To: The Rodds, Crescent Road, Newport. NSW 2106 Australia
Just heard the 'Orcades' was battered a bit off Western Australia, I hope Tabitha is okay.* We are a bit worried, if you've heard please write to us in the U.S.A. by 10th July when we arrive, c/o K.B.Evans, P.O. Carmel, California 93921. You can write there till further notice.
Also heard Francis James is still missing in China, is he Avril and Jimmy's brother** or something. Glad to see Heath in Britain, they need a change. As you can tell we've bought an English paper, first since Denmark, they are not available in the U.S.S.R.
Love to All, Pennie and David XX
* We did receive a telegram while crossing the International Date Line to say that Tabitha had arrived safely and was now locked up at Newport Beach.
** Jimmy was Mum's Nursing friend, she was my sister Meredith's Godmother, we'd known her all our lives, she married late to her cousin Avril who's brother, Francis went to China and caused some controversy.
From an Obituary in "The Independent' 1992
FRANCIS JAMES was among other things publisher, businessman, journalist, airman, churchman and prisoner. A trail of legends followed him from one adventure or misadventure to the next, He was man of panache and mystery. A wide-brimmed black felt hat and dark glasses conveyed both, while actually protecting eyes so badly damaged when his Spitfire was shot down in 1942 that he was declared totally and permanently incapacitated. (More than 40 years later he piloted a light plane for delivery from Dijon to Sydney.)
James had sailed from Australia for England in September 1939, at the age of 21, to join the RAF, and became a sergeant pilot in Fighter Command. Did he really tell the Germans who took him prisoner, and could not know his rank because his uniform was burnt off, that he was Gp Capt Turtle Dove? Back in Australia after the war, working as educational and religious correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald after being sent down from Balliol College, Oxford,, and having a spell in charge of a fishing business in Western Australia, did he really stop one day at a school, persuade the headmaster to assemble the pupils, and proclaim a half-holiday? Can he really have made his Sydney office in the back of an old Rolls-Royce alongside the Herald building, on the grounds that the space allocated to him inside admitted sunlight painful to his eyes? Was he truly the intimate of all those greats in church and state, at both ends of the empire, whose names he dropped in his RAF drawl? Well, the sergeant pilot was given officer's privileges, a Herald driver was a witness to the half-holiday, old colleagues recall him at work in the Rolls, and many a sceptic found that the archbishop or air marshal was indeed a friend.
The largest mystery is why the Chinese imprisoned him at the height of the Cultural Revolution in 1969. Was he, as they said, engaged in espionage? If so, for whom; and if not, what was he doing in China? When he was released more than three years later, after the intervention of his good friend Gough Whitlam, then the prime minister of Australia, he promised to reveal all in a book; but in the event he published only articles which recreated vividly the horrors and comedies of his imprisonment but stopped short of revelation. Much later the Chinese gave him a formal apology.