This is one of the most important scenes in the book and was, in fact, the very first scene I ever envisioned, before I even knew there would be a book. When I first discovered my grandfather's diary years ago, this was the entry I opened to and read. To say that it made an impression would be an understatement. When I found out later that his brother Clarence had been injured in an eerily similar accident (Clarence died in the '60s, so I hadn't known him and was only vaguely aware that I'd had a great uncle) it not only shed new light on the diary entry, but created a thematic resonance between the two events that eventually grew into Two Generals. The entire rest of the book is very much an extrapolation of this one scene.
Here is the diary entry that started it all (typed out to prevent you from having to decipher Law's handrwriting):
Left for London with Jack right after lunch. Stayed at King George and Queen Elizabeth officers club. Saw Bob Hope & Betty Hutton in “Let’s Face It”. Quite good. Got to know how to get around on the tubes. Had dinner at the Cumberland House, close to the Marble Arch by Hyde Park. On way home saw woman under a double decker bus – found out later she was killed."
The following entry, Saturday March 27th, describes what's probably a pretty standard day of sightseeing for tourists on their first trip to London: Hyde Park, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, London Bridge, Westminnster Abbey, 10 Downing Street. For the sake of drama, I've switched the days so that they stumble upon the tragic scene at the end of their weekend leave.
Nobody still living in my family could say for sure what had happened to Clarence, which is why I've been somewhat vague here about both the year and Clarence's age. One of my uncles said Clarence had been hit by a milk wagon. My father said it was a streetcar, as depicted here. I ended up going with the streetcar, because the idea that it's a public transit vehicle makes for a more clear connection to the woman under the bus, and because a bit of research demonstrated that the streetcars in Newmarket were new around the time Clarence would have been young (suggesting a young boy might have stepped onto the street without knowing they were there). I suppose I could have driven to Newmarket and spent some time digging around old newspapers on microfiche to be sure, though without knowing even the year of the accident, it would have been hard to know where to start. And I'm petty convinced it was a streetcar.
It does seem an odd coincidence that both Law and Clarence ended up in St. Thomas, Ontario. The mental hospital there explains Clarence's presence, but it was never clear whether Law located there so that Clarence would have family nearby, or whether the idea of putting Clarence in long-term care there came about because Law was already living there. It's one of the pieces of information that would have made Two Generals more complete, but seems to now be lost to time.
Unfortunately, I was also unable to find any visual reference whatsoever for the King George and Queen Elizabeth Officers Club, so on page 21 I've drawn a fairly generic-looking barracks-type room for them to be in. As I'm not specific in the book about where they stayed, I guess it works.