what do we really know of jessica harkness?
In short, not much.
We know she met Alf Boxall a couple of times at the Clifton Gardens hotel. We know she gave him a hardcover, inscribed copy of the Rubaiyat at one of those meetings.
We also know when Gerry Feltus interviewed her years later and asked her a few questions about Alf, Jessica said she had no recollection of ever meeting him.
We know that in the 40’s Jessica was a nurse (in training) at the Royal North Shore Hospital at St. Leonards, which is about 10 kilometres distant from the hotel.
We know that on at least one of these meetings with Alf she was accompanied by Heather Musgrave (nee Morris) who was married to Tom Musgrave.
We know that Lieutenant Alf Boxall and Lieutenant Tom Musgrave were colleagues who both worked as Engineers at the Georges Head Army Water base in the 40’s.
We know that in the 40’s Heather Musgrave was a nurse at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown, which is about 20 kilometres from the Clifton Gardens hotel.
This meant that for all four of them to meet at the Clifton Gardens, Tom and Alf had to walk up the hill from the Army base, Jess either drove or caught a bus from St. Leonards and Heather would have taken at least an hour to get there after travelling from Camperdown, through the city and over the Harbour Bridge.
That’s a lot of travelling for a few ‘quick snorts and away.’
Then again, maybe not.
The Officers quarters (above) at Middle Head is a Victorian Regency style building that was built on a rough stone base. It was designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet and is considered to be one of the most significant buildings at Middle Head. The site incorporates a defensive ditch or moat and includes a fortification wall. The house looking in the direction of Middle Harbour meant that it could be used for surveillance purposes as well. (Wikipedia)
During World War II this building served as a Red Cross Hospital for the care of soldiers convalescing from their wounds after the fighting in New Guinea. Soldiers who were transported from Sydneys’ major hospitals, including the Royal North Shore and Royal Prince Alfred.
By bus, taxi or ambulance.
With attendant nursing care.
Heather and Jessica.
Now we have everyone working within a kilometre of each other.
Now we can call up Mr Gordon Cramer an ask him what secrets Alf might have learnt whilst working at the Water Base, secrets he wrote in miniature code in a copy of the Rubaiyat before passing it to Jessica.
Then we can look at what the Musgraves might have been doing before they left for Queensland, and whether one of the meetings with Jess and Alf at the Clifton Gardens was a handover.
Stuart Littlemore to Alf Boxall from the ABC documentary series.
“So she (Jessica) couldn’t have known about your involvement with Intelligence?”
A measured, five second pause from Alf.
“Only if someone else told her.”
The Bookmaker from Rabaul is a confounding mixture of fact and fiction, so much so that the reader will not be able to tell whether he or she is coming or going.