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boxall and harkness: the odd couple

Alfred and Jessica.

Picture them seated at a secluded table in the beer garden of the Clifton Gardens Hotel on a warm summer evening of dinner, drinks and laughter.

Waiter, if you please – another bottle of Dom, and more oysters.’

At the close of the evening Jessica gave Alf an inscribed book of verse: a gift soldiers sometimes gave their wives when they went to war. Or a wife to her husband.

A rubaiyat, inscribed with a meaningful, regretful verse.

With this scenario you could queue in Andre Rieu and massed violins.

Looking at those two you would be humming Love is in the Air.

Alf Boxall

16 October 1946 – emplaned Rabaul.

18 October 1946 – deplaned Brisbane.


21 January  1947  – joined the Crusader.

Jessica Harkness

October 1946 – pregnant.

Boxall was demobbed from his SWPA* unit and sent south, back to Sydney for leave and to await reassignment. It was during this time he met Jessica at the Clifton Gardens Hotel and she gave him an inscribed (verse 70) copy of the rubaiyat.

*South West Pacific Area – as defined by General MacArthur



Andre Rieu, laying it down.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. ellen #

    I’m confused. The meeting at Clifton Gardens took place in August of ’45. Isn’t that winter for you Aussies? Who is Andre Rieu?

    May 18, 2016
  2. Clive #

    Andre Rieu? A well known European on the fiddle, sorry I meant he plays the violin!

    May 20, 2016
  3. ellen #

    Because there was an Andrey……connected to Dorothy Gwen Graham….
    According to a Sydney newspaper,
    She had met Hellmut in January 1944 until October when she became interested in a man named Andrey who got into trouble in December and whom she discontinued seeing. She then took up with Lorenzo (George) Marshall in May 1945 whom she knew from before and in a few months gave her 200 pounds. Later they both turned up victims of suicide.
    I always wondered who the mysterious Andrey was and why he had no last name.

    May 20, 2016
    • If what you are putting together was a hanging mosaic I’d buy a print. Remember the old line? ‘Howabout coming upstairs and seeing some of my etchings.’
      I’ve got one – you wanna see it?

      May 20, 2016
  4. ellen #

    I’d love to see your etchings because you are on the level and because I find you interesting. On the other hand, you have to admit that Prosper’s friends were a tad shady.

    Here is a young lady, connected to Hellmut and Prosper; whose landlord wants her out due to the many swains in and out of the apartment: who is frequently named in the newspaper, whose boyfriend is in some type of trouble but is so prominent the newspaper won’t give his last name; and in the space of a couple of months finagles 200 pounds from a traumatic brain injured celebrity…..who dies mysteriously. Want a piece of candy, little boy?

    May 21, 2016
  5. I wasn’t kidding .. this is an early plotline.

    May 21, 2016
  6. ellen #

    Who’s the seducer and who’s the seductee? Boxall or Jessica?

    May 21, 2016
  7. Byron Deveson #

    I noted on page 11 of “Curtin’s Cowboys: Australia’s secret bush commandos” (2nd edition 1992) that “Preference will be given to men with the following additional qualifications. 1. Signal training. 2. Intelligence training. 3. Ability to handle, with skill, rifle, light machine gun, grenade.

    It seems that, unlike other units, there was no intelligence office to debrief the Nackeroos (which is understandable), and they made their own assessments and sent these by radio to headquarters. It isn’t spelled out where the reports went, but radio reports were enciphered (page 11). “… the majority of their work in Northern Australia was to be in the form of coded messages sent by morse code – radio telephony. (page 11). Unfortunately there are no details of the type of encipherment used. Somebody should ask one of the surviving members of the Nackeroos what enciphering schemes were used.

    There are no enciphering machines listed among the equipment provided to the Nackeroos (page 13) so I assume that pen and paper enciphering methods were used.

    May 23, 2016
  8. Don’t get to carried away on desired skills for recruitment for nackaroos. They were basically coastwatchers with limited but adequate means to communicate with the addition of bush skills. Alf was not well versed on anything so hi-tech as sophisticated naval codes and simple m.orse would have been about his limit. Also his stint in New Guinea (post war) related to de commissioning military equipment and contrary to speculation would have had little or nothing to đô with intelligence. In my view there has never been any real evidence of this simple chap being anything more than a pretty good mechanic who liked to have a bit of fluff on the side and didn’t mind flouting his brevit promotion to get it. He most likely scored with little Tyna andgood for him.The book of ‘polms’ was kept most likely as a trophy to his conquest and nothing more than that which of course does not exclude the possibility that it may have been used previously to communicate the thoughts of other people. As for the coding in the S.M’s copy there appears to be a late runic flavour in some of the lettering which I have not seen mentioned before notablly the letters W, the Nazi S, the I and the funny little C. Being new to this site and to this means of intercourse I apologise if I’m being repetitious. After all the means of a successful eventual outcome to this ageless Dilemma may well come about by raking over s few seemingly cold old embers.

    May 26, 2016
  9. By all means, John Sanders, carry on.

    May 26, 2016
  10. ellen #

    Everyone assumes that Jessica and Boxall were romantic. Jessica was considerably younger than Boxall. She was also much younger than SM. Despite the movies, most young women are attracted to their own age group, unless there is an angle. I know there was a war but most accounts point to a lot of male immigrants. Unless she was a “honeypot” I can’t understand what she would be doing with a man (who wasn’t wealthy) and twenty years her senior…absent or distant father for a father fixation perhaps.

    May 27, 2016
  11. I recall Byron alluding to Jo having been born and or raised overseas. If not she certainly seems to have been kept in wraps until her nursing career started at the ripe old age of 24 circa 45.Seems to be some Merritt to this possibility. No mention of her speaking with an accent but daughter Kate talks about her Russian and French which I suppose she could have picked up in a Jewish kibbutz and perhaps a little yiddish along with her tanakh studies. Could she also have done her initiation course in Singapore which is a more likely place to have adopted for her Jestyn cover name and execution of the Marshall plan.

    May 28, 2016
  12. Clive #

    Hi John, I can understand where you’re coming from with regard to Alf and intelligence work but, Gordon Cramer ( has shown that the figure ’70’ was hiding micro-writing and that figure itself was written on Alf’s copy of ROK page after 1978. At the time Jessie gave Alf the copy of the ROK, with the inscribed poem, perhaps she gave it to Alf for him to decipher?

    May 28, 2016
  13. ellen #

    That’s right. We have no history of Jessica before her nurse training and Russian is a difficult language to just pick up. Singapore would further tie her to the Marshall family.

    May 28, 2016
  14. Clive and all. The graphic image on the back of the Unknown Man book shows the Children’s Hospital, the standard pic that I would think we are all familiar with. However, the image on the back has another building or rather, an extension of the second building to the left. I have never seen an image that has that extra detail even though it would be the same pic, just more on it.

    Of note is the fact that there was and maybe still is a pathway leading down to the beach almost opposite that building which would have been far easier to negotiate if you were manhandling another to the beach. Certainly far easier than the steps.

    Does anyone have any information on that second building?

    May 29, 2016
  15. FC Is there any way to better hi-light your results for we mere mortals without stuffing the focus up. I’m almost a believer and you deserve a Daley M or Brownlow for your efforts but yes but I still can’t see a blasted thing. By the way what sort of instrument would one prefer to use in micro writing, how long would it take to complete a set and where would the translation be done. With the C23 detail for instance would that be assessed before being redirected upwards in another code form or would it go off in the plain and to where . Seems as though the CÁC had gone ahead in leaps and bounds since the old Wirraway days and how could one forget the X15 Kangaroo now that would have given those godless commies a fright in Korea but alas.

    May 29, 2016
  16. JS, I have just posted a close up and cropped version which is an improvement, have to tell you that it can take some hours work to get the best result. You can use a 5H or similar pencil to create micro writing or you could use a crow quill pen or even sharpened bamboo or a matchstick. The kind of microcode you see on the code page, given that you have the plain text version available to you, would take about 10 minutes max for the letter Q for example.

    My thoughts are that the so called, ‘crossed out’ line and the two lines through the centre actually contain the full set of microcode letters which were transcribed from a radio transmission. There is also code within the ‘flourish’ at the bottom of the page. These codes were then sorted according to the Pro Sign method across and into the letters you see on the code page.

    The second line is therefore not a crossed out line, when you examine it closely, you can see that the line of microcode lies behind the larger ‘letters’ which in turn contain coded information.

    As for where it may have been de-coded, I would think it would have to have been in a more formal setting than was the case for the receipt of the information.

    The work done on the CA 23 was impressive, bear in mind that Australia had its fair share of German designers experienced in Jet aircraft design available to them. There would be little doubt that Australians were attached to design teams in the UK that had been working on the Meteor and Vampire jets since around 1942, just after the Glocester Whittle jet. The information on the CA 23 within the code was allotted to be sent to ‘Q’ whoever that may have been. There is more information within the Q on the left side, hard to get to but it will no doubt be revealed at some stage.

    Hope that helps.

    May 30, 2016

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