3883.
  20. Ibid., loc. 3897-3921.
  21. Ibid., loc. 4888-4950.
  22. Ibid., loc. 5300-5373.
  23. Ibid., loc. 6411-6479.
  24. Ibid., loc. 7041-7104
  25. Armistice, loc. 276, ebook.
  26. Ibid., loc. 276-336.

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