The Man on the Mantelpiece: A memoir
UWA Publishing, $24.99 pb, 232 pp, 9781760800031
In 1952, Marion May Campbell’s father was killed in an apocalyptic accident when his World War II RAAF Dakota was knocked out of control by contact with a waterspout and was ‘unable to effect recovery’. There were no survivors and little wreckage. The outmoded Dakota was on loan to the CSIRO to conduct experiments in artificial rainmaking that required flying into turbulent cumulonimbus clouds. ‘Rainmaking is the work of the Devil,’ his daughter heard. Had the radio physicists on those flights discovered how to make it rain over drought-stricken areas of Australia, they would have been hailed as heroes. As it was, his grieving widow received a nasty anonymous letter intimating that the crew got what they deserved for ‘interfering with nature’.