When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in South Africa’s brutal Robben Prison, he tirelessly turned to the poem Invicitus. The inspirational verse was by the Victorian William Ernest Henley, penned on the occasion of the amputation of his leg. Still I Rise takes its title from a work by Maya Angelou and it resonates with the same spirit of an unconquerable soul, a woman who is captain of her fate. Just as Invicitus brought solace to generations so does the contemporary classic. It embodies the strength of character of the women profiled. Each chapter will outline the fall and rise of great ladies who smashed all obstacles, rather than let all obstacles smash them. The book offers hope to those undergoing their own Sisyphean struggles. The intrepid women are the antithesis of the traditional damsels in distress; rather than waiting for the prince they took salvation into their own hands.
Women celebrated in the book include Madame C. J. Walker-first female American millionaire, Aung San Suu Kyi-Burma’s first lady of freedom, Betty Shabazz-civil rights activist, Nellie Sachs-Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize recipient, Selma Lagerlof-first woman Nobel Laureate, Fannie Lou Hamer-American voting rights activist, Bessie Coleman-first African-American female pilot, Wilma Randolph-first woman to win three gold medals, Sonia Sotomayor-first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, Wangari Maathai-Nobel Prize winner, Winnifred Mandela-freedom fighter, Lois Wilson-founder of Al-Anon, Roxanne Quimby-co-founder of Burt’s Bees.
From the Book:
"Still I Rise
Maya Angelou, 1928 - 2014
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
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Daring to lift her eyes, she glanced around. The kinder amongst those twelve good men would describe her glance as furtive, the less kind would say shifty. Had she been asked she would have said fearful; but no one did enquire. The judge asked his question a second time; this time with impatience.
‘Have you anything to say on your behalf?’
What should she say to a judge? It was beyond her experience, so she replied with the only words she could conjure.
‘Please sir, I am a housemaid and my family don’t know where I am.’
She shivered uncontrollably, although the afternoon warmth made her stained, woollen dress stick damply to her skin. The huge courtroom overawed her. It was a room bigger and grander than she had ever seen or imagined was possible. The jury to her right stared intently at her, but she avoided their stare as she would avoid the look of any man. Instead, she hung her head and stared unseeing at her tight, entwined hands, making her look both sullen and guilty. It was of no consequence to them that she was young and pretty for she was just another girl down on her luck. There were a thousand others, no ten thousand, others like her. Something must be done about it.
Nora felt unrehearsed for these legal proceedings. She had no money for a lawyer and found this whole experience terrifying. The stern appearance of the judge, in his scarlet robes and long horsehair wig, made her want to crawl into a hole somewhere. But here in this large courtroom, there was nowhere to hide, nowhere to escape. She was the main exhibit.
The horrors of the morning still tormented her. Chained to other prisoners at the ankle, she shuffled from Millbank to the Old Bailey. The journey took a good hour, as they tried to avoid the rotting fruit thrown by ragamuffins, gleeful that there were some worse off than themselves. The shame of it sickened her. She felt tired and sore where the iron had bruised her ankle and. longing for home and her sisters to comfort her, Nora’s mind began to wander again.
But now the judge was speaking and she forced herself to try and take in what he was saying.
‘Eleanora Nolan, you have been found guilty of grand larceny and will be transported beyond the seas for the term of seven years. Next case.’
A smirk of triumph appeared on Mrs Pocket’s face, satisfaction on the constable’s and boredom on the judge’s. Nora listened to the judge but without understanding because the words made no sense to her.
‘Please sir’ she tried again ‘when may I go back to my family?’
‘Take her down,’ was the terse instruction and the court official hastened to comply.
Bruno runs to the platform between the train cars chasing Jack and smashes him across his face with the big pistol. Jack falls back against the rail separating the cars and slumps to the steel floor. The train lurches and Bruno stumbles backward against the door trying to keep his balance. He grabs the door to steady himself and charges back toward Jack. The train slows and then speeds up as it crests a hill. Bruno stumbles on the uneven steel plates of the platform. He is off balance again and comes toward Jack with his head down and his arms outstretched to catch his fall. Jack pulls his knees to his chest, his feet catch Bruno in the stomach. Using Bruno’s own momentum, Jack pushes his legs up and vaults Bruno’s helpless bulk over the rail. The scream abruptly stops as he plummets under the thundering steel wheels.
Maddy bursts through the door and helps Jack to his feet.
“I was sure he was going to shoot you Jack, he seemed to go over the railing in slow motion and then get sucked under the train. That was awful but I could not take my eyes away.”
Jack puts his arms around Maddy and hugs her to him tightly. “It’s ok now baby, we need to think about getting off this thing before we get to the next station. We can’t be far from the border now. We’re coming into another turn let me see if I can see what’s up ahead.”
As the train goes around the turn, Jack can see past the line of cars.
“We are going up another hill with a turn at the top of it. The train will be going pretty slow as it makes the turn. It looks like a hay field on the outside of the turn. That should make for a pretty soft landing. Make sure you clear the road bed.”
Maddy looks down as the countryside flashes by at what seems to her to be an impossible speed. She looks back at Jack with her eyes wide. “What, Jack? Do you think I am going to jump from this train?”
“We’re gonna have to jump off this thing. Don’t think about it, just jump when I tell you. Let’s go, Maddy. Roll when you hit the ground. Come on, get ready it’s slowing down. Jump!”
For over half a century, NASA has delivered a continuous stream of innovative accomplishments that have inspired the world. Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, the space shuttle pioneering reusable space planes, Mars rovers exploring the red planet--the list goes on. We read the stories and watch the footage, and as impossible as these achievements seem, NASA makes them look easy.
The most innovative organization in history, NASA holds an otherworldly mystique for those of us who look on in awe. But behind every one of NASA's amazing innovations lie carefully managed operations, just like any other organization.
Innovation the NASA Way provides practical, proven lessons that will help you envision the future of your organization with clarity, meet every challenge with tenacity, and manage innovation with groundbreaking creativity.
NASA insider Rod Pyle has used the agency's unique methods for driving innovation to train leaders from eBay, the Federal Reserve, Michelin tires, Conoco/Phillips, and many other Fortune 100 and 500 companies. now, for the first time, NASA's cutting-edge strategies for nurturing and fostering innovation are revealed.
Innovation the NASA Way takes you on a tour through the programs that pushed the envelope on the agency's leadership and managerial capacity. It describes the seemingly impossible tasks NASA personnel faced, explains how each challenge was met with forward-looking management methods, and describes the extraordinary innovations that resulted.
Learn how NASA built the Lunar Module, the first true spaceship; created the Saturn V's F-1 rocket motor, the most powerful ever built; and how it creates partnerships with the new players in space–private entrepreneurs. These are just a few of the projects covered in the book.
Space exploration may be NASA's mission, but its innovative leadership practices are founded on solid, down-to-earth methods anyone can apply, anywhere.
PRAISE FOR INNOVATION THE NASA WAY:
"Pyle insightfully and skillfully draws out the methods and strategies naSa has employed to achieve its lofty goals. It innovates so far outside the box that the box disappears. Pyle suggests its touchstones are boldness, daring, and passion, and he suggests you can bring those traits into your business." -- DON CAMBOU, executive Producer of History Channel's Modern Marvels
"Pyle highlights NASA's key innovation lessons and leaves you with amazing stories you'll want to remember and use in your organization." -- STEVEN FENTRESS, Planetarium Director at Rochester Museum & Science Center
"From building rocket engines to exploring Mars and beyond, Rod Pyle has written a very readable and eminently practical volume that documents the challenges, solutions, and lessons learned from NASA's storied history. To read it is to be inspired to recreate in today's challenging world NASA's daring, boldness and passion." -- STEVEN J. DICK, Former NASA Chief historian
"Fuel your inspiration with this fascinating book explaining the key lessons of NASA's innovation and exploration of space. Pyle's meaingful insights will improve your business." -- LUKAS VIGLIETTI, President, Swissapollo, Swiss Space Association
John Arnold and Lily Smoot sat on a bench in the Santa Fe Plaza early that evening....
He looked at her in the dim light. “What are you doing running around with guys like Cummings and Damours, Lily?”
“Cummings is a U.S. Marshal, John. And I wasn’t running around with Damours. We were chasing him. What’s your point?”
“Cummings is not much of a Marshal and you know it, Lil. Is it true you worked in the Nevada brothels?”
She looked up at his face. Clearly his feelings had been hurt.
“Yes, John. When I left Utah, I looked into all the political and military and business management jobs open to teenage girls, but they were all filled. I didn’t meet any guys like you who were single and sitting around that I could safely live off, so I got a job where I could save some money.”
She looked closely and caught his scowl. “John, you're married, and unless you’re offering to adopt me or to start taking care of me, I have to look out for myself. And for my ranch.”
He looked down at her. For the first time ever, he hugged her. “I’m sorry, Lil. You’re right. It might not be appropriate, but I care about you and want to see you succeed.”
She stood up. Bent down to him and kissed him gently.
“Appropriate,” she said, “Is overrated.”
June 15, 1865
Lily sat on her horse looking intently south, up the valley. The mountains blocking their path to the west, endless prairies as far as the eye could see behind them. They had joined a large wagon train at Fort Laramie and were into their second day on the Oregon Trail. The train was turning right, headed to the north, away from the valley and toward the mountain passes discovered by the mountain men decades before.
“What’s this valley called?” Lily asked the scout riding alongside.
“Doesn’t have a name I know of, ma’am. Maybe Chugwater? I’ve heard some call it that after Chugwater Creek way up the valley,” pointing to the south and east of where they sat.
“How far to Denver City from here?”
“Denver City’s about due south of here, ma’am. If you were a bird, you could fly there in a little less than two hundred miles.”
“Thanks. And the name’s Lily, not ma’am. Lily Smoot.”
She trotted over to the wagon. Gus was driving. John swaying up and down in a Cheyenne cradleboard on his back. Lincoln was riding alongside. As in the previous train, he had taken the job of getting children up and down the back of the wagon to ride with Auggy the bear.
“This is it, Gus,” she said.
“Look all around. This is the valley Iliff told us about. The greatest ranchland ever.”
The two men looked around at the gentle hills to the base of the mountains, the trees green in the few creek beds to the south of them. A sea of ravines hidden among the hills all the way to the looming mountains in the western distance.
“Must be quite a sight when it’s covered with buffalo,” Lincoln said.
“It’d be an even better sight covered with our cattle,” Gus said.
“Iliff told us we wouldn’t last a week up here,” Lincoln said. “The Cheyenne and Sioux aren't even crazy about the wagon trains headed west through here, but they’ve agreed to give them free passage as long as nobody stays.”
As if on cue, two of the scouts trotted over.
“Gus,” one of them said. “Craziest thing. There’s a group of Indians approached us from the west when we made the turn to the north. The scouts said they came in peace. They asked if we had a wagon with a big black bear on it.”
Lily looked out to the west. Toward the magnificence of the mountains. And Mount Laramie towering over all. On a hill above the pattern of threaded ravines, about two miles away, she could just make out a small group that looked to be two of the wagon train’s scouts with three Indians.
“What’d you tell them?” Gus asked.
“I said we’d go look and see.”
“You got anybody who’ll drive our wagon for a while?” Gus asked.
“Sure. You going out to see what they want.”
“We know what they want,” Lily said.
It was late winter in 1935, when the young Jewish girl gave birth to her baby girl, in the German town of Kitzigen. The child’s father, a soldier who decided that being the father of a Jewish child would not help his progression through the ranks of Hitler’s army, deserted her. Her family was not critical of her; instead, they showed understanding and supported her through the pregnancy. She named the child, Ruth. Ruth’s grandfather ran a successful civil engineering company that dealt with the British manufacturer, Sir William Bromfield. Sir William spent most of his time visiting German enterprises that dealt with his engineering supply companies. Their business relationship had developed into a genuine friendship.
For Jews, life became unbearable in Germany as it became the practice for any senior German Officer to just take whatever Jewish belongings they wanted. The ‘brownshirts’ were even worse. Claiming to be patriots, they were nothing but organised hooligans and thugs with no respect for human life or belongings, especially if Jewish. The government followed Hitler’s ranting that all of Germany’s troubles had been brought about by the Jews and now, payback time!
When they seized Ruth’s grandfather’s house, the family had nowhere to live so he moved them to nearby Frankfurt, some 130 kilometres away. Their British friend, Sir William, helped them as he seemed to have influence because he found rooms for them in Frankfurt. Ruth’s mother never knew what he did for a living, but Sir William travelled a lot, and she overheard him and her father mentioning his brother in England. His brother was a Church of England minister in a country town about three hours north of London.
By early 1938 the situation became unbearable for the Jewish community. Besides the constant harassment and beatings, many were arrested and thrown into prison for not showing allegiance to the Nazi party. Also, it was now impossible for them to leave Germany. Ruth’s grandfather suffered many beatings, and her grandmother became a nervous wreck. They had not been able to go to a synagogue for over six months, and the grandfather feared for Ruth and her mother.
One day a fight developed just outside the building they lived in, and the police arrested Ruth’s grandfather. Shortly after his release from the police, the Gestapo came and arrested him, and they never saw him again. Ruth’s grandmother pleaded with Sir William to help. He tried to find some information, but as he began to attract attention to himself, he stopped his inquiries. Realising that she would never be with her husband and unable to bear the pain, Ruth’s grandmother climbed to the top of the five-storey building and jumped.
Ruth’s mother was distraught. She had now lost both parents whom she loved, and she held fears for Ruth’s safety. She contacted William and pleaded for help and advice. He told her about the ‘Kinder transport’ movement being set up by the Jewish and Quaker communities in England, which rescued Jewish children.
The laws had been changed to allow unaccompanied Jewish children to enter England, provided they had a sponsor who would care for them. If Ruth’s mother surrendered Ruth, it would mean she would see Ruth again until after the war. After several excruciating days, she asked Sir William to find out what arrangements he could make.
Sir William took only two days before he returned with an answer. His brother, John Bromfield, would accept the responsibility for raising Ruth until they were reunited after the war.
Although a minister in the Church of England, John Bromfield promised that Ruth would learn about the Jewish faith during her upbringing. If she accepted the offer, John would meet them at Frankfurt railway station the following Friday. He would not be allowed to leave the train, and she would have to place Ruth on the steps of the train where John would take her. John should be able to talk to her through the window before the train left for Holland and the channel crossing. She agreed to this arrangement.
However, this arrangement tormented her over the next few days. What if she never saw Ruth again? Is it best she should be brought up by strangers than risk the horrors the Nazi regime seemed to pose?
Ruth’s mother was troubled further by a big question. How did William arrange everything so fast? William told her that when he was in England last, his brother told him that
“On 15 November 1938, five days after the devastation of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in Germany and Austria, a delegation of British Jewish and Quaker leaders appealed in person to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain. Among other measures, they requested that the British government allows the temporary admission of unaccompanied Jewish children, without their parents,"
John indicated to Sir William that he would consider accepting one of these children into his family.
When Ruth’s mother told Sir William to make arrangements he got a message to his brother, John, and the reply came back. Sir William then told her he had contacts within the English defence community. What he did not tell her was that he was in effect an undercover intelligence agent.
Early that Friday morning Ruth’s mother packed a small bag of clothes along with a little amount of food for Ruth’s journey. Ruth thought that she was going on a train with a nice man for a long holiday and one day soon, mummy would join her. Sir William walked to the station with them. He was particularly on edge that morning and kept looking over his shoulder. Ruth had her identification card with a ribbon around her neck and seemed happy like any three-year-old would be, going on a holiday.
As there were many parents there to say goodbye to their children, the station platform was crowded. Most realised it would be the last time they would be with their children, and yet they held out hope for the future. A larger than usual contingent of soldiers on the station worried no one.
A cold chill came over the whole platform as the train pulled into the station and almost at once the engine detached while another hitched at the other end. Sir William sighted John at the open carriage window and then with Ruth and her mother approached the window
In a brief conversation, John reassured Ruth’s mother that he and his wife, Madeline, would take good care of Ruth. He also told her he would make arrangements for a Rabbi to help with her education. Ruth’s mother finally felt relieved that Ruth would be taken care of by good and understanding people. Sir William had previously told John about Ruth’s family, so he was aware of the trauma she may have experienced.
Two soldiers stood at each of the carriage steps and checked the identification of the children before they boarded the train. Two additional soldiers were on each set of steps with their rifles at the ready in case any of the adults tried to board the train or, any of the passengers attempted to leave the train. John took Ruth into his arms, and they returned to his seat so Ruth would be able to wave goodbye to her mother.
The soldiers kept a three-metre gap between the parents and the train, but they could still talk to each other, but not touch.
As the train departed, three Gestapo officers grabbed hold of Sir William. John saw this in horror from the carriage and was even more horrified when Sir William broke free, and the Gestapo men shot him. If that was not distressing enough when Ruth’s mother leaned over William, they shot her through the head, and he heard them laugh and call out, “Die, Jewish whore!”
A new life begins
John was grateful Ruth had been distracted and did not see her mother murdered. Ruth noticed John muttering almost silently with tears in his eyes and making the sign of the cross. He hid his grief for Ruth’s sake.
The journey to Rotterdam became the first chance for John to get to know Ruth. He was grateful William taught Ruth some rudimentary English even though while at school he had learnt a practical knowledge of the German language. He thought she should know him as “Uncle John,” and he would introduce Madeline as “Aunt Madeline.” It was a slow journey and relatively quiet until they reached the border crossing near Het Kwartier. The Dutch border police were very civil while the Germans extensively examined the documents of every passenger. They seemed to glare with disgust at every child.
John was glad they did not search his bags as he had documents that included Ruth’s birth certificate, along with that of her mother and grandparents. Amongst the other documents was a declaration William had smuggled into Germany that would give John and Madeline the authority to act as Ruth’s guardian. Ruth’s mother had signed this and had it witnessed by a well-respected Rabbi in Frankfurt. Ruth wore a German Identity card around her neck, endorsed for one-way travel out of Germany.
When they arrived in the port of Rotterdam, the Dutch Quaker community organised tables full of hot food. John saw this as another example of good organisation in place.
The ship taking them to Folkestone in England was an old ship. A British member of the Jewish community had paid for the charter out of his own pocket.
Ruth slept on the boat, and when they arrived in England, Madeline was waiting at the dock for them. The immigration official, realising the trauma the children had experienced, looked only briefly at each child’s identification before stamping it and letting them into England. Their only concern was that appropriate responsible people were on hand to care for them. Ruth and the Bromfields boarded the train for the two hours journey to London, where they had a three-hour wait for their train to Millbrook.
It had been an unusually long day, and three-year-old Ruth was completely worn out. Even the excitement of a new home with a bedroom all to herself was not enough to keep her awake. John and Madeline looked at her asleep in bed, then knelt down and prayed that Ruth would not have to witness any more horror.
The next morning, Ruth woke to a brand new world. From her room, she saw daylight, and she heard birds chirping outside her window. She slept in a room all by herself for the first time in her life, and it was a beautiful place. A vase of flowers on it in the corner and the chair in the other corner sat a huge teddy bear. The door open and in came Aunt Madeline. “Goog morgen darling,” she said, “Haben Sie eine gute sleep?” Ruth laughed at the strange accent and replied in English, “Yes, thank you, I slept well.” Madeline knew at once that language would not be a problem.
She took Ruth to the bathroom and after washing her and cleaning her teeth, they went down to the kitchen. John was sitting down with his bowl of porridge, and he said to her, “Sie sehen schön Heute morgen.” She laughed and replied. “Mummy said that I must always try to speak English now, and I must learn twenty more words every day.” John smiled and replied, “Well, from now on it will be English only.”
Madeline put a bowl of porridge with a glass of juice in front of her, and Ruth replied. “Danke schön–er thank you.” They all laughed.
After breakfast, Madeline suggested that she take Ruth into nearby Bedford and go shopping for a new wardrobe for Ruth. Her mother had tried to look after her, but, new children’s clothing along with toys were luxuries in Germany. It had been hard enough to gather food. The only toy Ruth owned was the shabby rag doll that she carried with her. She did, however, have two dresses, a coat, and a pair of gloves. She also had the shoes she wore and three sets of warm underwear.
Madeline dressed Ruth, and they walked to the bus stop and caught the bus into Bedford. Ruth remembered in later years' how people were all smiling and laughing. Frankfurt people never smiled!
Ruth liked Aunt Madeline and clung close to her with her hand held tight. Madeline loved the feeling as well. When they went into any shop, Madeline asked her every time what she thought of each item. At first, Ruth said she loved everything. Madeline realised that although she was only three years old, Ruth had been taught to appreciate every gift and not to “turn her nose up” at anything she didn’t particularly like.
Madeline took her out and into a cake shop. She told Ruth to choose the cake she would like to eat. Ruth walked up and down the row of cupcakes many times. Madeline saw the smile she gave towards the cakes and the frown towards others. When Ruth finally made her choice, they sat at the table and Madeline ordered it along with tea for herself and a fizzy drink for Ruth.
Madeline then explained to Ruth that just like the cakes, she must choose the dress and shoes she liked best. Ruth could have four dresses and two pairs of shoes. She could also have two pairs of slacks and some singlets and underpants. She could also have a swimsuit. Ruth would choose carefully, and Madeline was grateful that Ruth was now beginning to show her individuality.
Although English was not Ruth’s natural language she chatted endlessly, and although she had a broad accent, Madeline understood most of what she said. After a morning’s shopping, they were heading back to the bus when Ruth saw all the dolls in the window of a toy shop. She said nothing, but she stopped and smiled as her eyes browsed all over the window display. Madeline smiled and said to her, “Uncle John may get mad at me, but you should have one new doll.” Ruth jumped for joy and said “Danke! Can I have that one please?” She pointed to a small doll in the corner. Madeline bought it and all the way to the bus stop Ruth held it tight. Madeline thought it was probably the first new toy she ever had.
When they arrived back at the vicarage, Ruth ran inside with the parcels and shouted, “Uncle John! Look what Aunt Madeline bought for me. Clothes! Dresses! Shoes! Gloves! A doll! Underpants! All for me! I am so lucky Uncle John, to be living here with you and Aunt Madeline.”
John smiled and winked at Madeline. The joy this little girl was bringing into their life overshadowed the events that developed overseas,
While they had been shopping John made arrangements for the Rabbi from Cambridge to visit them the following week. As there was no synagogue in Bedford, the Rabbi who was based in Cambridge, made regular visits and said that he would call on John during his stay.
John also had called his Bishop. He needed to be clear on the direction he planned to take on Ruth’s upbringing. With both the Bishop’s and the Rabbi’s blessings, John thought that Ruth should be baptised as soon as possible and attend Sunday school. At the same time, she should spend a part of Saturday with a Jewish family and occasionally join them on Friday evening for “Shabbat-dinner”.
It was decided that it would be nice although not essential if John and Madeline both accompanied her. Then when Ruth approached the age of twelve, she should be prepared for her “Bat Mitzvah” When Ruth became thirteen, she should be allowed to take her confirmation into the Church of England, if she wanted to.
If the Bishop and the Rabbi agreed, this ensured that Ruth has a spiritual upbringing, exposed to both faiths.
On taking her Bat Mitzvah when twelve, Jewish traditions are such, that she would then assume responsibility for her faith and morals. She would be able to be confirmed if she wanted to.
The next morning, after breakfast, Madeline took Ruth for a walk around the church grounds and the church. She explained to Ruth that she could play anywhere on the grounds, but not to go out of the gate, without a grown up!
The church itself fascinated her. Ruth loved playing outside, and she took three days before she had explored the entire grounds. Madeline made it appear that she was by herself, but, while she played outside, Madeline watched her like a hawk from the rectory windows.
Their first Sunday was significant, and yet Ruth went about things as normal. She woke up, went to the bathroom, cleaned her teeth and dressed for breakfast. All by herself! Ruth loved choosing what clothes to wear, especially as they always smelled nice and clean.
After breakfast, she heard the church bell for the first time. Madeline explained to her that John was the priest of the Village and on Sunday mornings people came to pray and learn about God in the church. John helped them pray and learn.
Ruth’s eyes widened, and she asked if she could learn to pray as well. Madeline laughed and told her, “of course you can.”
As they walked over to the church, Ruth saw many people going in. She noticed some children as well. They sat in the middle of the church, and most of the ladies waved to Madeline and smiled at Ruth. Ruth thought this was exciting. Whenever she was in a crowd in Germany, everyone was frowning and looking around. In this place, no one frowned, and everyone smiled.
Suddenly everyone stood! Then a voice from the rear of the church spoke. Immediately the church filled with music. She didn’t know it at the time, but that was the organ starting. Then everyone started singing, real loud! Ruth looked around (Madeline had sat her at the end of the pew so she could see everything). Some people were walking in from the door, holding books and singing.
She saw Uncle John immediately after the man holding a wooden cross high. She tried running to him, but Madeline held her hand tight. After that, she did not take her eyes off him for the whole service.
Near the end of the service, everyone walked to the front where Uncle John and two other people stood.
Everyone knelt down, and Uncle John gave them something to eat, and the other two people gave them something to drink from a shiny glass. She knelt next to Aunt Madeline, and when Uncle John came in front of them, he gave Aunt Madeline a piece of the bread (it was a tiny bit). He then put his hands on Ruth’s head. Ruth didn’t know what it meant but was sure it must have been significant.
Finally, during what was to be the last song, the people who were with Uncle John, started walking out of the church while Uncle John followed. All the other people moved and followed them. When they came to the door, Uncle John stood there shaking everyone’s hand and talking to them. Madeline held her hand tight as she spoke to the other women outside the church.
A couple of the ladies asked Ruth her name. Then a small boy came up to her and said. “Little girl, can you play with me sometimes?” she looked up at Madeline, who then said. “Of course, you can”. Ruth turned to the boy and said, “My name is Ruth, what is yours?” Ruth had made her first English friend.
The Bishop called on John the following Wednesday. After the pleasantries, John outlined to him the plans he had for raising Ruth and that he had hoped to gain the Bishop’s approval.
The Bishop agreed with his motivation but said that he had reservations about a priest of the Church of England, raising a child as a member of the Jewish faith. John pointed out to him that he thought the protection of the child was his first responsibility as well as the promises he had made to her mother.
The Bishop pondered for a while, then he advised John. “If we baptised the child, her soul would be safe. If she were exposed to the Jewish faith and eventually took her Bat Mitzvah, it would not be a sign of rejection of Christ, as Jesus was a member of the Jewish faith. When a Jew turns to Christ, he is not asked to reject Moses’ teachings.”
“Although I still have grave reservations about your plan, I cannot fault it spiritually. I question the possible confusion for the child and the reaction of your peers and congregation.”
John replied that as long as there was no hiding the reasons for this journey, his peers being kind and loving Christians, would accept this. If he and Madeline adopted Ruth after the appropriate waiting time, and he addressed the congregation, he felt it would be a living example of Christian love. The Bishop agreed and suggested that after John met with the Rabbi, a meeting should be arranged between the three of them and an unofficial memorandum of understanding be drawn up. John agreed.
The meeting with the Rabbi the next day went even better. The Rabbi liked the approach that John proposed and did not find fault with it. He appreciated that John had taken Ruth in, and he agreed with her being baptised. If John were to be her father as a child, she should be raised in a Christian family. Exposing her to the faith of her mother and grandparents was the right thing. After Ruth’s Bat Mitzvah, she should be free to accept either faith or both.
The Rabbi thought he knew of a local Jewish family, the Goldberg’s, who would be glad to have John, his wife and Ruth join them sometimes for their Shabbat-dinner and other Jewish festivals. John thought to himself how lucky Ruth would be, to be able to share a Passover meal each Easter.
The Bishop and the Rabbi joined John, Madeline and Ruth the next week, then formulated the private memorandum of understanding. In a surprising move, the Rabbi asked the Bishop if he could attend Ruth’s baptism. The Bishop agreed and asked could he attend her Bat Mitzvah. They then all prayed for guidance and asked for God’s blessing on this unusual arrangement.
They arranged for Ruth’s baptism to take place in a month’s time. John advised his congregation of the agreement and announced that Rabbi Jacobs would be present. The Bishop would perform the ceremony. This way the congregation would know the Bishop’s approval and the Rabbi’s acceptance. They also would invite the Goldbergs, the Jewish family who would be sharing the Shabbat-dinner.
In less than three weeks of Ruth’s arrival in Milford, she had developed a small circle of friends. They were mainly children of John’s parishioners, but through Madeline’s sewing club, Ruth was also exposed to other kids. Madeline also allowed Ruth to play with other children in their homes. Her English was becoming perfect, and she rarely used German words. Her best friend was Jody, whose Dad was in the army.
John spoke to Charles Wilson, a solicitor and a member of his congregation, about the process to adopt Ruth and whether she would need to be naturalised. Charles advised him that some obstacles existed as there was no evidence of Ruth’s mother’s death.
The solicitor then made enquiries, and he advised them on the direction to take. It would possibly take six months to sort out. It seemed that after studying the rules, Ruth would need to be declared “abandoned” and made a Ward of the State. John and Madeline could then adopt her. All the preliminaries would need to be in place and all relevant declarations in the hands of the court. At the court hearing, there would be three separate rulings. Ruth would be declared abandoned. Then the court would appoint her a Ward of the State, followed by the granting of John and Mary’s adoption of her. All three rulings would take place in the same court and immediately follow the previous hearing. English law could be cumbersome, but with correct steering, the desired outcome could be achieved.
When John first addressed his congregation, he saw the confusion on the faces of some of them. They all praised and supported John for taking Ruth in and saving her from certain death, but some were confused about the “duel religion” situation. Madeline listened to their reaction and told John later. The one comment that amused both of them was that one woman had been overheard saying, “Being a Jew is not as bad as being a bloody Catholic!”
John brought them all around by ensuring all the readings over the next few weeks mentioned that Jesus came from a Jewish Family, and all the early disciples were Jews. The most convincing readings came from the Gospel where Jesus prayed in the synagogue. He drove this home further with Paul’s letter to the Hebrews.
On the day of Ruth’s Baptism, Madeline prepared a celebration feast. She was careful not to have any food that could be objectionable to the Rabbi and other Jews present. Madeline was already aware of the need to avoid ham and bacon from the day Ruth first arrived.
They had asked two members of the Parish Council to be Ruth’s God Parents. They did not expect many to attend the Baptism, but they did expect the Goldberg’s to be there.
John decided that he would not be wearing his robes as the Bishop would conduct the service. Ruth wore a new dress that Madeline had been saving for the occasion, and Madeline asked one of her friends to take photos with her Brownie box camera.
When they entered the church, they felt honoured to see it packed. Rabbi Jacobs and the Goldberg’s sat in the front pew. (The Bishop had discreetly told the usher to keep two pews for any members of the Jewish community)
John also noticed the Roman Catholic Priest and some of the nuns also there. They all wore street clothes because Catholics at that time did not go into Protestant churches. Other churches also had representatives mixed in with the congregation.
The support given to Ruth made John feel so humble, on this most spiritual occasion in her young life.
Even though John and Madeline had taken pains to explain the Baptism and the significance to Ruth, she was still in awe of the proceedings.
When the Bishop said “Ruth–er I baptise you in the name of...” Ruth said, “My name is Ruth Bromfield!”
Madeline smiled and wondered how Ruth knew their surname. It appeared Ruth had overheard a parishioner refer to John as Father John Bromfield.
The reception developed into an exciting affair. Everyone (except for the Catholic Priest and nuns) stayed for it. John made an extra effort for Ruth to meet the Goldbergs and their son Jacob. Jacob was just a little older than her.
The Bishop and the Rabbi seemed to get along with each other and, John was somewhat surprised when the Methodist and Presbyterian pastors joined them. By the time John joined them they were in deep conversations wondering what their responsibilities would be when the war started.
It later became apparent this occasion would become a starting point for discussions that will need to happen regularly between them if war broke out. Ruth’s presence had become a constant reminder of the evil that Hitler’s Third Reich was spreading in Europe.
Sir William Bromfield
Although John was genuinely shocked to witness his brother being murdered at the railway station, he was not surprised. William had known of the dangers, but his hostile hatred for the Nazi regime had driven him to take risks for his country.
The Bromfield family were wealthy industrialists who for the last three generations ran Bromfield Industries, a group of engineering and manufacturing companies. Traditionally, the family kept only a small proportion of their wealth to themselves. Most of the profits went to the Bromfield Charitable Trust, which supported many charitable organisations.
The company’s structure allowed for William as well as his brother, John, to be uninvolved in the daily running of its enterprises. John had entered the Church, while William pursued his interest in innovating machinery development. William had developed a reputation as a leading designer of farming equipment and other mechanical methods of farming. He had travelled extensively studying farming methods all over Europe and had established an extensive network of agriculture equipment manufacturers.
With the rise of the Third Reich and Hitler’s expansionist plans, many German farm equipment factories developed weapons and military vehicles. In time, British manufacturers followed suit.
William had been contacted by the War Department early in 1934 and asked if he would be willing to continue to travel to Germany. By using his connections, he was to note what developments were taking place. With the passing of time, this would be the basis of vital intelligence should war break out.
William could also use this information in the development of any equipment that the family companies may be required to manufacture for the British Government. Initially, it would be a low-key operation, and there would be minimal risks to William’s personal safety.
Later on, the War Department asked him to map out the locations of the German factories. Doing this increased his risk as he would then be conveying military information. They gave him a small camera, but he committed most of the information to memory and placed the locations on maps each time he returned home.
William did not raise any suspicion with the Germans until he was seen drinking coffee with Ruth’s grandfather. Although it was a casual observation, a minor official thought it worthwhile to find out who and why this foreigner was having coffee with a Jew. It then became apparent that as William’s business caused him to visit manufacturers, he warranted further investigation.
William remained under surveillance for the rest of that journey. The Gestapo continued their investigation, so they arrested the Jew William had been seen having coffee with. They grilled him with all the force that they could. Even though he knew nothing of William’s activities, other than being an English manufacturer. He was thought to have died under interrogation
On William’s next visit, (somehow the Gestapo missed him at the border) he noticed that his friend was not at the usual coffee shop. He did, however, run into the Jew’s troubled daughter who told of his arrest and her mother’s apparent suicide.
That is when William told her about the possibility of getting her young child out of Germany. He sent a message to England requesting the paperwork that would be needed to admit Ruth into England. When the woman agreed to send Ruth away, William crossed the border to France, where he met with a British courier. He also sent a message to his brother. His brother replied almost immediately and made arrangements to be on the next “Kindertransport.”
When William crossed back into Germany, the Gestapo expected him. Their agents in Paris had seen him receive a package from the courier. They followed him to determine where he was going before they apprehended him, planning to investigate what the messenger gave him.
Leaving the train at Frankfurt William caught a taxi, and the Gestapo followed him. Three blocks from the station a truck carrying a full load of bottles failed to stop at an intersection and crashed into the car carrying the Gestapo. The last thing the truck driver saw was the flash of the pistol, the injured Gestapo member held in his hand.
William, being unaware he had been under surveillance, met with Ruth’s mother and gave her the documents. He arranged to meet her in two days’ time at the station where Ruth would go with William’s brother John to England.
The Gestapo searched everywhere for William but had no luck until they saw him on the platform at the railway station. As there were guards at every door of the train, there had been no need to check everyone going onto the platform.
William met up with Ruth and her mother and then, after he briefly spoke to his brother through the carriage window, passed Ruth to him at the door.
William and Ruth’s mother returned to the window, and as the train started to pull out, one of the Gestapo agents recognised William. Realising it was the Gestapo, William wanted to move away from the train and Ruth’s mother so she would not appear to be with him. They called out for him to halt, but he kept moving.
Three shots rang out, and the Englishman lay dead on the platform. Ruth’s mum saw all this and ran to help William. As she bent over him, she was shot with one bullet in her head.
Between John’s account, along with another agent’s (who was on the station at the time) report, the British developed an exact account of what happened.
The maps that William had provided turned out to be extremely valuable to the British after the war started.
The lessons William learnt and passed on to his company enabled a new division to be set up specialising in water storage and transportation, (Dams and Pipelines).
John needed to address the board of the company to inform them of William’s death and to assume the role of “non-executive president of Bromfield Industries.”
John would only need to attend board meetings four times a year and therefore, would not need to have any active role in the daily running of the company. He did, however, received regular reports and kept a keen interest in the “Water Storage and Transportation.” division.
PROJECT ORION: WE COME IN PEACE (WITH NUCLEAR BOMBS!)
[DECLASSIFIED IN 1979]
It could have been just like the movies. Specifically, the soppy sci-fi melodramas of the 1950s, those humorless, grim-faced sagas of men (always white Americans), square-jawed and broad of shoulder, who faced that Great Unknown, outer space (cue the reverb) with stoicism and Yankee guts. The troupe of six to twelve individuals were usually clad in faded blue jumpsuits (probably because they were all of military bent, possibly US Air Force)—no space suits or helmets for these guys; worrying about decompression is for sissies. These were steely-eyed, anvil-chinned rocket men. The heroes would walk up a ramp or climb a ladder into the great, gleaming, cigar-shaped silver rocketship (a long-lost term widely used in the early 1950s) without assistance or fanfare—in that sunny postwar era, it took only a handful of servicemen and a few elderly scientists to launch a manned rocket. Once inside, the crewmen would close a submarine-style hatch, strap themselves into great steel chairs, take one last look around their girder-festooned, capacious cabin (1950s rocketship flight decks were the size of your average New York bachelor pad and built like battleships), nod silently to the eldest of the bunch (usually wearing colonel's eagles), who would then push the button. This was inevitably a large red push button, marked in true military parlance with something like "IGNITE ROCKETS" or more simply "FIRE!" and off they would go into the Wild Blue Yonder, while on the ground (in a similarly military posture, perhaps within a Quonset hut in New Mexico), a few worried guys in white lab coats watched a twelve-inch radar screen with a huge white dot ascending. A handful of servicemen usually stood nearby, looking vacuously at meaningless blinking lights dancing on their consoles. A single computer, the size of a small RV, would click and whir nearby. This was Space Command (or some other imagined, militarized NASA precursor) after all.
Upon reaching space, the colonel would grasp an ice cream cone–sized microphone cabled to the control panel, and as he looked in awe at a receding Earth on the giant "televisor" screen, he'd announce in dour tones, "This is spaceship X-1. We are in outer space." It was all very dramatic and thematically colorless. If you don't believe me, check out the classic 1950s cinematic space extravaganzas The Conquest of Space or Destination Moon, staples of the genre. Be sure to watch closely during the launch scenes, as the actors' faces are distorted by the horrifying, and as yet little understood, g-forces of launch. Within moments the 737-sized, single-stage craft was in space—no dawdling in orbit—heading in a straight line for the moon or Mars. It's all very humbling and fun, in a deadly serious fashion.
To be fair to the pioneering producers of these epic motion picture dramas, little was known of spaceflight before the 1960s, and sci-fi movie budgets were puny. Few movie studios took the genre seriously, and it's amazing that these innovative moviemakers pulled off what they did, given the general lack of respect these drive-in, Saturday matinee potboilers gained for them.2 But as we now know, the dramatic scenario outlined above is not exactly how human spaceflight turned out.
But it could have been.
The Apollo lunar landing program, initiated shortly after these types of films were made, mandated a different approach. NASA's moon rocket, Wernher von Braun's masterpiece, would be a multistage affair, operating right at the edge of its weight-lifting capability. NASA's first plan was to ascend directly to the moon, land, then, after a suitable period of exploration, return to Earth, shedding stages at appropriate junctures. But this brute-force methodology would have required a truly massive rocket (it was to be called Nova, and was much larger than its successor, the Saturn V), well beyond the means at hand. A bit more planning and a lot of innovative thinking resulted in the moon program we all remember, with the still-massive 363-foot Saturn V rocket propelling a tiny capsule and lander to the moon, of which only the thirteen-foot-wide capsule returned. It took hundreds of thousands of people to build it, thousands to launch and operate it, and somewhere north of twenty billion 1960s dollars to finance it. Apollo was a far cry from the rocketships of the movies.
But there were alternative plans for a massive, battleship-sized single-stage spacecraft that could have flown to the moon and beyond. In its ultimate form, this behemoth would have dwarfed the motion picture versions. A hundred or more crewmen, leaning back in space-age versions of Barcaloungers, would have departed Earth with enough fuel, life support, and supplies to reach the moon, Mars, or even Jupiter and Saturn within months. Once in space the crew would have unbelted themselves and had far more room to drift, eat, work, and sleep than the International Space Station and even most modern submarines offer. It would have been like a well-appointed office complex in space, a true space liner—this majestic craft could have unlocked the entire solar system to exploration within the decade. And best of all? It was atomic.
The massive spaceship was called Project Orion (no relation to the modern shuttle-replacing spacecraft beyond the cool name), and it would have been a nuclear-powered behemoth. Orion was first formally conceptualized in a 1955 study by Stanislaw Ulam, a Polish American mathematician who was part of the Manhattan Project in WWII, and Cornelius Everett, working from notions that Ulam had first pondered soon after WWII. Besides working on the bombs dropped on Japan, Ulam was, along with Edward Teller, a prime mover on America's first hydrogen bomb project. Soon after completing his work on H-bombs, Ulam formalized his thoughts about nuclear rocket propulsion. Other work was being done on atomic rockets, but was less dramatic—these projects involved superheating a fuel mass, such as liquid hydrogen, inside a fission reactor to eject it at high speeds out of the rocket nozzle. While much more efficient than the chemical rockets being designed by von Braun and others, it was not the massive leap in propulsion that would take humanity to the stars. Ulam had a different idea—nuclear pulse propulsion, which was not fully declassified until 1979.3 From the abstract:
Repeated nuclear explosions outside the body of a projectile are considered as providing means to accelerate such objects to velocities of the order of 106 cm/sec.4
Yes, that's right. Rather than fiddling around with rapidly expanding heated gasses with a nuclear reactor, Ulam took the most direct path to high energy release: nuclear explosions. Ulam had been mulling this over for more than a decade, reasoning that chemical rockets were terribly constrained by both the mass of the fuels and the temperatures at which they could realistically operate. Other proposals to detonate tiny nukes inside combustion chambers (one proposal suggested a chamber diameter of 130 feet, or almost four times the diameter of the Saturn V), while an improvement over chemical rockets, were deemed impractical, and did not offer a large enough increase in performance to impress Ulam. But what if the combustion chamber could be eliminated altogether and a small nuke simply detonated in open space? A percentage of the energy released by a reasonably sized nuclear explosion—not specified in the paper, but probably on the order of a half to one kiloton (about 10 percent that of the Hiroshima bomb)—would nudge a nearby spacecraft with propulsive force that, while brief, would be enormous.
Ulam characterized the spacecraft as an unmanned thirty-three-foot diameter, disk-shaped ship, with a mass of twelve to twenty tons. It would experience an acceleration of up to 10,000 g (the Apollo astronauts, riding atop the Saturn V, maxed out at just under 5 g, though the rocket was capable of more)—hence the unmanned nature of the design. Human occupants would have been turned into puddles of red jelly within moments. This robotic probe would carry dozens to hundreds of bombs, to be released at roughly one-second intervals (accompanied by a disk of plastic or container of water that would vaporize when the nuke ignited, to enhance the effect), and the resulting force of these continual explosions would propel the craft forward—right now.
Ulam was concerned about the heat impinging on the base of the craft, and suggested that a magnetic field might help to shield the spacecraft from the high-energy, one-millisecond flashes.
This was about as far as he got—it was a short study, but an intriguing one, and did not go unnoticed. In 1955 a new company called General Atomics was founded. It was a subdivision of General Dynamics, a huge defense contractor and builder of military submarines. General Atomics would specialize in efforts to harness the recently liberated power of the atom—in effect, their mission would be to find profit in nondestructive uses of atomic fission. The company became involved in a number of ventures, including a commercial nuclear reactor power generator, which was widely deployed. They also became interested in Ulam's classified paper (to which the chiefs of the company were apparently privy), and decided to pursue a serious study of the completely theoretical ideas within. Thus was born Project Orion, the nuclear pulse spaceship.
“William Charker, for your part in the burglary of the dwelling of Thomas Evans at St. Mary Lambeth and stealing goods to the value of £33.60 you are hereby sentenced, along with your accomplice, to 7 years transportation to the colony of New South Wales.”
William Charker was born in Winchester, Hampshire, England on 16th of December, 1774. The fourteenth child of a family of fifteen, his father, Edward Charker, a Tallow Chandler and his mother Elizabeth (nee Barr). The Charkers were wealthy traders and yeoman farmers and so William well educated and independent. On the 7th of December, 1800 he inexplicably became involved (with an accomplice) in a substantial burglary at the dwelling house of Thomas Evans at St Mary Lambeth stealing goods to the value of £33.6.0.
The two were arrested and tried on 25th of March, 1801 at the Surrey Assizes. Each sentenced to only seven years even though their crime being a capital offence. At his trial, his name given as William Charker, alias William Chalker, was is the first known use of the alias which became his general name in Australia, except on Legal Documents and Government Correspondence where he always used Charker.
William had known a little about New South Wales. He had said to Thomas “my knowledge amounted to little more than that after being discovered by the explorer James Cook in 1770,” New South Wales had become an alternate for transportation destination of convicts as the Americans were no longer willing to have convicts dumped there after their War of Independence in in1776.
Transportation had become a viable alternate both physical and financial to storing the excess prisoners that there was no longer room in the overcrowded prisons. The short term solution of holding prisoners in prison hulks moored in the rivers of southern England.
Hulks were retired naval or merchant ships that would still float but considered unseaworthy. In most cases, all the upper superstructure (Masts, etc.) had been removed and most of the below deck space converted into gaol cells. Because of the poor condition of the hulks, more guards were necessary as well as the continual outbreaks of disease created an unacceptable risk to the greater population.
Transportation costs would be about the same cost as keeping prisoners in hulks but once they arrived in New South Wales they could be put to work and the colony would become self-sufficient in a short time. Additionally, as there was no danger of escape back into the English general population, it became possible to cut a large number of guards.
On the 6th of December 1785, Orders in Council were issued in London for the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales, on land claimed by Britain by explorer James Cook in his first voyage to the Pacific in 1770.
The First Fleet is the name given to the 11 ships which left Great Britain on the 13th of May 1787 to found a penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships, and six convict transports, carrying more than one thousand convicts, marines and seamen, and a vast quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay, arriving in mid-January 1788, taking two hundred and fifty-two days from departure to final arrival.
William went first to the County Gaol and then on to the prison hulk HMS Protée. Protée started as a sixty-four gun ship of the line of the French Navy, launched in 1772. Captured by the Royal Navy on the 24th of February 1780 and converted to serve as a prison ship in 1799, then finally broken up in 1815.
William surveyed his surroundings and later he would recall to his children.
“The conditions on board the floating gaols were appalling; the standards of hygiene were so poor that disease spread quickly. The living quarters were so bad that it was like living in a sewer. The hulks were cramped, and we had to sleep in fetters. We had to live on one deck that was barely high enough to let a man stand. The officers lived in cabins in the stern.”
“When on arriving on board, we were all at once stripped and washed in two large tubs of water, then, after putting on a suit of coarse slop clothing, we were put in irons and sent below with our own clothes being taken from them.”
“We now were poorly dressed as well as unhealthy. They were supposed to give us a linen shirt, a brown jacket and a pair of breeches but the men who controlled the ships usually pocketed the money the government had given for our clothes.”
“Six-hundred of us were confined in this floating dungeon nearly, most of us were double-ironed, and I saw the horrible effects arising from the continual rattling of chains, the filth and vermin naturally produced by such a crowd of miserable inhabitants, the oaths and execrations regularly heard amongst them…. The sick were given little medical attention and were not separated from the healthy.”
“I felt elated when finally in January 1802, I was transferred to the convict transport Coromandel. Us convicts were housed below decks on the prison deck and often further confined behind bars. In many cases, we were restrained in chains and only allowed on deck for fresh air and exercise. Conditions were cramped, and we slept in hammocks.”
“We departed from Spithead in company with the Perseus on 12 February 1802.”
As soon as they cleared, England conditions aboard improved. They were now no longer considered a threat of escape, and so the restrictions were somewhat eased.
As they sailed south to and past the Canary Islands, the daily routine was beginning to set in. At four in the early morning, the prisoner cooks (three in numbers) were admitted on deck and at five-thirty. The captain of his division (the convict nominated as a senior convict) joined the other captains on the upper deck for the purpose of filling wash tubs while the remaining prisoners commenced taking up their beds and hammocks. By six, William and the first half of the prisoners were admitted for the purpose of washing their person. Within half an hour the other half were allowed to wash. Breakfast was at eight and during breakfast, the ship’s crew were cleaning upper deck and water closets
While heading southwards across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro, they ran into the first of many storms.
William managed to keep his food down, but the ship became awash with vomit. The seasoned sailors joked about how convicts predicament. It must be realised that the majority of the convicts had never been to sea and were still recovering from the cramped conditions aboard the prison hulks.
Aboard the Ship were several families of free settlers, but as they were kept separate from all the convicts, William knew nothing about them. He wondered what people would voluntary take their family to this unknown place that reportedly had very few refinements and facilities.
“The clouds seem to rise from the water, turning day into night. Then suddenly the wind began to howl, and initially the ship lurched dangerously to starboard before the helmsman could correct the list. I thought that we were goners. Then came the driving rain, It was so fierce I was sure it was cutting into the deck timbers above them. The unbearable stench of the vomit from my fellow prisoners seemed to cover the whole deck. We would have preferred to be on deck instead of in that hell hole we were confined.”
The storm abated after about 10 hours and then the weather calmed. The days were becoming warmer as the travelled through the tropics and the many tropical storms did not seem as bad as that first one not long after they sailed past the Canary Islands.
The daily routine continued and to Williams first surprise as well as cleaning and general “housekeeping duties” there was a regular schooling and religious instruction. He could not figure out if this were to subdue the convicts and keep discipline or did the authorities think that a better education and religious training would cause them to “change their bad habits.”
Not long after he sighted land off Brazil, he noted that the course turned to south-eastward and followed the westerly winds across the Atlantic to the Cape.
The seas were beginning to roughen up, and the temperature had dropped, but it was still a lot warmer than when they had left England.
The journey across the southern Atlantic was reasonably uneventful until they drew nearer to the Cape. The wind increased dramatically causing the ship to pitch and roll. Even the sight of land on the port side did little to raise the spirits of William although after they had sailed a day into the Indian Ocean, the weather improved.
It was during this time that one of the convicts became violently ill and despite the efforts of the crew, he passed away.
It amazed William to how all the crew and every convict lined the decks while the poor soul was given a decent burial at sea.
“We all lined the deck. Prisoners, officers, crew as well as the free settlers. The body was on a plank leaning over the side and covered with the Queen’s flag. As the captain said those words that committed the body to the sea, two of the crew raised one end of the plank, and the lifeless body slid from underneath the flag and into the deep.”
In reflection, William pondered as to how different the voyage was as compared to the horrific stories that had been circulation in the gaols and prison hulks in England.
He noted that the crew at no time had acted as guards, and a few of the crew showed great symphony for the convict’s predicament. He had also admired the respect that the crew had shown the female convicts and how some of them entertained the children of the female convicts.
By the end of May they had crossed the Indian Ocean and at times over the next few weeks, they kept seeing land to the north of the port beam.
The land kept on appearing as they turned north and there was an air of excitement mixed the in trepidation of what lay ahead.
Finally, on the 13th of July 1808, they sailed into Port Jackson.
As they sailed through the heads, the captain decided to allow groups of convicts on deck. Each group was allowed fifteen minutes. The captain knew that if he kept them confined he would run the risk of rioting because if they saw a glimpse of their destination, they would start to relax and possibly an air of excitement would replace the feelings of despair some must have been feeling.
“It was unbelievable.” William later recalled “This big harbour that seemed to go for miles. The soft green grass behind the mixture of rocky shores and small golden beaches and the thick bushland behind the shores made this place seem like paradise.”
They had sailed nonstop, the first convict ship to do so, Governor King on the 9th August 1802 was so impressed with the treatment and the condition of the prisoners that he wrote the following report:-
“The healthy state in which the Coromandel and Perseus arrived requires my particularly pointing out the masters of those ships to your notice. It appears by the log books, surgeon's diaries and the unanimous voice of every person on board those ships that the utmost kindness to the convicts. This, with the proper application of the comforts Government had so liberally provided for them and the good state of health all the people were in, induced the master of the Coromandel to proceed without stopping at any port. He arrived here in four months and one day, bringing every person in a state of high health, and fit for actual labour.And although it appears that the Perseus necessarily stopped at Rio and the Cape, yet the convicts were in as good condition as those on board the Coromandel. Nor can I omit the great pleasure felt by myself and the other visiting officers at the thanks expressed by the prisoners and passengers for the kind attention and care they had received from the masters and surgeons, who returned, an unusual quantity of the articles laid in by Government for the convicts during the voyage.”
William’s first sight of Sydney Cove was as they were disembarking at the rickety wharf.
“I was amazed at how the settlement had developed after only 14 years. Although rudimentary it was a thriving village.”
William was at first extremely unsteady on his feet due in part to a long sea voyage on rolling seas but also with the cramped conditions on board.
“The smells of shore are amazing. Clean, crisp air, the pleasant aromas of real food cooking but most importantly the lack of stench from humans living so close for so long. I could begin to see that it wasn’t going to be as bad as I had thought to live in this so called hell hole. I see that it may be possible eventually to have a real life in this colony if I behaved myself.”
Much of the town's buildings and infrastructure were centred on the military. The stores and trade were managed mainly be members of the New South Wales Corps and the whole town had a “garrison town” feeling about it.
“My initial thoughts are that the officers New South Wales Corps, seem to have too much influence over the running of the colony and appears that the governor’s office is just to rubber-stamp their decisions. Even the granting of pardons, as well as the allocation of land, seemed to be in the hands of the Corp’s officers.”
“My first night on land is an eerie experience. The lack of movement of the sea along with the entirely different sounds makes falling asleep terrible.”
“Awaking in the morning to the sounds of the native birds chirping along with the clatter of a bustling colony preparing for the task of the day was music to my ears.”
William was assigned shortly after his arrival, to work as a farm labourer for Jonas Archer and Mary Kearns at Mulgrave Place in the Hawkesbury district.
As he travelled to the farm, he was bewildered by the sights and sounds that he encountered.
“My first glance of kangaroos and other native animals give me discomfort although the aboriginals are causing me even more.”
As it turned out before long, he would build a bond and understanding with the local tribes that would lead to a long and peaceful relationship. It was unfortunate that all the settlers were unable to establish this relationship, and distrust disintegrated into bloodshed on many occasions.
Mary Kearns had been convicted of theft in Dublin in 1792 and was sentenced to 7 years transportation. She arrived in Sydney on 17 September 1793 aboard the "Sugarcane".
After completing her sentence, she was granted 65 acres of land in the Hawkesbury area at Green Hills, now known as Windsor.
She had been joined by her lover Jonas Archer and together they had started up clearing for the farm. Jonas was subordinate to Mary as he probably was reminded on many occasions that it was Mary’s grant and, therefore, her farm.
“It was incredible that in two short years, Mary and Jonas were able to clear the land and build a moderately successful farm on these river flats about 20 miles away from Sydney Harbour. Mary was a hard worker, and yet at the same time a very attractive woman, who was trying to build a real future regardless of her poor start.”
Having William assigned to their farm was a Godsend. William was a hard worker and built trust with them. He was always able to make positive improvements, and because he had been raised on farms by his yeoman farmer parents he had a natural gift for mixed farming. “If we plant the vegetable patch between the house and the storage shed, we should have more control over where the animals may roam,” he remarked to Mary shortly after his arrival.
Jonas, on the other hand, had a dislike for farming as well he was proving to be a liability with an extremely bad business attributes.
This untimely led to in 1803, Jonas Archer fled to avoid his creditors and Mary became the sole owner of the farm. Mary always had a liking for William, so it was no surprise that in a short time after Jonas left, she married William. The farm was then known as Chalker’s Farm.
The Rum Corps vs. Governor Bligh
Governor William Bligh reached Sydney on 6th August 1806. He had been sent to replace Governor King, who was looking forward to returning to England. (It was thought that he was disappointed that during his time in office, the officers of the corps had overridden his authority and left him somewhat dejected.
Bligh had a reputation for being extremely autocratic, and he did suffer insubordination from anyone at all.
Losing control of the HMS Bounty to his crew 20 years previous had made him even more ruthless.
Bligh had discovered to his dismay on his arrival that the New South Wales Corps ran most of the commerce under the command of Major George Johnson with the close cooperation of a former officer and now grazier and merchant John McArthur.
Resident farmers of the Hawkesbury region, in particular, had complained to Bligh about the high prices being charged by the Corps for staple goods. The restrictions on availability of mutton by McArthur and, therefore, the high prices for meat further raised their concerns along with the fact that the Corps had attempted to introduce alcoholic liquor (that the Corps had full control of) as a currency. This led the Corps being often referred to as “The Rum Corps” The name being a misnomer as whiskey was the only alcohol used as currency.
Bligh started to attempt to stop these practices and tried to restrict the commercial activities of the Corps but had little success. The impasse continued until on the 26th January 1808 Major Johnson (egged on by McArthur) led a troop in full military regalia accompanied by the regimental band to government house and arrest Bligh. Major Johnson installed himself as the acting governor.
For just under two years Bligh remained under guard until Lachlan Macquarie arrived to assume the position of Governor.
Macquarie was the first non-naval governor and just before his arrival the New South Wales Corps (now known as the 102 regiment of foot) was recalled to England and replaced by the 73 regiment of foot. Major Johnson was court marshalled in England while McArthur was put on trial in Sydney.
Through all this William mostly ignored what was happening in Sydney as he was still a convict and he needed to keep away from controversy for fear of being relocated to another work area. He did, however, hold contempt for the Rum Corps and even more for Bligh, who seemed too weak to control them.
By 1806, they were prospering, but all was about to change with a devastating flood in March of that year in which the settlers lost everything that could not be quickly moved to higher ground. William was driving his stock when he heard the call “HELP.” Looking toward the overflowing river, he saw three of his neighbours struggling in the torrent along with a small child. Without pausing, William ran to the riverbank where his little boat was tied up and rowed out to the middle of the river. He rowed to the child first and after he was aboard William then rowed to save the three men in turn. When it overturned, the adults drowned, but William swam to the shore with the child on his back.
He was rewarded with a Conditional Pardon in August 1806. Conditional pardon meant that although free he was not able to leave the colony until his pardon became absolute. To be pardoned said that William was no longer to be regarded as a thief sentenced to 7 years, but instead, a free man whereas Mary was always to be considered as an ex-criminal.
The Blue Mountains
After the harvest of 1806-7, their marriage ended with a legal separation notified in the Sydney Gazette of July 1807.
The marriage had endured only three years. When it ended, William left took only his horse and left all other property and goods with Mary.
William was granted an Absolute Pardon on April 7th, 1808.
He was now free to return to England but instead chose to remain and enter employment with Gregory Blaxland as his farm overseer, probably at his Brush Farm property and later at his more extensive South Creek holding. William made a good supervisor and had built himself a reputation as a hard worker and a very honest employee.
Along with his Absolute Pardon, William received a grant of 30 acres of land at the Cooks River but did not take up the grant. Instead, in August 1812, he applied for and received a grant of sixty acres at South Creek. The South Creek farm was used mostly to raise cattle while he pursued his other sources of income.
After leaving the employ of Blaxland, he also worked as an overseer for William Lawson at Prospect from 1810 to 1814.
Lawson and Wentworth, as well as being neighbours, were good friends. They were both visionaries who saw the need for the colony’s further expansion in the area. The Blue Mountains to the west had become a barrier to this development of the settlement which was now requiring more farming land to meet its needs, particularly after the droughts of 1812 and 1813.
“The local Indigenous people know at least two routes by which to cross the mountains,” William told Blaxland. The first was along Bilpin Ridge, later followed by Archibald Bell with the assistance of the local Darug people (now the location of Bells Line of Road), and the second was along Cox’s River.
Unfortunately too many of the landholders and free settlers would not believe William as they had all come to distrust the aboriginal people.
Some even believed that the aboriginals were of a sub-human race and therefore not capable of knowing such things. William had long since made friends with a lot of them and as such he appreciated their knowledge of the land. However, he was unable to influence those around him to allow the aboriginals to show the way.
Until 1813 however, the settlers remained unaware of how to cross the mountains, despite several attempts, including two by Blaxland himself. Early in 1813 Blaxland, who wanted more grazing land, obtained the approval of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and approached Lawson and Wentworth to secure their participation in a new exploratory expedition following the mountain ridges.
“Mr. Lawson was able to go with the other two knowing all too well that his farm was being looked after by me,” William told his son at a later date.
Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson led an expedition party, which included four servants, four pack horses, and five dogs. Two of the four men who assisted the party have been identified as James Burne, a guide and kangaroo hunter, and Samuel Fairs, a convict who arrived in Australia in 1809. The two others also thought to be convicts, remain unidentified.
The party left from Blaxland's South Creek farm near the modern suburb of St Marys in western Sydney, on 11 May 1813 and crossed the Nepean River later that day. They made their way over the mountains, following the ridges, and completed the crossing in twenty-one days. The explorers' success has been attributed to the methodical approach and decision to travel on the ridges instead of through the valleys. The three explorers and two of their servants would set out each day, leaving the other two men at their campsite, and mark out a trail, before turning back later in the day to cut a path for the horses and allow the rest of the party to progress.
The party first saw the plains beyond the mountains from Mount York. They continued to Mount Blaxland 25 km south of the site of Lithgow, on the western side of the mountains. From this point, Blaxland declared there was enough forest or grassland “to support the stock of the colony for thirty years,” while Lawson called it "the best-watered Country of any I have seen in the Colony.” The party then turned back, making the return journey in six days.
If Mark Wilkerson had to listen to any more of that morbid organ music, he was going to throw up. A migraine beat against his temples and tears rolled down his cheeks as he stood propped against his crutches, his dislocated shoulder aching. Through bleary eyes, he viewed the three closed coffins at the front of the viewing parlor. Gold glitter on white satin ribbons across the caskets read, “Devoted Father,” “Loving Mother,” and “Baby Sister – Sabrina.” She was only six.
Ornate floral arrangements surrounded the closed caskets, their florist shop fragrance adding to Mark’s migraine. He ran his hand across the smooth surface of his mother’s coffin; fingered the satin ribbon. She was in there, at least what was left of her, but he would never see her again. Never again would he feel the warm touch of her lips on his cheek when she kissed him good night.
His weepy eyes abruptly gushed with tears. What happened? He still wondered, shaking his head. Even though he’d somehow survived the accident, he still didn’t know anything about it. All he knew was what the County Sheriff’s deputy and the doctor at the hospital had told him; that he and his family had been in a tragic, fiery accident on the Carquinez Bridge on Christmas Eve.
The doctor also told him his memory would probably return, but it could take some time. He’d called it “dissociative amnesia," whatever that was. He said it was often caused by severe emotional trauma.
Mark’s grandmother, Emily Wilkerson, told him he’d performed with the family at a rest home earlier that night, but he couldn’t remember that either. He felt, more than remembered his father had been angry about something. Then there was Amanda Bonfili. What happened on their date? Or did they have a date? He just couldn’t remember.
Mark moved to his father’s casket. How could he live without him? His dad had been his greatest inspiration, his best friend. He looked down at the casket as his tears rolled. How could he live with the guilt of knowing their last words may have been spoken in anger? He’d never even had a chance to say I’m sorry, if he’d done something wrong or even good-bye. Somehow, he felt he might have been at least partly responsible for the accident. “Forgive me, dad.” His cries escaped his lips in a whisper, “for whatever I did. I’m sorry.” Tears stung his eyes and he wiped them on his sports jacket sleeve.
He wished he could see his family just one last time, but the undertaker had told him their bodies were too charred. The thought horrified him and Mark agreed it would be better to remember them as he’d last seen them alive.
At least his sister, Amy, was being spared the funeral ordeal. But she was still in a coma and her condition was serious. The doctors said she could have brain damage if she survived. That sounded worse than his amnesia.
The accident had only been three days ago and tomorrow, after the funeral, the coffins would be lowered into the cold ground. Is that all there is to life? Mark wondered, To live your life then be discarded like some trash. Hanging his head, he wished he could have died in their place, or at least with them. How Amy and he had survived was a mystery.
Moving to Sabrina’s casket, he laid his forehead against her tiny coffin. “Dear God! Please make this go away. Make them come back.” But even as he prayed, he knew God couldn’t make that happen, assuming He was even real. After all, why would an all-powerful, loving God take away the people he loved most; his parents and his six-year-old sister who had so much to live for, the family Amy and he needed?
Why? The question kept repeating over in his mind, as he wiped his eyes again. Why did his parents have to die and of all people little Sabrina?
SABRINA! Mark wanted to shout, as if it would bring her back.
He missed his baby sister every bit as much as he missed his mother and father.
“Sabrina,” he whispered.
He would never see her again. Tears rolled down his cheeks as Mark thought of her charred little body inside the tiny coffin and the pain she must have endured in the fire. She didn’t deserve to die.
Mark felt a warm hand on his shoulder. Straightening with his crutches, he leaned into his grandmother’s arms. “Go ahead and cry,” she said. “It’s good to let it out.”
Mark leaned down and laid his cheek in the hollow of her neck. He could smell her sweet, old ladies perfume. “Why?” he asked. “Why didn’t God protect them? Why did He let Sabrina die and not me? She didn’t even get a chance to live her life.” He turned away and tightened his fists on the crutch’s handgrip.
He felt his grandmother’s warm fingers turn his chin. “Mark, I know this is hard for you. It’s hard for me too and it will be hard on Amy when she comes home.” His grandmother choked on her words then blotted her eyes with her hankie, “if she does. Son, we don’t always understand why He allows things like this to happen, but my mother always told me, ‘what we see today as a tragedy, we may look back at tomorrow as a blessing.’” Emily hugged him tighter and stroked his hair.
“A blessing? How can losing almost my entire family ever be a blessing?” Mark huffed and pulled away. His head throbbed even more. Then looking back at his grandmother, he said, “If I ever find out who caused the accident, I swear… I’ll… I’ll kill him…. I promise that.”
“No, Mark. Don’t think like that. It was just that, an accident. You need to forgive them.”
“I can’t, Grandma. I just can’t.”
1560. One chronicle; two stories; three cities; four journeys. This is the second volume in the Borderer Chronicles series.
Four men of dedication, motivated by their own devotion, take different journeys to the same city. A steadfast man, by way of siege; a noble man, by way of melancholia put aside for dalliance and duty; a godly man, by way of loss and self-discovery; and a vain and sinful man by way of guile. All travel to deal with a master of prominence; a devil within a guild of secrets.
All four men will face the Devil, but who will be the man to defeat him, the steadfast man, the noble man, the godly man, or the sinful man? Who best could play the Devil’s game and win?
A sweeping adventure and mystery novel set against one of the trials of the Scottish Reformation, the Siege of Leith, and the intrigues within the commercial heart of Sixteenth Century Europe, Antwerp.
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