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Mackie and Jack

They married in wartime...and said goodbye

(7 customer reviews)
Authors: Jan William Smith
History, Australiana
153mm x 230mm

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A true and moving story of love, war, courage and indomitable spirit…
One day the tall, gaunt father came to the house with the new wife and called the puzzled seven-year-old to him. She had never seen him before… ‘I am your father and you will call me Father, and this is your new mother and you will call her Mother,’ he said. Then he went away again, leaving little Bell with confusion in her mind and emptiness in her heart.

In Mackie and Jack, the author travels with Mary ‘Bell’ Todd on a journey to remember a lonely childhood, a wartime marriage and what it took for her to succeed as a woman alone in a man’s world of livestock breeding in Australia. Empowered by inner strength and resilience, she confronted her challenges and overcame them.

In 1942-1944, Mary’s husband, Squadron Leader Jack Todd faced challenges of another kind. Armed with bombs, depth charges and mines, the Catalinas of 11 and 20 Squadrons, Royal Australian Air Force, took the war directly to the Japanese by reaching out from Cairns in flights across the Pacific. From these squadrons alone, 187 men did not return.

Jack Todd piloted the ill-fated mission of Catalina A24.34. Jack’s story is one of courage, leadership and valour in a war against an enemy that showed no mercy.

An outstanding account of Australian war history and that of a woman who brushed aside those who stood in her way.

Jan William Smith

Jan William Smith

Jan Smith was born at Dalby, Queensland in 1935, and was educated at Toowoomba, Southport and Canberra. He began a journalism career with a cadetship on the Toowoomba Chronicle. He has been a journalist on daily newspapers in Mackay, Toowoomba, Sydney; ABC radio and TV Mackay, Toowoomba, Canberra; Federal government media liaison Canberra, local government […]

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7 reviews for Mackie and Jack

  1. Writer Jan Smith has three books in publication – The Glass Cricket Ball, Mackie & Jack and the soon to be released Hitler’s Tractor. Writers may dream of having one book published, but retired journalist Jan William Smith is celebrating three within twelve months, all at the age of 87 …. Born in 1934, he says there should be no surprise that an 87-year-old writer should continue his craft. “Tom Keneally, who almsot shares the same birthday as me, manages it, so why can’t I?”

    Writers may dream of having one book published, but retired journalist Jan William Smith is celebrating three books within twelve months, all at the age of 87.
    His latest book published by Big Sky Publishing is The Glass Cricket Ball, a compelling story of the one armed soldier/artist Napier Waller. The second book titled Mackie and Jack tells of what happened to Squadron Leader Jack Todd and his crew of Catalina A24.34, in wartime 1944. His wife Mackie (Mary Todd) went on to make an important contribution to the pastoral industry in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.
    To be released in May is Smith’s third book Hitler’s Tractor. Reviewers have described it as a poignant and exquisitely written novel about dementia and the ravages of time.

  3. “Mackie McWilliam learned to fly with Jack Todd over the coming weeks. She went solo in ten hours. Ten hours and a few weeks. About the time it took to know that she loved Jack Todd.”

    Jan William Smith is quite the storyteller. His evocative, poetic at times writing style transported me to places I’ve never been, in times since passed. The story of Mackie and Jack is presented in the form of time travellers exploring the past, as an older Mackie and the author visit places from her life. The dual timelines worked well, occasionally feeling like an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

  4. Jan made me feel like I knew these people – each person and place that passes through the pages are well-written and described. I could smell the sale yards, hear the engine hum of Catalinas. The vivid imagery, particularly of the Windsor Hotel, made such places feel like characters themselves – I later discovered the author lived there during the 1940s! The pictures were great at bringing names and places alive too.

    Jack Todd’s war experiences made for heartbreaking, yet gripping reading. Impossible not to feel emotion when reading of his goodbye to Mackie, his crash-landing, or the jungles of New Britain, and beyond.

    “He had the feeling that their life together had not really begun – that this must be merely an overture to what would ultimately be the long unfolding story of their lives.”

  5. Mackie lived a full life – her time as an Australian tourist in Nazi Germany prior to WWII was fascinating. While slightly jarring going from Jack’s POW experiences to sheep and turnips, Mackie’s life on the land was inspiring in its own way. I enjoyed reading of her successes with Corriedale sheep, and of her close bond with Whisky the Border Collie.

    “At home that night, Whisky was allowed into the kitchen. They had saved the ewes and she wanted the old dog to know that she could not have done it without him.”

  6. While Mackie and Jack centres on two people, it’s also the story of many strong, hardworking women and brave, heroic young men – of which filled that generation. It’s important such stories are told; that people know how things once were, of what others endured and overcame. And it’s important these stories are told with the respect and care they deserve – which is certainly the case here.

    Whether you’re interested in war, farming, or a dash of romance, there’s something for everyone in the remarkable story of Mackie and Jack.

    “Courage was not a thing that could be explained easily. Courage was something that usually proved itself on the spur of the moment. It was only afterwards that it could safely be sung about.”

  7. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in Mackie and Jack and could not wait to see where the author was taking the story. The result is a classic story
    of what the human spirit can endure and survive. Mackie died in 2006 leaving a story of an enriched life with all its pros and cons of what life can throw at
    her. More power to the author in providing a thoughtful and interesting story. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a classic Australian
    story. All in all, a great read.

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