It took no great feat to occupy the time that spanned from the earliest years of the twentieth century to near its end. It took no great heroism to be mere witness to the cataclysmic events that changed the political and strategic climate that came to define the world we know today. 

Martin Rellim, freedom loving and devoted to family and country, lived those years. 

Martin was a brilliant mechanical and aeronautical engineer with a focused, disciplined, high work ethic. He was an innovator, an organiser and of equal importance a Mr Fix-It. 

When the danger of Japanese expansion through 1930 to 1945 threatened Australia’s strategic position and physical existence, Martin’s expertise played a vital role in guaranteeing that the Australian Air Force triumphed in the Battle for Australia. 

That expertise made Martin even more vulnerable after WWII as the Cold War strategies of the USSR and the West altered the world map. Martin was a prize desperately coveted by the Soviets. 

The determination of the Soviets to ‘acquire’ Martin is the thread that ties the story of one man’s amazing life together – a life that did more than bear witness. 

In Store Price: $AU25.95 
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ISBN: 978-1-921731-63-1
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 210
Genre: Fiction


Author: Jack Rellim
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2011
Language: English



Jack Rellim, the author, was born in Sydney, Australia in 1943 during The Battle for Australia, World War Two and lived through the Cold War. 

He graduated from St Mary’s Cathedral Boys’ High School, Sydney, Australia with the Leaving Certificate, joining Her Majesty’s Customs Service in 1963. Jack served in the State of New South Wales at Port Jackson, Port Kembla, Port Botany, SKS Mascot Airport and Richmond Air Force Base. 

Marriage, raising three children and an active sports involvement in tennis, surfing and handball ensured an energetic living environment. 

He resigned from HM Customs in 1976 to become a successful property developer. 

A love of history, a service record in investigative duties, and a passion for writing provided a solid foundation for him to launch his new career as a novelist specialising in Australian-orientated suspense thrillers.


The dark clouds of history had begun to gather. In the years and months preceding the Second World War, places that provided a safe haven from the coming storm were few and far between – and becoming fewer and farther between with each passing day. So it was that in the spring of 1938 a kind of critical mass of variables began to bring home to Australia, to Martin Rellim, the danger that lay ahead: 

In Germany – the Munich Conference is a triumph for Adolf Hitler. Britain and France betray alliance, trust and assurance delivering de facto control of

Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany.

– Hitler sanctions the annexation of lands formerly a part of  Czechoslovakia by Poland and Hungary.

  German scientists split the uranium atom. 

In France, the Government orders a partial mobilisation of the armed forces.

 In Britain, the Government orders the mobilisation of the fleet. 

In America, Congress passes the ‘cash and carry’ amendment to the Neutrality Act of 1937 at the behest of President Roosevelt.

In Spain,  the Civil War enters its third year.

In Italy,  Mussolini commits 40,000 troops to the Ebro offensive in Spain. The subjugation of Libya and  East Africa continues.

In Manchukuo, Soviet and Japanese troops clash at Lake Khasan. 

In China,  the provisional capital, Wuhan, is under siege by Japanese forces. Japan denies right of passage on the Yangtze River to American vessels. Japanese aircraft and artillery sink two Royal Navy ships on the Yangtze.

In the Dutch East Indies, a Japanese delegation insists that oil exports to Japan be increased and encourages the Dutch East Indies Colonial Government to accept Japan’s ‘co-prosperity vision and policy’ for South East Asia.

 In Australia, Prime Minister Lyons announces a ban on the export of iron ore to Japan. Defence Minister Street announces the immediate construction of two new destroyers, the establishment of an RAAF base at Townsville and the fortification of the Port Moresby Naval and Air Force bases. 

In Japan, the Government requests that the Nine Power Treaty, signed Washington 1922, ensuring China’s self-rule be revised as “…the new situation in China demands a different bias among the signatories. Japan deserves to enjoy a unique position in Asia, given her new responsibilities.” 

Japan’s position was not well received in Australia. Commentary on 2GB Macquarie Radio was unyielding in its criticism. “The gall of Japan!” the editorials assert. “How dare she demand a revision of the Washington treaty! Their having new responsibilities is claptrap. She invaded Manchuria and then China to seize their natural resources; pure and simple as that. Will South East Asia and/or Australia be next?

The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and, later, the London Naval Treaties of 1930 and 1936, banned certain types of warships and placed limitations on tonnage and quantity on other warships. Japan has arrogantly violated the spirit of these treaties and nears the completion of many ‘prohibited’ warships. Once that Navy is complete, it will join a proven Army and Air Force to pose a genuine risk to the entire Pacific. The Japanese psyche is, at base, militaristic. In true Samurai tradition, ‘conquest is in her blood’.” 


Early in September 1938, at a 5am Defence Headquarters’ meeting in Melbourne, Stuart Ashton, the Director of Military Intelligence briefed John Gregory, Special Coordinator for the Office of the Prime Minister, on the current situation.

Germany has been picking away at Europe since Hitler became Fuhrer in 1934. It has remilitarised the Rhineland, annexed Austria and expropriated the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. The Treaty of Versailles is dead and buried.”

   Gregory, Oxford educated, 6’ tall and 13 stone, a full head of hair and piercing eyes (and rarely having to call attention to his martial arts’ expertise) remained silent as Ashton, a fellow Oxford man and as physically imposing as Gregory, spoke of German scientific and military experimentation with liquid fuel rockets and antipodal hybrid bombers.

He detailed the modernity of the Luftwaffe, and observed, not without a note of envy, that it was being ‘battle-hardened at the expense of the Spaniards.’

The Wehrmacht had been deceitfully, though cunningly, re-manned and rearmed.

The Kriegsmarine had been commissioning new submarines and capital surface ships “for defensive purposes,” he added, with a tone of derision in his voice.

The British had their hands full in Europe, concentrating their Expeditionary Force in France, while increasing their naval presence in the Mediterranean. The RAF was modernising but lagged behind the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica in number of aircraft and experienced pilots.

The bulk of the French fleet was stationed in the Mediterranean. The Indo-China squadron, a token force, was stationed in Saigon. The French Army and Air Force remained hunkered down on home soil.

American forces were stretched thin from the Philippines to Hawaii to Midway and the Aleutians. The Dutch were similarly stretched throughout the Dutch East Indies. Worse, their weaponry was outdated and dilapidated.

The Malay Peninsular Ground Defence was predominately drawn from Commonwealth Forces. It lacked tanks, modern artillery, spare parts and ammunition. A single, united command was imaginary, while the loyalty of the Indian troops was actively questioned, given India’s push for Independence.

Aircraft from the RAF, RAAF and Dutch Air Force make up the Malay Peninsular Air Defence. Its Buffalo Fighters and Blenheim Bombers are obsolete and are no match for any invader. It lacked a workable command structure, sufficient spare parts and trained pilots.

Singapore’s Naval Fortress was nearing completion but the promised ‘Far Eastern Fleet’ was little more than a pipe dream.

Ashton concluded with this sombre assessment; “We predict the formation of a German, Italian and Japanese alliance in the very near future.”

Gregory listened attentively and then, almost imperceptibly, nodded his head. He rose from his chair and extended his hand to Ashton. “Thank you, Stuart,” he said, firmly gripping the Director of Military Intelligence’s hand. “I’ll brief the Prime Minister.”

As he walked away, he couldn’t shake the feeling that the winds of war had reached gale force and that the looming battle was soon to be upon them.

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