The earliest work of Idriess that I possess is the first book he had published: the 1927 edition of Madman's Island by Cornstalk. I was intrigued when I got it by the name and date of an owner on the inside cover - see the photo (a different name and address was on the next blank page). At first I thought the name was J C Poltri (it's amazing how often this comes up as "Poultry", even when you try and apply Google filters!). But eventually I tried Pottie, and - bingo! - there was a J C Pottie in Sydney (as the bookshop stamp and the other address had suggested) at about this date. John Campbell Pottie. This was confirmed by the date under the name - 10-6-27 - J C Pottie's 15th birthday. So it is likely that he was given this book on his birthday, or that he bought it on his birthday (perhaps with birthday money). I'm not sure how much the book initially sold for (it was later remaindered for 6d according to Beverley Eley), but the title and cover may have attracted this 15 year old - perhaps shades of Robinson Crusoe! The date suggests that this copy is early (it was first published in April - or perhaps late May) and may have been one of the 300 sold (Eley, p.104) out of 2200 (Feain and Aroney, p.70) or "probably less than 2000" (Idriess.Info): the rest were remaindered.
So, who was this John Campbell Pottie (see his photo - left) who bought Ion Idriess's first book when he was just fifteen? Pottie was born 10-6-12 and it is possible that as Ion Idriess was in north Queensland about this time, that Idriess travelled past Howick Island, the scene of his later marooning and the basis for his subsequent Madman's Island story, that same year. J C Pottie was the grandson of John Pottie, the noted veterinarian (he has an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography) and his practice became John Pottie and Sons (ironically located at one time at 232 Castlereagh St, just down from Angus and Robertson). When WWII broke out, Pottie joined the RAAF and became a Pilot Officer. On a raid on the 15th July 1942 over Benghazi (El Alamein) Libya in a Liberator II bomber as part of 159 Squadron, Pottie's plane was shot down (probably by flak) and Pottie and all his crew perished - Killed in Action. He was just 30 years old. His brother Norman Charles, also with the RAAF in the Middle East (he was a Flying Officer) tried desperately to find out if Pottie had somehow survived; but it was not to be.
At this time Pottie was married to one Norma Beatrice: the loss must have been devastating, but a year later she re-married - to a Mr Bertie. I wonder if his family thought she moved on too quickly!
Vale, John Campbell Pottie, war hero and onetime reader of Idriess. Now if I can only find out who R A Baker, of 136 Beamish St Campsie (the other owner's name on my copy), is, or was, that would be interesting as well, no doubt!