chronicle #2



this is Charles O'Hara Booth                                      





this is Sardine/Tangle Eye 





Mansfield wrote... 


My grandfather Captain M.T. O'Mansfield was mostly known by either of his two nicknames, Sardine or Tangle-Eye (the later due to his lazy eye). My family has recorded the dropping of the 'O' in front of Mansfield around the time my Great-grandmother married a German man and moved to Worms, Rhineland-Palatinate (1907). But Sardine/Tangle-Eye picked it back up when he joined the navy.


For several years after the war Sardine/Tangle-Eye was in charge of locating and dismantling ocean mines left behind by the enemy. During this time he began his first sketches of the submarine-launched MiG-25 Foxbat, a fantastical idea that did not get realised until well after his death. 








Howden wrote...


In 1843, during the early years of European settlement of Newcastle, a Commandant by the name of Charles O-Hara Booth visited the expanding colony. According to Booths diaries his singular reason for making the lengthy voyage north was regarding a close acquaintance, a 'fair and good tempered little partner'. At the time of writing Booth was stationed in Port Arthur where he oversaw the daily operations of one of Australia's most significant penal colonies for reoffenders, a position he had occupied for the previous decade.


Booth was known as a strategic authoritarian. During his time at Port Arthur, he introduced the practice of keeping guard dogs at the narrow isthmus connecting Port Arthur to mainland Tasmania. In essence, this rendered the penal settlement an island as convicts had to swim and risk drowning in order to escape. In his second year as Commandant, Booth developed a satellite colony off the coast of Port Arthur, making use of the small island of Point Puer. This was an incarceration site for female and prepubescent male convicts and devised by Booth as a method in 'minimising the excesses of the body' between the sexes. Although his rationale was founded in Christian sentiment, the practice of increasingly scaled-down containment was a practical resolution to containing the body or self, in this instance unwanted pregnancy and increased strain on already minimal medical resources of an outlier colony. 


The extent of correspondence between Booth and his 'fair and good tempered' acquaintance inspired him to make the five day journey from Port Arthur to Newcastle. The letters between the two were of a personal tone but it is Booth's diaries that expose a deeper intention: "should she be willing, a commandant's wife can life a very satisfactory existence'.


Upon arrival Booth describes the early settlement of Newcastle, paying particular attention to Coal Island (Nobby's Headland):



...a tall and distinct outcrop. The rock emerges at the mouth of the Hunter River, bore South 82 degrees West, distance three or four leagues from colliers Point. Morisset [Lieutenant-Colonel James Thomas Morisset] tells me works connecting the island to mainland will be complete soon - a construction of significant perseverance against the sea. Would it were mine, a fine residence it would make. Also a reliable boundary it would make - excellent for those in need of reformation. 



Unfortunately, Booth's expedition was misguided. According to chaplaincy records, the object of his desire was already wedded two months prior. He made the return trip south after staying only four days in Newcastle. Considering the short period of visitation, Booth was clearly disappointed. His entries during this period were brief, primarily describing his dissatisfaction with township: '...a place compromised of vulgar characters. P[ort]. Arthur - a settlement of those double distilled in poor logic and wretched will - contains more civility."


Despite his emotional distress and distaste for Newcastle, Booth remained fascinated by Coal Island and the return journey proved productive. Within the first three days he had roughly sketched a reformatory structure to be situated in the island. It was a basic incarnation of what would be later known as a panopticon. 


On the forth day of his journey Booth fell ill. Immediately upon arrival, having possibly contracted tuberculosis, he admitted himself to Lime Island - a smaller island off the coast of Point Puer designated as quarantine and hospital to the Port Arthur settlement. Medical records cleared Booth of tuberculosis, typhoid and other illnesses known at the time. However, due to the continuing nature of his fever he was retained for medical observation. Three weeks of a sustained delirium kept Booth in quarantine confinement and, in his absence, he was medically retired from his post as Commandant of Port Arthur. On the morning of 15 June 1843 Booth was found dead having drowned during the night in a failed attempt to swim to shore. 



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