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Martin Brodrick, a quietly spoken but physically strong young university student whose main interests were sport and playing the piano, was enjoying a holiday with his best mate, Dave, on Dave’s family’s farm in tropical north Queensland, when he was devastated by the news of his father’s unexpected death.  

Graduating from his university course, he was plunged into uncertainty about his future, and convinced Dave to accompany him on a voyage to England as a contrast from study and, hopefully, relief from lingering grief. 

At sea, his immediate dining companion was a distinguished elderly American scientist whose professional career stretched from the famous wartime Manhattan Project to the present day. The old man’s amazing expertise had been in continuing demand which in turn provided him with access to and involvement in the most modern cutting edge and hence politically sensitive science. The combination of the old professor’s fascinating revelations and Martin’s attraction to his accompanying granddaughter diverted his attention from a simple European holiday to what became a compulsive and potentially dangerous international investigation. His new-found secret knowledge came to the attention of the national leaders of both the United States and Australia, as well as to unknown enemies who were determined to silence Martin at all costs.   

Martin’s obsession led him to the United States, Bermuda, South Africa and eventually back home to Australia where he was forced to defend himself using lethal force in the familiar bush he had grown to love.  

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ISBN: 978-1-920699-46-8
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 503
Genre: Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins

This book is a work of fiction.The author asserts his moral rights.

Cover Image used under licence from Shutterstock.com

Christian_b/shutterstock.com 

© Cover Design—Zeus Publications 2019 

Copyright @ peter.ferguson8@bigpond.com 2019


 


Author
- Peter Ferguson
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2019
Language: English


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About the author 

Born in Queensland, Australia, to a musical family, Peter’s schooling included a few years at an agricultural boarding school and Deakin University.  

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 passion. 

 

Dedicated to:

  

All who suffer from the perpetual and seemingly inevitable

clash of cultures, the source of most human conflict.

 

 

A FORTY-YEAR-OLD INTERNATIONAL MYSTERY INVOLVING A WORLD WAR II SECRET WHICH, WHEN REVEALED AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR, DEMANDED FINALITY.

 

PROLOGUE

  

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 all haste’.

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 be made’.

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 science’.

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 States.

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.

   

CHAPTER ONE

 

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 light.

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, bloody amazing!

Silence solved his dilemma.  

 

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