Ion (Jack) Llewellyn Idriess 1889-1979

Dedicated to the Life and Works of


In his list of fifty-three books Jack collaborated with only two other authors.

Torpedoman Thomas Michael (Taff) Jones co-wrote “The Silent Service” (Angus and Robertson, 1944) with Jack.

And James Bell (Jim ) Moody collaborated with Jack to produce “Horrie the Wog Dog” (Angus and Robertson, 1945).


Taff must have been a remarkable career sailor serving with both the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. Taff was an author in his own right before “The Silent Service”. He had written, “Watchdogs of the Deep: Life in a Submarine During the Great War” (Angus and Robertson, 1935) and “Sons of the Sea: From Naval Cadet to Captain” (Angus and Robertson, 1941).


Taff seems to have begun (in the RN) and ended (in the RAN) his career on surface ships but his main service was in submarines. Taff had served on the HMS London among the landing boat crews at Gallipoli but hearing of the exploits of Lieutenant Norman Douglas Holbrook, VC, in the submarine B11 in the Dardanelles, he joined the submarine service. The submarine he knew best was the “J-class”.


In January 1915 eight J-class submarines were commissioned under the United Kingdom War Emergency Program. Only six were constructed and Taff served on J2. In “Watchdogs of the Deep”, he described the conditions on board J2 as they were in 1916.


As well as his service with the Royal Navy Taff served in the Royal Australian Navy until in 1923 he decided to return to England with the intention of join up again with the British Submarine Service. However, while on holidays, just prior to joining up, he changed his mind. He said he had a keen desire to return to Australia.


Taff then served as quartermaster at Flinders Naval Base until he joined the destroyer HMAS Tasmania. He was discharged in February 1926. In “Watchdogs of the Deep” he said his career had included a fair amount of experience as a sailor (a wooden training ship, a battleship, in submarines and in destroyers). He also mentioned “a fair amount of land fighting”. Taff went to work as a painter in Sydney but he needed years of recuperation following a serious fall in 1929. At the time of writing “Watchdogs of the Deep” in 1935 he was apparently quite fit again.



Although Jack did not describe Jim Moody’s personality as such (the book was written in the first person from Jim’s point-of-view), Jim was one of the “Rebels” constantly bucking authority, going absent without leave and defying all the rules and regulations. Jack portrayed the Rebels as the legendary larrikin Australian soldiers. And of course, this must have been accurate to an extent. There is a fair amount of the daredevil in the Rebel’s smuggling of Horrie from Egypt to Greece on to Crete, to Palestine, Syria back to Palestine and then to Australia.

In his book “Horrie the War Dog”, Roland Perry further exaggerated this picture. In Perry’s description Jim comes across as a swashbuckling rascal. He is portrayed as a hero with a heart of gold always fighting the injustice of insensitive bureaucracy (whether it be in the form of Army Officers, ships’ captains or civilian authority). Just as Jack was said to have been a devil at home for his family and an angel to outsiders – so too was Jim. In his public persona he must have been a bit of a character.

One correspondent, following this website knew Jim quite well back in the 50's. Through Jim Hewitt and a neighbour, Jim Moody arrived in the district to class wool. My correspondent said, “Of course Jim stayed in our home not with the shearers. He arrived in an old cut down Rolls Royce and if you knew him this was appropriate.”

My correspondent said Jim was, “quite a character – liked his cigarettes, beer, the ladies and yarns (of which he seemed to have an endless supply). As a seventeen-year-old I went to a Ball with Jim one night (with a scoundrel who loved a big night out) – it was quite a learning curve! He certainly was a larrikin when we knew him, but so much fun.”


My correspondent went on to say, “I can well imagine how his family were so divided about his ‘attributes’. When I knew him he was a character and obviously, he was a character when he was in the army. So I guess that was Jim Moody. He just never seemed to have settled down after the war. One never really knows how the war affects a person though. Who is to judge ?


Then my correspondent said, “We bought his book and talked about it many times. Jim told us they did not get Horrie . We could not believe that he and his friends would not have managed to get Horrie through. Jim said that they never got him. We believed him”.


Then, in support of the larrikin side of Jim’s personality I found the following article in the Townsville Daily Bulletin (Saturday 6 March 1948). The article speaks for itself. “CRAWLED ONE MILE FOR BET Returned soldier, Jim Moody of East St. Kilda, Melbourne, crawled one mile from Spring Street to Spencer Street, Melbourne, carrying a glass of beer to win a £5 bet that Middle East men were ‘tougher’ than New Guinea veterans”.

Even so there seems to have been a much darker side to Jim Moody. For a start his military record shows a deplorable lack of responsibility. He joined up on 19 March 1940 but less than two years later he was absent without leave on 10 January 1942. In August the same year he was charged with desertion and fined for being again AWL. Still in 1942 he was fined for disobeying an order. And so it goes on. Jim was fined a further six times during his service – five for being Absent Without Leave and once for conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. But his misconduct also carried over into his married life.

Roland Perry mentions Jim’s three marriages and the reason for the failure of these marriages as Jim being “unsettled” (p334) but Ann Bullen (Jim’s younger daughter) corrects this assertion. She says Jim was not only an incorrigible philanderer but he was also a violent alcoholic. In any case Jim’s first marriage was on the rocks even before he joined the Army.

Jim’s first marriage was to Patricia (Pat) Lesley Bell. The marriage appears to have been a spur of the moment decision that Pat regretted from the start. They married by license on Christmas Eve 1935. Family legend has it that Jim had a “fling” with a waitress on the night of his wedding to Pat and when Jim enlisted she moved back with her parents. Perry said (p216) that Jim received a “Dear John” letter from Pat and implied that it was because Pat had become involved with someone else. This is not at all likely. Pat’s second marriage was to John (Jack) Patterson who was a prisoner of the Japanese at Changi. Jack Patterson was not discharged until 1945 and he married Pat in 1950. Their marriage lasted fifty years. It is far more likely that Pat had had enough of Jim’s antics with women and grog.


Jim married Joan Booth in June 1951.  Within two years of this marriage Jim was at his womanizing again. There seems little doubt that the responsibility for the breakdown of this marriage lies with Jim. In a divorce decision, Mr Justice Barry said Jim, after repeated adultery, “continued to act in a cruel and brutal fashion (toward Joan) and at times his behaviour was almost that of a man who was mentally deranged ... (and) his wife, with every justification, left him.


Ann Bullen said Jim never respected boundaries either in his service life or in his personal life.  Ann went on to say that there were at least two episodes in her parents’ marriage where her mother was “rescued” by relatives, one at  Metung and the other at Portarlington. Both episodes involved alcohol. In both episodes Jim threatened to kill Joan.


Ann said her Aunt (her mother’s sister) said her mother received an anonymous telephone call shortly after her marriage. The caller said something like, “You don't know me, but I was his first wife and good luck with that one".  The same Aunt said even Jim's father expressed similar sentiments. At lunch at the Beaufort Hotel after the marriage of Jim and Joan, Jim’s father said something like, "I hope it works out as he can be unpredictable, particularly when he has been drinking".


So there was certainly another much darker side to Jim Moody; a side that was at significant variance to the cheeky irreverent larrikin with a heart of gold portrayed in Perry’s book (and to a lesser extent, in Jack’s book). There is more detail in Wikipedia under "Horrie the Wog Dog".