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The Harkness years, from 1945 to 1949


On 8 May 1945 Australians celebrated the unconditional surrender of German forces to the Allied powers. Then watched as the European Theatre’s wounded and emaciated ex Prisoners-of-War were shipped home in their thousands.

On 15 August 1945 Australians rejoiced again when Japan surrendered to the Allies, ending WW2. Then watched again as the Pacific Theatre’s wounded and starved ex Prisoners-of-War were shipped home in their thousands.

You can imagine how many cases the hospitals handled in this time, how busy their nurses, how anguished their days as the beds were emptied of their dead and filled with the dying.


Sydney was overcome by returning soldiers: Kings Cross a battle ground, Americans and Australians, booze and broads. Cocaine and prostitution, black-markets on every corner.

A young nurse at one of Sydney’s largest hospitals falls pregnant. She leaves her job and travels to her parent’s home in another state.


The nurse travels on to South Australia where she has the child and begins a relationship with another man.


A detective, unannounced, knocks on her front door and asks if she knew of any reason why the telephone number of the house she was living in was written on the back of a Rubaiyat connected to the death of an unidentified man found two hundred yards away.

The nurse responded immediately by remembering all the details of the day in 1945 she gave a casual acquaintance – a married man nearly twice her age – a copy of the Rubaiyat when they met in a hotel.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    The thought, that won’t go away in my mind, is with so much going on from 1945 onwards. The fact thatJessie could instantly remember Alf and giving him a copy of the Rubaiyat. My way of thinking is that Alf must have been far more involved in her life, than just someone she gave a book to.

    July 14, 2019

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