About the author
Born in Queensland, Australia, to a musical family,
Peter’s schooling included a few years at an agricultural boarding school and
He travelled to England by ship where he worked for a
year in London prior to joining the British Army.
After being commissioned into the Army Air Corps,
Peter served as an Infantry Platoon Commander in the UK and South America, then
as a helicopter pilot with service in the UK, Cyprus and in the British Army of
the Rhine, in Germany.
He eventually transferred home to the Australian Army
where he served as a pilot, staff officer, Regimental Commander and instructor.
Peter is a member of Conservation and Wildlife
Management (CWM Queensland). He is an accredited marksman who regularly hunts
feral animals in an attempt to protect endangered Australian native wildlife.
He plays piano, is a motoring enthusiast and enjoys
remote outback travel with like minded friends. WWII military history remains a
All who suffer from the perpetual and
clash of cultures, the source of most human
A FORTY-YEAR-OLD INTERNATIONAL MYSTERY
INVOLVING A WORLD WAR II SECRET WHICH, WHEN REVEALED AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR,
Dr Albert Einstein announced his special theory of
relativity, E= mc2, in 1905. He concluded that, if splitting an atom
could be arranged and controlled, the resultant chain reaction might produce the
greatest man-made explosion yet.
During the Second World War, the eminent doctor wrote
to the President of the United States, Mr Roosevelt, highlighting reports of
Nazi research into methods of separating and stabilising a necessary critical
mass of uranium 235. He believed the Nazis were also seriously investigating the
shaping, compressing and triggering of such material once separated from uranium
238. Success could lead to the production of an atomic bomb.
In February 1940, the United States government
allocated six thousand dollars, the first of many billions of dollars, for the
commencement of atomic research.
In Japan, two months later, Lieutenant General Yasuda
instigated a study to assess Japan’s likely nuclear fission potential. In
October 1940, it was concluded that Japan did indeed have access to sufficient
uranium ore to produce a so-called atomic bomb. So in April 1941, the Imperial
Japanese Army directed the Nishina laboratory to: ‘Produce an atomic bomb with
By 1941, Germany controlled uranium deposits
throughout Europe and had access to vital installations including the Vemork
hydrogen electrolysis plant in Norway.
German research had advanced to the point where
calculations relating to fast neutron chain reactions and the critical mass of
uranium 235 could be achieved. Fortunately for the Second World War allies, many
leading German Jewish scientists, who may otherwise have enabled Germany to win
the race for production of an atomic bomb, were forced into exile.
In Washington during September 1941, senior members
of the National Academy of Science, the University of California and Harvard
University, met to discuss various British developments towards the production
of an atomic bomb.
They assessed the discovery made recently on the
Californian cyclotron, that plutonium held the same fission characteristics as
uranium 235. Consequently, they strove to avoid the previously insurmountable
isotope separation to produce uranium 235 and increased plutonium research.
On December 6, 1941, the American President directed
that his scientists were to: ‘put all possible effort into experiments which
would show how Uranium 235 could be separated out and how an atomic bomb might
The very next day Japanese planes attacked US naval
forces in Pearl Harbour.
Reichsminister Speer met many of Germany’s chief
scientists on June 4, 1942, where it was concluded that a German atomic bomb was
theoretically possible within two years, if given full financial support.
Speer reported the conclusion to Hitler in June 1943.
Hitler, fortunately for the Allies, indicated both
his disinterest in long-range projects and his suspicion regarding this ‘Jewish
On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi, working in the
Chicago laboratory, achieved for the first time the release, control and then
cessation of the release of atomic power. Shortly after this momentous event,
the famous ‘Y’ site was established in the desert at Los Alamos in the United
States. This site was one of the many incorporated into the once wholly and
still partially ‘ultra secret’ Manhattan Project. Scientists and engineers from
throughout the United States and elsewhere, once sworn to secrecy, began work in
the atomic race under Professor Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves.
By early 1943 the United States intelligence
community had penetrated the major Japanese operational codes, so rumours of
atomic research success in Japan could be largely discounted.
However, Germany’s success remained unknown, so
efforts to produce a viable atomic bomb first were undertaken with German
targets in mind.
President Roosevelt had been warned that a scientist
involved with the Vemork ‘heavy water’ project, Niels Bohr, was conducting
experiments dangerously like atomic projects being undertaken in the United
Even after the Manhattan Project’s experimental
nuclear reactor had gone critical, the point where it had become
self-sustaining, many American scientists were convinced that their German
counterparts were well ahead of them.
Following Germany’s public disclosure, in late 1943,
that it possessed a ‘new and secret weapon of unimaginable power’, the ALSOS
Mission was formed.
Its purpose was to follow the Allied invasion of
Europe the next year to establish clearly, the state of German nuclear research,
as German-occupied territory was liberated. ALSOS personnel, deployed to Italy
at the end of 1943, included scientists on loan from the Manhattan Project.
Dr Reginald Ward was one such man. He was a brilliant
physicist who was privy to the most important secrets of his time.
In January 1946, the very first resolution of the
post-war General Assembly of the new United Nations resulted in the formation of
the Atomic Energy Commission. The Commission’s mandate was to develop an atomic
energy control regime and to limit its use to peaceful purposes. Accounts of the
emphasis placed by the major protagonists of that era, the Soviet Union and the
United States, differ and practical agreement remained elusive. However, a
prominent scientist from the Manhattan Project, Australia’s (Sir) Mark Oliphant,
argued for atomic disarmament and seeking influential allies, discussed this
proposition with Professor Oppenheimer, by then an adviser to the United
Nations. During their secret discussions, Professor Oppenheimer stated
confidentially, probably in a moment of unguarded candour, that at that moment,
1948, ‘there were only three subject bombs in existence’. He refused, or perhaps
was unable, to specify the exact location of each.
Reginald Ward, by late 1982 was a retired professor
and he, his wife, granddaughter and a former student, now a distinguished
university colleague of the older man, and his wife, flew to Sydney, Australia,
to join a cruise ship.
It was during the continuation of the voyage to
Europe that Professor Ward felt compelled, finally, to share a serious lingering
wartime concern. A young Australian passenger, Martin Brodrick, was,
surprisingly, destined to become the professor’s confidante.
Shortly after divulging his long-kept intriguing and
worrying secret, the old man died. The details of his concerns were preserved at
the eleventh hour, but it was touch and go.
The old leathery-skinned shooter could see the
pristine dingo bitch surprisingly clearly as she moved occasionally and
economically to keep him in view between the scrub trees. It was mid-afternoon
on an Australian winter’s day. The rains had gone, so the healthy bluish-leafed
bush trees were replenished to survive another testing drought.
The dingo was also primed for survival and her
luscious coat caught the sun as she adjusted her position on the low rise.
Despite her coat blending magnificently with clumps of blond coarse grass, the
watery, squinting eyes shaded beneath a sweat-stained, broad-brimmed bush hat
knew exactly where she was.
For the shooter, movement was almost everything.
The well-maintained rifle nestling in his lap was
accurate for him out to three hundred metres, but it seemed the bitch knew this
and could judge such distances well. For months, this critical distance seemed
to separate the special two, like orbiting planets.
The man was physically uncomfortable despite a
lifetime on horses. He was facing backwards!
There was no chance of this dingo encroaching into
the critical shooting distance that day as the horse ambled towards the river,
where sweet water attracted many of the cattle station’s cattle and wildlife. An
hour would see long shadows engulf the countryside snuffing out the shooting
The old bushman also knew that to a dingo brain, a
hated man, even on a horse, could only see in the direction he was moving. This
was one small advantage mighty man had over this instinctive animal, which had
thrived in the Australian bush forever.
The rider became aware of another intruder into this
ancient landscape as he lost contact with his prime quarry. A strapping young
fella in flimsy city running gear of all things, just stood still a few hundred
yards ahead on the rough track. He was a good way from the homestead, a real
turn-up for the books.
The rider pondered reasons for someone
being out here, alone and on foot, dressed as no bushman worth his salt would
be. He concluded that the younger man was tall and athletic, well before he was
within hailing distance. Probably worth a few bucks at the travelling boxing
show, was a fleeting thought within the old, astute brain.
Eventually, a gentle touch with a dusty riding boot
on the tough horse’s foreleg brought the animal up. An unhurried ‘G’day!’ was
all that came from the shaded, brown-creased face.
‘How are you going?’ responded the younger man and
intruder into the bush.
‘Been stalking that bitch for a while,’ was the
unhurried reply, as he motioned with a slight lifting of the rifle towards the
low hill. ‘I’ll get her, but not today. She’s one smart bastard.’
He turned towards the stranger revealing his
caricature of a face. ‘She watches me and I watch her, she thinks I can’t see
her as I ride away,’ he continued. ‘Out of range now.’
With that he slid off his horse with a practiced
action, stiffly unwound to his full but average height, then extended his left
hand and said, ‘Happy as.’
The younger man instinctively reached out to shake
the proffered hand which he shook awkwardly, a good left to a good right one.
The old man had no right hand at all and his arm ended in a callused stump,
evidence it had not escaped tasks demanded by the rest of his unforgiving body.
His clear, pale eyes exuded satisfaction, a sort of calm confidence. Easy
confidence also oozed from his stance, his general manner even, as he propped
his rifle between his leg and his damaged arm.
‘New around here?’ came next.
‘Yep. Staying a week or so with the Frasers. My
name’s Martin,’ he responded, still surprised at meeting anyone out here without
his host, the station owner mentioning the possibility.
‘Nice watch,’ commented the old man, who then
mechanically unloaded then slid the rifle into its soft leather saddle bucket,
looped the reins over his stump then ambled off with a stiff bushman’s gate,
temporarily distracted from the discomfort of walking far in his elastic-sided,
high-heeled riding boots.
‘Happy as what?’ quizzed a bewildered Martin.
‘Name’s Larry, happy as Larry,’ was the response as
though Martin was mentally slow, then, after a long pause and surprisingly
forthrightly, he demanded: ‘What’s your story?’
Martin considered the possibly flippant question, or
just quaint greeting seriously. He strove to generate an appropriate answer
while not wishing to be dismissive, yet wondered if the question was really
serious. There was just no way he could simply summarise even some of the recent
life-changing events which resulted in him being where he was.
Even to Martin, those recent experiences were, well,
Silence solved his dilemma.