I have three copies of The Silent Service (1944) and I like them all - for different reasons. One is in excellent condition with no names, marks or foxing and it has a dust jacket also in good nick. The other two don't have dust jackets and are in not quite so good a condition - but still pretty good. But I find these two the more interesting. One is signed by both Torpedo-man T. M. Jones and Idriess. I would be interested to know how common that was. Do you have a copy signed by both? It was war-time - 1944. Did TM Jones get special leave to sit with Idriess (at Angus and Robertson, Sydney?) signing books?
The Silent Service seems to have been part of the war effort: a boost for morale; propaganda if you like. It has, indeed, a foreword by the Minister for the Navy. Beverley Eley, Ion Idriess, p.321, notes that 4 copies were rushed into print, "so that one could be presented to Vice-Admiral William Halsy prior to the sea attack on Japanese-held Bougainville." I wonder if that copy still exists. Anyone?
This seems to have been Idriess's only true collaboration and I wonder whose idea it was to do a joint effort. I also wonder how Idriess and Jones got on? Well enough, it seems, to produce this book in remarkably quick time. Jones was already the author of two books, Watchdogs of the Sea and Sons of the Sea, (Beverley, p.321) and by this time Idriess had published over two dozen books. If the stories came more from Jones, it was Idriess who was the more well known.
My other copy is interesting for this fact: it has the inscription, "Lieutenant Commander A Greening RAN 24 Wilsden St North Walkerville." Actually it just has "Lt Cdr." Lieutenant Commander who, you ask? Greening was Arthur Charles Greening who was based in Adelaide in the 1940's (North Walkerville is an Adelaide suburb). In November 1940 the German raider Pinguin had laid mines near Kangaroo Island. On 12 July 1941 one of these mines was found by a fisherman near Robe and actually towed to a beach near Beachport. Greening, though not particularly trained for it, led an RMS (Render Mines Safe) party to disarm the mine, consisting of Greening and Able Seamen William Danswan and Thomas Todd.
On 14th July they placed charges to detonate the mine. They also seemed to have man-handled the mine up the beach. In any case, they had laid cables to an electric exploder, but there was a misfire. Danswan and Todd went to check and the mine exploded, killing both seamen. It was thought a wave had rolled the mine, breaking its (detonation) horn and setting the mine off. These two men are believed to be the first Australian casualties on Australian soil of WWII. Greening was reprimanded, but largely exonerated due to his lack of training and experience in RMS. In 1944 his wife gave him this copy of The Silent Service. She wrote on the front inside map: "To My Dear Hubby With All My Love. Ad. 15.8.1944."