BOOKS: by Michael Daniel (reviewer)News Weekly
THE DIAMOND DAKOTA MYSTERY, by Juliet Wills
, December 9, 2006
Lost diamondsTHE DIAMOND DAKOTA MYSTERY
by Juliet Wills
(Sydney: Allen and Unwin Australia)
Paperback: 240 pages
Rec. price: $26.95In March 1942, in Java, Captain Ivan Smirnoff was about to take off in a plane loaded with refugees who were fleeing the Dutch East Indies in the wake of the Japanese invasion.
At the last minute, Smirnoff (a naturalised Dutch citizen, originally from Russia) was handed a sealed package and ordered to deliver it to agents of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney.
Smirnoff's aircraft was shot down just north of Broome by Japanese Zeroes returning from a devastating bombing raid of that town during which they destroyed other planes that had fled Java.
As Captain Smirnoff and the surviving passengers battled to survive in Australia's inhospitable northwest, the mysterious package was forgotten.
In this engaging work, award-winning Perth journalist Juliet Wills recounts the story behind the package.
Unknown to Smirnoff, whose mind was otherwise occupied, the package contained a fortune in diamonds. When the survivors were rescued, the package was left behind, its contents to be discovered by scavengers.
Eventually, many of the diamonds were gradually recovered, yet the fate of the rest of the package remains a mystery.The Diamond Dakota Mystery
also describes the fate of Broome in the wake of the Japanese invasion.