Two Restless Spirits: Harry Hawker & Bert Hinkler

Advance notice of author talk 18 June 2022

Drawing on selected images from across the world, in this personal presentation Brisbane-based author D R (Darryl) Dymock compares the spectacular but very different life journeys and tragic endings of two remarkable Australian aviation pioneers: Harry Hawker and Bert Hinkler.

Saturday 18 June 2pm -3pm, St Matthews Church Hall,

cnr Sherwood & Oxley Rds Sherwood, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Books for sale on the day

Can’t make it to the talk? You can still order both books through any bookshop, including Avid Reader, Brisbane and Riverbend Books, Brisbane, Queensland. Or download the e-book online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, or check out ABE Books in the US.

Print ISBN: 9781925380415

e-book ISBN: 9781925380453

While other Nashos were fighting in Vietnam, Australian Army quietly sent conscripted Education Taskforce to PNG

We had a great State Library (SLQ) session on Sunday morning 29 May 2022 at Anzac Square Memorial Galleries, Brisbane. Four other ‘Chalkies‘ and I recalled our experiences as conscripted Army teachers in Papua New Guinea 1966-73.

An amazing selection of images from the time, professionally assembled by Mt Nebo Multimedia. Terrific backup from SLQ’s Alice and Greg.

The author, centre, with other National Service recruits, 3 Training Battalion, Singleton, NSW, early 1969
Troops of 1 Pacific Islands Regiment, Education class, Taurama Barracks, TPNG, c1970
Trooping the Colour, Taurama Barracks, TPNG, c1968

Thanks to librarian India Dixon, the videos will be added to the State Library of Queensland resource collection as part of their military memories program.

This is the book of the videos!

Until next time

Darryl Dymock

Harry Hawker the movie?: ‘A grand narrative set in marvellous locations’

Readers are responding very positively to my latest book, A Great and Restless Spirit: the incredible true story of Harry Hawker.

One of them told me it was ‘a grand narrative set in marvellous locations’, and suggested it would make a great movie.

‘a grand narrative set in marvellous locations’

The other good news, especially for regional and international readers, is that ‘A Great and Restless Spirit’ is now available as an e-book.

Print ISBN: 9781925380415

Print copy available from Avid Reader bookshop, Brisbane, Australia or you can order it through any other good bookshop.

e-book ISBN: 9781925380453

Already the e-book is available in different formats, including:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=9781925380453&crid=2IQ7IAR0RW49A&sprefix=9781925380453%2Caps%2C1358&ref=nb_sb_noss

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-great-and-restless-spirit-darryl-r-dymock/1141254251?ean=9781925380453

Keep an eye out for the movie!

Until next time

Darryl Dymock

‘When a full 24 hours had passed without any contact, no one had to say what that meant …’ – Exclusive book extract

Exclusive extract from ‘A Great and Restless Spirit’ by D R Dymock:

Unaware of the mid-ocean drama, Muriel continued to mark off the hours Harry had been in the air. As the day went on, she began to prepare to head over to Brooklands, hopeful she would soon be reunited with her husband. There was quiet anticipation among the Sopwith representatives, military officers, and government and aero club officials gathered at Brooklands that Monday afternoon, 19 May, 1919. It promised to be a momentous occasion for the future of cross-Atlantic travel and for British aviation.

Muriel and her brother, RAF Captain Laurence Peaty, had driven over from Hook in the Sunbeam. Word had come through that the American fliers were trapped in the Azores by the weather, so NC-4 had not yet been able to make the final hop. There was still a possibility that Harry and Grieve could claim the transatlantic gong.

Nevertheless there was also an undercurrent of anxiety about the two fliers. No messages had been received; no sightings reported. Based on the reported Sunday departure time from Newfoundland, by Muriel’s 22-hour timeline the Atlantic should touch down at Brooklands at around 4.30pm. Unlike some others, she wasn’t worried by the lack of contact with the plane because she knew Harry and Grieve weren’t counting on the wireless during the flight.

But as the afternoon ticked by, concern started to grow. The Royal Air Force sent planes out from its Aldergrove base in Ireland to probe along the transatlantic route, but the pilots came back with nothing to report.

When Muriel crossed off hour number 22, and there was still no sign of the plane, the tension among the waiting group must have been palpable. They all knew that by then the Sopwith’s fuel tank would be close to empty. When a full 24 hours had passed without any contact, no one had to say what that meant.

Title: A Great and Restless Spirit: The incredible true story of Harry Hawker, Australian test pilot, aircraft designer, car racing driver, speedboat racer, world-beater

Author: D R Dymock

ISBN: 9781925380415

Publisher: Armour Books, Brisbane

RRP: AU$33.99 paperback

Publication date: March 2022

A poet and a king thought this pilot was dead, but …

High-profile mystery plane crashes have confounded and intrigued the world since flight began – but this dramatic true story was the first.

A Great And Restless Spirit by D R Dymock tells of the disappearance of record-breaking Australian pilot Harry Hawker and his navigator over the Atlantic Ocean in 1919… and of how kings and nations were captivated by the event. The book has just been released.

A transatlantic feat

In May 1919, 30-year-old Harry Hawker and his navigator attempted the first transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland, and in a plane with no radio or radar.

Millions waited for news of their triumph – but the plane never arrived. After six days, and with no sightings or leads, almost everyone gave them up for dead. Banjo Paterson wrote a eulogy for Harry’s passing. King George V sent Harry’s English wife, Muriel Hawker, a telegram of condolence. But Muriel refused to believe her husband was dead.

If things don’t go quite right, never give up hope, Harry had told Muriel before he left. She took him at his word.

‘As there seemed to be two sides to the question whether he was alive or not, and no definite proof of either,’ Muriel said, ‘I decided I’d cling firmly to the belief that he was alive.’

An extraordinary life

Muriel Hawker’s faith in her daredevil husband had reaped rewards before. Harry’s ‘need for speed’ made him a fierce competitor in car and speedboat races around the globe and, when he wasn’t racing, Harry designed and tested WWI planes.

His boss, aviation guru Tommy Sopwith, believed Harry was a genius – but Muriel kept her husband’s feet firmly on the ground. Would this remarkable woman’s hope be rewarded this time, too?

In A Great and Restless Spirit, author D R  Dymock tells the incredible true story of Harry Hawker MBE AFC and the woman who refused to give up on him.

About the author: D R (Darryl) Dymock (author site) is the Brisbane-based author of several well-received non-fiction books, including Hustling Hinkler and The Chalkies. This is his second aviation biography. He is a mentor with the Queensland Writers Centre, and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University.

About the book:

Armour Books, Brisbane | AU$33.99 paperback | ISBN: 9781925380415

Available through Avid Reader Bookshop, Brisbane or order through any other good bookshop.

Countdown to a Great and Restless book launch

Here’s A Great and Restless Spirit in good company for March events at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane.

A Great and Restless Spirit will be launched at Avid Reader at 6.30pm AEST on Friday 25th March, 2022. And you’re invited! In person, or online.

All you have to do is click on this link to register for the launch. You can also pre-order the book (ISBN 9781925380415. Armour Books)

Here’s an extract from A Great and Restless Spirit to whet your reading appetite:

Outside, the weather matched their mood as they set off—sombre, dark and cold. The wind was whipping the trees around their house, and the rain danced in the headlights as they headed to Euston Station. For some reason, despite the almost cyclonic conditions, Harry opted to take the Sunbeam.

The big car might well have had a neatly riveted bonnet, but it also had no hood over the passenger compartment. So, as they roared through deserted London streets in drenching rain slashed by an occasional knife edge of sleet, Harry crouched behind the whisper of a windscreen.

Muriel hunched in the well on the passenger side, her head resting against her husband’s knee. She quietly wished that she’d married someone without ambition, like a farmer’s son. Someone who didn’t feel the need to go where no man had ever gone before. If only I could sleep away the time ahead, she thought.

When they reached Euston station, they had one final hug, said one final goodbye. As Harry disappeared into the carriage, Muriel was inconsolable. She couldn’t wait for the train to pull out.

Heading disconsolately back to the car, all she could think was that Harry had gone from her. The only thing she could do was wait for the future to unfold itself.

Book launch 25 March: A Great and Restless Spirit


Harry Hawker MBE AFC (1889-1921) Image: George Grantham Bain Collection., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dear friends and colleagues near and far

If you’re free and in the vicinity, I’d love to see you at the Brisbane launch of my new book on Friday evening, 25 March, 2022. (Covid permitting!).

The book is called A Great and Restless Spirit: The incredible true story of Australian Harry Hawker – test pilot, aircraft designer, racing car driver, speedboat racer, world-beater.

It will be published by an independent Brisbane publisher, Armour Books.

If Victorian-born Harry Hawker MBE AFC (1889-1921) was alive today, he’d be churning desert dust in the Dakar rally, strapped in a rocket on a SpaceX flight, or taking pole position on the Formula 1 start line.


Harry Hawker helped design and test numerous successful wartime aircraft in Britain in WWI. He was also a a master of looping the loop.
  • Hawker moved to England at age 22, and in his day flew faster, higher and for longer than anyone else in Britain. His one need was speed. And if he couldn’t find it in the air, he was a fierce competitor in racing cars and international speedboat races.
  • When he wasn’t racing, Hawker was designing and testing WWI planes. His boss, aviation guru Tommy Sopwith, was convinced the Australian was a genius.
  • In the book you’ll also meet Harry’s remarkable wife, Muriel, who mostly kept his feet on the ground. But even she worried about his need to go where no man had ever gone before.
  • And in the background there bubbled away an underlying weakness that would eventually contribute to Harry Hawker’s death in a flaming solo plane crash. He was just 32 years of age.

When he wasn’t in the air, Harry took to car and speedboat racing. Image: Copyright Brooklands Museum.

I hope you might be able to join me for the launch of A Great and Restless Spirit at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane at 6.30pm on 25 March. It should be a good occasion, and there’s no obligation to buy😊.

Please put the date in your diary. You’ll be able to register nearer the time on the Avid Reader website: avidreader.com.au

And if you’re not from Brisbane, please keep watch for the book’s publication. I hope it will be available in both print and electronic form.

Please feel free to pass this message on, or to post it on social media. All welcome.

Best regards

Darryl Dymock

Chalkies book launched

A sizeable and enthusiastic crowd gathered at Avid Reader Bookshop, Brisbane, on 8 October, 2016 to hear Colonel Katrina Schildberger launch my book, The Chalkies: Educating an army for independence.

It’s amazing how many will turn up when free wine and nibbles are on offer 🙂 Everyone I’ve spoken to said they had a good time, and lots of books were sold.

Colonel Schildberger is Head of the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps, and travelled from Sydney for the occasion. She gave a great speech to launch the book.

The Chalkies tells the little-known story of some 300 teachers who were conscripted into the Australian Army between 1996 and 1972 and quietly sent to the then Territory of Papua New Guinea while Australian troops were fighting in Vietnam. It is published by Australian Scholarly Press, Melbourne.

The conscripted teachers, colloquially known as ‘Chalkies’, were posted to the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps, and their task was to upgrade the educational levels of indigenous troops of the Pacific Islands Regiment in what turned out to be critical years leading up to the country’s independence. For many it was their first year of teaching and their first time out of Australia.

The Director of Army Education at the time, Brigadier Ernest Gould, described the initiative as ‘an educational scheme which for magnitude, scope, intensity and enlightenment is without parallel in military history’.

Yet most Australians have never heard about it.

With the aid of an Army History Research Grant, I drew on the recollections of more than 70 former Chalkies and archival sources to tell the story of how these conscripted teachers (one of whom was me) responded to the challenges of a life most of them never wanted or imagined for themselves. A small go group of ex-Chalkies gave me feedback on my research to help keep me on track.

It was very appropriate that Colonel Schildberger launched the book, because not only is 1966 the 50th anniversary of the scheme’s beginnings in PNG, it is also the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Army Education in World War II.

The jacket blurb says The Chalkies is ‘a unique tale of the good, the bad and the unexpected, told against the background of military and political developments of the day’.

A former Australian Governor-General, Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery, who served two terms in PNG, wrote the foreword.

If you’re interested in reading The Chalkies, in Australia you can order a copy through your local bookstore, or direct from Avid Reader Bookshop in Brisbane. Alternatively, you could ask your local library to buy a copy. The ISBN is 978-1-925333-77-0.

Till next time

Darryl Dymock

 

What writers say

By the time you have perfected any style of writing, you have always outgrown it.                                                                                                                 ~George Orwell