What is tetanus?

Tentanus is an acute infectious disease caused by spores of bacteria. These spores are found everywhere in the environment, particularly in soil, ash, intestinal tracts/feces of animals and humans, and on the surfaces of skin and rusty tools like nails, needles, barbed wire, etc. Being very resistant to heat and most antiseptics, the spores can survive for years.

Symptoms of tetanus

Tetanus is often called lockjaw due to one of its common symptoms being spasms of the jaw muscles. Other symptoms of tetanus include:

Symptoms of tetanus can appear anywhere from 3 to 21 days after exposure. The further the injury site is from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), the longer it will take to see symptoms in an infected person. The quicker the symptoms present after an injury, the higher the risk of death.

Tetanus can be prevented by vaccination with tetanus toxoid.

Painting by Sir Charles Bell, 1809, of a person suffering muscle spasms (specifically opisthotonos) due to tetanus. Picture from Wikipedia.

Famous people who have died from tetanus

John A. Roebling

John A. Roebling was a German-born and educated civil engineer who immigrated to the U.S.A. He is famous for his designs of rope-suspension bridges, including the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge over the Ohio River in Cincinnati, which is named after him. In 1867, while he was surveying the site for the Brookyn Bridge spanning the East River in New York, his foot was crushed by an arriving ferry. His injured toes were amputated, but he still developed tetanus, which killed him on July 22, 1869.

Joe Powell

Joe Powell was an English footballer and the captain of the Woolwich Arsenal in their first year of League football. During a match in 1896, he broke his arm, which had to be amputated. Despite the amputation, he contracted blood poisoning and tetanus which eventually killed him on November 29, 1896. He is one of the only footballers to die directly from an injury that occurred during a game.

George Montagu

George Montagu was a English army officer and famous naturalist who specialized in birds. He pioneered work on the Ornithological Dictionary which was the first document to catalogue Britain’s bird population. One day in 1815, he stepped on a rusty nail and died of tetanus shortly afterward. His collection of over 200 birds was donated to British museums.

Tetanus and While the Bombs Fell

When my mother was a very small girl growing up in the English town of Bungay during World War II, one of the young boys who lived in the town stepped on a piece of rusty corrugated iron while the children were playing in the river one afternoon. Derek contracted tetanus and, much to the shock of the children, died a horrible and painful death.

This is a short extract from While The Bombs Feel:

while the bombs fell“Unfortunately, Derek Mickleborough’s experience of standing on the piece of corrugated iron did not end that afternoon. The children had no way of knowing that the day spent at Sandy would be the last time any of them saw Derek alive. By the end of the following week, young Derek started experiencing mild spasms of his jaw, chest, neck, back, and stomach. Derek’s symptoms worsened over the following few weeks, and he became ill with fever and sweating. He also experienced stiffness in his neck and had violent muscle spasms. Within a month, Derek died of lockjaw or tetanus.

The children of the town, who learned of his horrible symptoms and spasms through overheard conversations amongst the adults, were shocked by his death.

His parents did not call the doctor for a home visit timeously as they did not have much spare money available and they were quite ignorant as to the symptoms of this deadly illness and its dire consequences.

It is unlikely that the doctor could have done much anyway as there were no antibiotics available in Suffolk at that time.”



TSL Publications



What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?

Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.

Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.

Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.


RobbiHello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:


Robbie Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle


Thank you for supporting this author and her tour.  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please drop in on this author’s 4WillsPub tour page
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2 responses to “Welcome to Day 5 of the “WHILE THE BOMBS FELL” Blog Tour! @bakeandwrite @4WillsPub #RRBC”

  1. That is a very scary thing! I am so glad we have a shot for that now.

    Thanks for hosting, Charles.

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