The official Mari Kaye backgrounder.
Compiled and maintained by Mari Kaye’s brother David Jackson.
Mari Kaye, shown here with her younger brother David to her right. David is the manuscript editor contributor and webmaster.
This backgrounder is intended to provide readers insights into how Mari Kaye’s personal life inspired her fictional depiction of the main characters Ken Jacobie, Ken Jacobie’s wife Maggie, and their gender-conflicted son, Daniel.
Despite Mari Kaye’s claims that ‘Jacobie’s Wake’ is 100% fiction, that clearly is not the case early on in Mari Kaye’s ‘Jacobie’s Wake’ historical novel. Much of the narrative tracks actual recorded events in WW2 and through personal history in our family’s life; in particular with regards to our parents’ early married life in the early 40s, pre-D-Day. Later, post-1952 during the Cold War, Ken Jacobie’s time and business ventures were anchored in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, as was the case with our, what by then had become collateral damage as a dis-functional ex-pat, ex-RAF English family stranded the Netherlands in continental Europe. The narrative mirrors our father’s mostly successful business ventures post-1953 based in the Netherlands. Plot-lines and actions post-D-Day are a mixture of both imagined bio-historical fiction, and actual history, and as such it makes sense to classify the genre of Jacobie’s Wake as ‘bio-historical fiction’.
Our father, Sgt. Ken Jackson, according to his own account, had “a very good war” that provided him with opportunity, prospects, resources, adventure and independence. It was perhaps the best and most liberating time of his still relatively young life, in stark contrast to his previous more drab, predictable reality in 1939 as manager of an ironmonger’s store in Nottingham where he had recently certified as an ironmonger following a four-year apprenticeship in Hull, Yorkshire. His time in the RAF during WW2 really did become a time of creative independence. It became a time he later looked back on with nostalgia.
Author Mari Kaye, according to her own account wrote this novel ‘Jacobie’s Wake’ over an extended series of momentary inspirations over several years. Mari Kaye is the pen name for my transgender sister. It was a therapeutic endeavour as a diversion from a volatile and stressful period in her life. It was, it seems to me, an attempt to reconcile her personal life with what she imagined might have been. You may notice here, that, as her brother, I am taking some liberty with my subjective interpretation of her motivations, a license conveyed to me pre-publication. Whatever her motivations, she is a very talented and creative writer, inspired through multifaceted life experiences to produce this captivating novel covering conspiracies, intrigue, transgender love and assassinations. All this during two major wars. Congratulations, and thank you, for sharing your creative work, Mari Kaye!
Ken Jackson Pre – Royal Air Force
1931: Our father Ken Jackson at age 15 in Sculcoats, Yorkshire, England.
Ken Jackson’s Four-Year ‘Ironmonger’ Apprenticeship (1934 – 1938)
War Seemed Imminent
Now a Journeyman Ironmonger, and a Nottingham Ironmonger’s salesman, Ken Jackson met a hosiery machinist and part-time model, Ethel Rogers, at a boarding-house in Arnold, near Nottingham. They are the inspiration for the bio-fictional characters of Ken and Maggie Jacobie.
Ken and Ethel
In Nottingham, England, in early 1939, with WW2 conscription imminent, several young men and their girl-friends decided to volunteer for military service and position themselves for better pay and better accommodation conditions. Part of the plan was to get married as soon as possible. These discussions took place in a pub at the foot of Nottingham Castle Rock during one of their regular get-togethers. Ken Jackson asked his boarding friend, who was living in the same boarding house in Arnold and sitting beside him in the pub, the 19-year-old Ethel Rogers, whether she would consider marrying him. This, according to Ken, would be to mutual advantage under the circumstance of pending war. As a married volunteer, he would get better pay, and she could look forward to married quarters and income once she became pregnant. She had been fending for herself since the age of fifteen and only needed to consider the implications for a couple of days before she agreed, enticed by the prospect of predictable circumstances. They got married on the 13th. of January of 1940. Soon after, in mid-1940, Ken and his now-wife were dispatched to RAF Wolverhampton where they were assigned wartime emergency married quarters for the duration of Ken’s assigned RAF technical trade training. Married quarters without children, however, was no more than a waterproof cabin well outside Wolverhampton, but a safe distance away from almost nightly bombing raids by the Luftwaffe. They could see the light-flashes and searchlights at night, and hear the distant sounds of exploding bombs.
1939: With conscription imminent, Ken volunteered for the Royal Air force:
RAF Accommodation while in training at RAF Wolverhampton:
Still a childless couple, accommodation was not what what had been expected.
After completing training at RAF Wolverhampton, in September 1941, they were posted to RAF Squires Gate, near Blackpool. While at Squires Gate, Jacobie’s Wake author, Mari Kaye, was born and became Ken and Ethel Jackson’s firstborn. Mari Kaye was christened ‘Michael Kevin Jackson’. I, Mari Kaye’s younger brother, David, was also born while at RAF Squires Gate, but not until two and a half years later I was born in March 1944. At the top of this page, we are shown as grown men, and below, on the left with our father, then promoted to R.A.F. Sergeant. This promotion was after our father had first become an RAF Corporal and technical instructor at Squires Gate, sometime in 1941.
It was well into WW2 when our father, Ken Jackson, was ordered to report to RAF Odiham in preparation for duties yet to be defined. It turned out that he had been assigned a technical team. He was to depart to France in command of an RAF Critical Aircraft-Component-Salvage-Unit, comprised of a mixed crew of some 18 recently trained Commonwealth airmen. Our mother and us two kids in Blackpool would not see him again until early November 1946, except for a short leave in June of 1945. On November 6, 1946, on an ice-cold winter’s day, our family landed in Amsterdam, Holland in an R.A.F. Dakota equipped for paratrooper transport. At last, we were on our way to be reunited with our father in the Netherlands stationed at R.A.F. Eindhoven, then known as Allied Airfield B.78.
1939 – 2000:
Mari Kaye’s Easy Reading
Two Book Novel Series of ‘Jacobie’s Wake’
Part One: Ken Jacobie in the R.A.F. (1939 – 1952) – Published as a large print, easy reading edition.
Part Two: Jacobie and the CIA (1953 – 2000) – Published as a large print, easy reading edition.
Jacobie in the R.A.F. – 1939 – 1952
The fictional characters of R.A.F. Sergeant Ken Jacobie and his crew, Ken’s wife Maggie, and Ken’s and Maggie’s gender-conflicted son Daniel, are imagined characters inspired by Mari Kaye’s personal, often dysfunctional family life. The details of the individual imagined events in the narrative and the plotline reflect the author’s creative talent and spring from a life of confused identity, family dysfunction, intelligent curiosity and international travel. From my own recollections, many are intertwined with both actual and imagined circumstances. Mari Kaye uses her considerable personal experience in the RAF together with her intimate knowledge of history and RAF culture, lived through in context, to inspire and weave this very realistic, bio-historical fictional novel.
We as the First RAF family arriving in the Netherlands.
November 6, 1946
After boarding at the Dutch farm for several months we moved into town and rented an attic at Zoutmanstraat 28. We stayed there for about six month and then moved to Herderstraat 4.
Camping along the Rhine in Germany in 1948
with our newly acquired German made, RAF ex-CO’s VW Beetle and our RAF ex-CO’s dog Butch.
1948: A Mariage Under Stress
Jacobie and the CIA
This is the second part of Mari Kaye’s two-part novel,
when Ken Jacobie is no longer serving in the RAF.
Ken Jacobie ventures into business as an expat businessman and gets involved with the CIA
Post-WW2, in 1953, after leaving the R.A.F., and during the early stages of the ensuing Cold War, our father decided the family should stay on in the Netherlands so he could go into business there. On several occasions these attempted ventures fell flat, denting his dream of becoming a successful ex-pat entrepreneur, seriously affecting family resources, and leading our father to excessive consumption of alcohol at the Sergeant’s Mess. Our family, at that time, had been provided with a post-war prefabricated home by the municipality and supplied by Canada as aid. They were duplex units, available for a reasonable rent from the municipality of Eindhoven. A nice feature for us kids was that they had a fair-sized garden attached and the newly built community was surrounded by fields, built on a flood plain adjacent to the nearby river ‘De Gender’.
It was also near an industrial canal’s bulk loading dock where we could get up to all kinds of mischief on industrial accessible equipment and openly warehoused bulk cargo such as large diameter logs from the tropics and large piles of sand. There was excavating equipment to dig up clay and rail equipment to transport the clay to a nearby brick factory. The clay was transported to the factory on rails in wagons similar to those one could find in coal mines. The rail ran down a slope across the canal providing us kids with excitement on the weekends when we would push the carts down the slope and hike an exciting ride across the canal.
Except for our family, it was an otherwise completely Dutch community with many young families, kids, dogs, cats and chickens. On our left in the adjoining home lived the family Henderson. Mr. Henderson worked for Philips and later became the managing director of Philips in Germany. When the family moved to Germany the family Van Oosten moved in. They had two daughters, Ditty and Cora, that became good friends. To our right lived the family Veldman (Lambert and Tilli). Mr. Veldman (Lambert) was a successful entrepreneur who had made a good deal of money in Surinam in South America as a contractor. When he was our neighbour, he owned most of the bulk loading and unloading facilities along the frontage of the Eindhoven harbour on the ‘Beatrix-kanaal’. The Veldmans’ two children were Bennie and Anja. As British liberators, we were welcomed in the community, but somewhat mismatched, sandwiched between these financially very successful families. Both the Hendersons and the Van Oostens, nevertheless became good friends of our family.
A Time of Struggle.
No longer on the RAF’s payroll, money in our family soon ran out. Opportunities for this aspiring ex-pat British businessman, our father Ken Jackson, became in very short supply. Winters in post-war Eindhoven were excruciatingly cold and our only heat for a while was a single RAF paraffin heater in the kitchen that we huddled around in the evenings before going to bed with a hot-water bottle and several blankets. My brother Kevin (Mari Kaye) and I slept together head-to-toe in a single bed when I was six or seven. I came down with a serious case of the flu, late in 1947, causing delirium and according to the doctor a close call with the maker. Mari Kaye also became seriously ill with severe asthma and had to be sent to a sanatorium for young asthma patients to convalesce. I remember visiting her at the sanatorium where we brought her some creative manipulative toys that we knew she liked. The sanatorium was quite idyllically situated among the rolling dunes bordering the North Sea.
One entrepreneurial venture initiated by our father to put bread on the table was to provide bus service into downtown Eindhoven for RAF personnel, socially stranded at the RAF base, several miles from town. On weekends, we as a family would all gather around the dining room table to separate coins into different values and then add up the bus fares, rolling coins for bank deposit. Our father chartered a bus for this ‘Hail Mary’ venture from the privately run bus company Indique in Eindhoven. Dad, later, among several other attempts, also tried his hand at importing municipal waterworks hardware such as valves of various kinds from England, but that venture didn’t last very long, either. One venture was trying to market upscale Henry-Wintermans cigars from a supplier in Amsterdam for export to the UK, but that too proved to be an overly optimistic dead-end goose chase.
In the meantime, we had to make do as a family with worn-out shoes, and our mother would secretly go through our father’s pockets for loose change to buy essentials. Most of our father’s innings seemed to be spent with his old pals in the Sergeants Mess where he was still welcome, or on gas for our newly acquired second-hand VW, paid for with a loan from a business associate. Our mother, in desperation, had to request financial assistance from the RAF Benevolent Fund without letting our dad know, just to feed and clothe us kids. Fortunately, we had a sewing machine and our mother was very good at repairing torn clothes and knitting sweaters.
A Shrewd Local Business Benefactor
I remember how, in late 1953, dad connected socially with a dynamic up-and-coming Dutch entrepreneur in Eindhoven, Marinus Kerstens, who had already been in the war-time scrap metal business during Nazi Occupation and lived not far from where we lived. They struck up a friendship after discussing some common symbiotic opportunities for profit from wartime scrap business, and dad anxious to establish his business credentials floated the possibility for accessing RAF wartime aircraft wreckage. To further impress this Dutch entrepreneur our father invited ‘Rinus’ and his wife ‘Mary’ to visit RAF B78 airfield where he still had access, so as to burnish his credentials with him as an R.A.F. insider and add weight to his claim of having valuable intelligence on where to locate wartime downed aircraft wreckage, information gained while he was still in the RAF obtained from documented intelligence. This led to a virtual gold-mine of information for Mr. Kerstens. Rinus, as we called him, was able to obtain otherwise extremely difficult to get intelligence on the whereabouts of widely distributed Allied plane wrecks. I don’t know whether our father ever financially profited significantly from this. In fact, I don’t think he did, except for possibly being extended a private loan needed to purchase the departing CO’s VW Beetle for business travel. We were desperately in need of money in those days. I do know that Marinus Kerstens became a very wealthy man around that time, and in later years built several iconic Eindhoven landmarks, such as the Holiday Inn in the Centre of Eindhoven and a community bowling ally/restaurant, as well as retail space on the Limburglaan. He and Mary later moved to Monaco where it was reported he had become socially close to the Prince of Monaco and his wife Grace Kelly.
But then …..
By early 1954, our father suddenly seemed to hit his stride in business, securing sole importing rights from the UK for a zinc-based anti-corrosion coating called ‘Rust-Anode.’ This, at that time, in war-torn Holland, was a state-of-the-art and hard to obtain anti-corrosion protective cold-galvanizing coating that was sorely needed for structural maintenance, and soon became in strong demand, mostly by small and medium-sized businesses with structural infrastructure. This coating product was well suited to our father’s naturally acquired convivial salesman skills. His growing ambition and his now growing familiarity with Dutch business practices were starting to pay off. The halo-effect of being a British ex-RAF ex-pat liberator didn’t hurt either. RUST-ANODE® is a cold galvanization and contains about 96% pure zinc dust in the dry layer. This zinc coating protects the steel surface electro-chemically. It offers the same cathodic protection as hot-dip galvanization, metalization or zinc coating by electrolysis. The RUST-ANODE® protection was far better than offered by any other traditional anti-rust paint at that time. It came close to an actual galvanizing process.
Success in business soon resulted in mounting trouble at home. With ever more demand on time for business administration and marketing came the need for staff, a better understanding of Dutch regulatory norms and more time away from home. By 1954, our mother became seriously depressed sensing that our father was spending a lot of his after-hours with some of his female staff. A meagre allowance was all she was provided to take care of us two boys. To make matters worse, our paternal grandfather had suddenly decided to move in with us in late 1953 from the UK after our grandmother, his wife Elsie Maud Nichols, had suddenly and unexpectedly died under tragic circumstances. This added further strain to our parents’ tense relationship.
On learning about our mother’s depression, distress and marital problems our maternal grandfather Bill Rogers (Canada Bill) and his partner Ivey came for a two-week stay, around September in 1954 to see for themselves.
Shortly after they had returned to England our mother, on the advice of her psychotherapist decided to also go to England, for an extended stay, and hopefully recuperate.
Unexpected Good Business News
On a day in the spring of 1956, our father became particularly excited. He had received notice that he would be getting a visit from an American to talk about a potentially profitable business. The man would be driving down from Zurich, Switzerland, in his Volvo, and if we could arrange his accommodations.
A Mysterious Visit
Our father showed great interest and said he would be happy to meet the American gentleman. Not more than a month later the man showed up in Eindhoven. In a closed-door discussion, our father was offered sole representation for an American company’s special-purpose anti-corrosion coatings especially suited for maritime bulk-load carriers. Representation would be for the whole of Europe. An initial contract would be to apply protective coatings at the soon to be completed first Dutch nuclear reactor in the Netherlands at Petten. (See Note)
Note: (This low flux reactor was first used in 1960 but later permanently shut down in 2010. It had a capacity of 30 kW. The reactor was the property of the Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) and was mainly used for the production of neutrons for biological and physical research.)
It was intended to become a new bespoke maritime anti-corrosion coatings business. This new bespoke anti-corrosion capability soon took hold and grew exponentially to become the engine for continued growth throughout the sixties and well into the seventies. Satellite offices were opened in Antwerp, Belgium and Tynemouth, Northumberland, England. International banking was consolidated in Luxembourg.
Despite our father’s business success, family harmony continued to buckle under the strain of extended absences and still scarce household money at home, all while in Holland in a foreign land with a foreign culture. Our father was frequently away for days as he became preoccupied with growing his business and all that came with growing sales. In those early days, most earnings went back into the business. Soon he needed administrative help, so he began looking for administrative, secretarial and sales staff. However, the family remained on a strictly limited meagre budget, and to us, we seemed like our father’s forgotten afterthought.
Our father passed away on September 05, 1986, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Today the company appears to have imploded and is a mere shell of its former international self. I can only speculate as to why. It does, however, remain a corporate entity under Dutch jurisdiction, registered in the small Dutch village of Leende, south of Eindhoven (KvK: 17019196) continuing under the name Corrosion Control B.V., and listed as having only 1 employee. Due to our family breakup, both Mari Kaye and I were disinherited by our father; probably orchestrated by his former office manager, and later wife, Sina Danissen. Everything was left to Sina according to the will, invoking English law, and presented to me by Sina’s lawyer at our father’s death. Sina recently passed away in a care home near Leende in November of 2020.
On several occasions, I returned to Europe and visited him and his family in Leende, and was always made to feel welcome by him, but not by his new wife. She always made sure I didn’t spend time alone with him. Only once over more than half a dozen visits did I have an opportunity for a private conversation where he was able to ask me how I was doing. After I had moved to Canada, he did write to me on several occasions.
In the novel ‘Jacobie’s Wake‘ authored by Mari Kaye over many years as both a distraction and a way of making sense of our family’s checkered history. Ken Jackson, our father, as mentioned above, was clearly the inspiration for the opportunistic and entrepreneurial fictional character of Ken Jacobie. Our father, like Ken Jacobie, had become a Sergeant in the RAF in 1944 while at R.A.F. Squires Gate during WW2. Like Ken Jacobie, he had a thick crop of auburn hair, was born in Yorkshire in the north-east of England, and like our father, met our mother while they were boarding in the same lodgings in Nottingham. He had just completed a four-year Ironmonger’s apprenticeship in Hull, Yorkshire, and managed a hardware store in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire.
Following thorough training at R.A.F. Wolverhampton, Ken Jackson was assigned to R.A.F. Blackpool as an instructor. Later, before embarking for Normandy, he was promoted to Sergeant and given command of an R.A.F. Critical Component Salvage Unit.
In the Meantime, on the Continent, War was Raging
Ken and Maggie:
The characters of Ken Jacobie and Maggie were inspired by our parents, Ken and Ethel ‘Jacky’ Jackson.
In this thriller historical novel ‘Jacobie’s Wake’ the character of Maggie, Ken Jacobie’s wife, was inspired by our mother. Our mother’s name was Ethel, but during her time in the RAF, she preferred to be known as Jacky; she never did like Ethel. She, like Maggie in the novel, came from a working-class background in Nottingham. As described above, her marriage to Ken Jackson had been a marriage of quickly arranged convenience brought on by the realities of impending war. Similarities with Maggie are obvious. Our mother did indeed, as in the novel, clean fish that our father had caught by setting out nets at low tide in Blackpool and in Morecambe Bay, selling the fresh catch to any of the many lodgings in Blackpool. This income supplemented the family’s R.A.F. income nicely. Like Maggie in the novel, our mother also liked a soft boiled egg for breakfast together with bread fingers, and like Maggie, she was able to knit and sew smart clothes with the best of them and was always well presented. She had indeed been chosen to attend one of the best girls’ schools in Nottingham where she excelled and was taught to play the violin.
The character of Daniel/Dolores is inspired by the author, my sibling, Mari Kaye’s own struggled with her gender dysphoria all her life. She finally had a gender change performed in Melbourne after leaving Tasmania, where she had been working as the leading ‘Art Coordinator’ for the Board of Education.
As your webmaster on this blog, I am the missing member of our family in the novel ‘Jacobie’s Wake’. I am somewhat present in the character of Daniel as a baby, shortly before Ken Jacobie went to Normandy. Mari Kaye (Daniel/Dolores/Kevin) was actually born in 1941 and by almost three years my senior sibling. Being older than me, Kevin (Daniel) would have had three years to observe, experience, get to know, and bond with our parents well before our father was deployed to France. He was able to observe our parents early, as spouses, whereas I was only two months old when our father left for an arranged, top-secret location in the UK. This is where designated troops went to receive their final instructions before the Normandy invasion. There was only one two-day visit home before they were scheduled to cross over to France shortly after D-Day, a time while fierce fighting was still raging in and around Caen.
We didn’t become a functioning family unit again until November 1946, some two years and three months later, when we were allowed to join our father at R.A.F. Eindhoven. We flew in on an arranged RAF flight to Schiphol airport on a windy winter day in a WW2 RAF Dakota paratroop transport plane. The RAF had been expecting us the day before, so there was nobody to receive our mother and us two kids. I was told the plane had been expected on the previous day and had crashed, killing all aboard. Our mother had to make her own way to R.A.F. Eindhoven in an unfamiliar land, with an unfamiliar language, and with Kevin and me as two very young children in tow. The family’s verbal historical story goes that we were the very first RAF family to be flown out of England to Holland on November 6, 1946. A welcoming ceremony had been planned.
In the meantime, life had intervened. The family coming together after more than two years of separation soon proved not to be without its challenges. It didn’t take long before family responsibilities came to be seen as an impediment to Ken Jackson now accustomed to established socially male focussed routines in the Sergeant’s Mess among his RAF peers.
Fictional Novel ‘Ken Jacobie in the R.A.F.‘
Preparations before D-Day:
None of the RAF servicemen involved in the UK’s preparatory operations were aware of their pending contribution of historical significance until just hours before embarkation. Even in the final hours, Jacobie’s crew had no real idea of what was about to happen, or how instrumental their input would be. There had been some rumoured talk of being dispatched to Scotland.
D-Day – Tuesday, 6 June 1944
The Battle for Caen, following D-Day:
In Jacobie’s Wake, Ken Jacobie and his crew after landing in Normandy were held up because of fierce German resistance in and around the city of Caen. The advancing British and Canadian troops were under the command of Field Marshal Montgomery who had seriously miscalculated the strength of the German resistance. Fighting was fierce and the Normandy terrain allowed the Germans excellent cover.
The Battle for Caen (video):
French Resistance – The Maquisade or Maquis
Much of the intelligence the allied forces had obtained prior to D-Day came from the French Resistance in France. It was one of Ken Jacobie’s first encounters with the conflicting politics within the Maquisade resistance in France.
British and Canadian armies moving North after the fall of CAEN.
CAEN had been pivotal to making progress by moving inland and North to designated strategic German defence positions at Antwerp, Belgium, and at the other delta waterways flowing into the North Sea through the Netherlands …
September 18, 1944:
Liberation of Eindhoven and R.A.F. Eindhoven (B.78) in the Netherlands.
September 19 -20, 1944:
During Operation Market Garden the most telling blow the Luftwaffe managed to land was made by its bombers on the evening of Sept. 19-20, 1944, the day following liberation, when 75 aircraft targeted Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands, seriously damaging the city and British supply columns located therein and killing several hundred Dutch citizens with a direct hit on a bomb shelter. This delayed the advance.
January 01, 1945 – Operation Bodenplatte:
In earl 1945, Operation Bodenplatte was Hitler’s desperate attempt to strike a debilitating blow to Allied air superiority and to so regain the initiative. Germany had seriously depleted much of the capacity of German fighting forces on the Eastern Front in the USSR. The surprise attack on Airfield B.78 took place early on January 01, 1945, just as the active airmen were recovering from New Year Eve celebrations. A large number of R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. planes were destroyed in the attack. Fortunately, human casualties were comparatively light. The destroyed planes were fortunately soon replaced, to be manned by the same experienced pilots who had, only a fortnight before, been at the receiving end of the Luftwaffe’s massive surprise attack.
Operation Bodenplatte Damage January 01, 1945 (16 Airfields):
December 16, 1944, through January 25, 1945:
‘Battle of the Bulge’
This was to become the greatest and deadliest battle of the Western Front in World War II.
Sgt. Ken Jackson and his R.A.F. Repair Unit were on an aircraft critical component retrieval mission in the Ardennes when suddenly surprised by the advancing German Pantzer Wehrmacht. The crew was able to remain undetected, due to being off-road, and under darkness hightailed it back to safety. This happened during their absence from their RAF Airfield B.78 (Eindhoven) base. In the morning of New Year’s Day in 1945 in Operation Bodenplatte, the Luftwaffe decimated much of the flying stock of the RAF and RCAF squadrons stationed there.
The Story of Jan Behnke and Annette van Oosterhout:
The fictional characters in Jacobie’s Wake of Jan Behnke and Annette van Oosterhout became acquainted in Serooskerke/Walcheren. The Island of Walcheren, in the province of Zeeland, was a launching area for German V2 rockets targeting Britain. Annette van Rosenberg, a waitress in ‘Jacobie’s Wake’, is first introduced while working in her father’s Cafe in Serooskerke.
The V-2 German Rocket:
V-2 rocket-missiles had earlier been moved from Houffalize in Belgium to Walcheren on the Dutch coast during the days of September 10-15, 1944.
Travelling via Germany, the trucks entered Holland at Nijmegen, then via Den Bosch to Breda – via Bergen op Zoom, then to Walcheren, where they arrived on September 15, 1944 (after the German Engineering Battalion 211 had repaired the damage to roads at Rilland). Battalion 3 Technical Abteilung 91 was soon added to the forces of Battery 444 at Walcheren. The rockets were brought to the area from the Bevelanden Causeway, through Middleburg to Ter Hooge, where they were temporarily stored on trailers under the trees. Castle Ter Hooge was the home for the commander of the German Division Headquarters at Walcheren and Bevelanden (General-Lieutenant Wilhelm Daser).
Castle Ter Hooge (General-Lieutenant Wilhelm Daser’s Headquarters).
Daser was in charge of the V2 cruise missiles on Walcheren.
The chosen launching site for the rocket operations in Walcheren was the small village of Serooskerke. (See below.)
During the WWII occupation of Walcheren, not much was different for the citizens of Serooskerke. Little of the war was noticed in the town. Of course, German troops were in or near the village — and also work must be performed for the Germans—but life goes on almost at a normal pace. However, residents described how on Friday, September 15, 1944, two German officers reported to the city municipality saying that citizens must open their windows the next day because of “shootings with heavy guns” and to stay away from the windows, as this air pressure change might break the glass.
1947 – 1953:
Airfield B.78 – R.A.F. Eindhoven
Soon after the war RAF Airfield B.78 was renamed RAF Eindhoven.
Jacobie and the CIA
In the second half of the novel Jacobie’s Wake’ (now published as a separate large-print edition titled ‘Jacobie and the CIA’ and now also available on Amazon), fiction fully takes hold of Mari Kaye’s imagination. Ken Jacobie’s wife Maggie instead of moving to R.A.F. Eindhoven, as was our mother’s reality, stays on in Blackpool and strikes up a relationship with a gay Dutch/Indonesian pastor serving as a spiritual counsellor to the international Dutch and Polish military Airforce communities in Blackpool. After the war, they become committed partners and move to Indonesia, where she fictionally and idyllically lives at her partner’s coffee plantation in Bali. There, she once more begins to pursue her real passion for fashion design and nurturing and sustaining a fashion business.
I see this narrative as the author’s way of imagining what might have been. It is also in character with the author’s own aspirations for creative expression and her fond memories of her mother. Creativity was a strong bond that Mari Kaye shared with our mother.
1952: Sgt. Ken Jackson Leaves the Royal Air Force
After World War 2 and after several years of service while stationed at RAF Eindhoven, Sergeant Ken Jackson came to the end of his contracted term of service with the RAF and saw in this his opportunity to become an independent businessman. What he saw as tempting was that post-war Europe was in a deep slump and essentially a blank slate for an entrepreneur as he saw himself, so he decided to take the opportunity and try his luck in business. He saw war-torn Holland and Europe as ready for entrepreneurial initiative. This too was Ken Jacobie’s state of mind around early 1953.
Sergeant Jackson had been well regarded among his peers while serving in the R.A.F. and was a regular patron at the Sergeants’ Mess at R.A.F. Eindhoven where he had attended most social events, often with his wife. We, as their children, had attended Sunday school at the main base camp and were frequently seen in the base cinema to watch its news and action movies. On completing his service, and in recognition of our father’s service, our parents were made honorary members of the Sergeants’ Mess so they were able to continue to socially participate in RAF functions at the Sergeants’ Mess, and beyond. However, as a family not all was what it seemed. Our father’s excessive drinking and the loss of a dependable income had left their mark on our domestic bliss. I remember our mother having to ask for support from the RAF Benevolence Fund to make ends meet.
Further trouble began to brew. Business initiatives proved more difficult than expected. While cultural and language difficulties became operational obstacles for business our dad’s solution was to approach British business sources in the UK and offer to import their goods. Slow progress in a sluggish economy led to further money issues at home, depression, alcohol abuse and deepening marital problems. Family stresses soon became obvious among the Sergeants’ Mess members and it didn’t take long for our father to become less welcome. When they heard of his wife’s battery charges, his honorary membership was withdrawn, and he was asked to terminate his membership. This darker side of our father’s character has no doubt been Mari Kaye’s inspiration for the dark side of Ken Jacobie’s character in her novel ‘Jacobie’s Wake.’
Entrepreneuring after the RAF:
Our father’s latest business venture started to take off in early 1954. At first, we began to receive half a dozen tea-chests at a time filled with cans of various sizes embedded in sawdust. The cans were branded ‘Rust Anode’, a zinc-based anti-corrosion coating that bonded with rust to create a cold galvanization result. The cans were received in our backyard often to be opened by myself to remove the cans for storage in our shed and distribution as samples and small orders.
By this time the marriage of our parents had truly broken down with our father often coming home drunk from the Sergeants’ Mess, well after midnight. To help with his business he had employed a Dutch lady named Doris as secretarial help. He subsequently began spending late evenings at her place, supposedly to work on administrative chores. Our mother, at home alone, often left penniless, with us two kids, vehemently complained and soon suffered a mental breakdown suspecting infidelity. Mom, distraught, obtained medical and psychological counselling as well as needed financial assistance from the RAF Benevolent Fund. It was decided that she should return to Nottingham England and take on a job as a therapy to recuperate. On the advice of her physician, it was decided she should go for six months. On arriving in Nottingham, she soon managed to get a suitable job serving in the restaurant at Selfridges, a high-end department store. Faced with two children that needed care and an absent wife, dad persuaded his Dutch secretary to move in with us while our mother was away in England so as to take on some of the domestic work, such as taking care of us kids.
This was not what Doris had bargained for. It wasn’t long before she resigned her position when she realized the discord she was causing. So … dad had to place an ad in the local newspaper for replacement secretarial help. Remember, his Dutch was not very good, so he did need support. Soon, a young girl, fresh out of high school showed up at our front door. I remember her because I answered the door. The girl offered her name as Sina Danissen. She was seventeen or eighteen with blonde pigtails, and a recent graduate from the Lyceum. Dad hired her on the spot!
While our mother was away, one of the three bedrooms had been converted into dad’s temporary office with a desk, phone, filing cabinet and a fold-away bed hidden behind a curtain. Our home became Sina’s workspace while our mother was still in Nottingham.
Once recuperated, our mother returned to Eindhoven, but all hell broke loose because of these new office arrangements. To our mother, our father had not learned a thing. Fights ensued and we children got involved supporting our mother whom we loved, as children do, and had really been our sole provider for so many years.
In late 1954 Ken Jackson, our father, was presented with a restraining order, requested by our mother, due to violent battery causing facial bruises, infidelity, and a neglect charge. Dad was barred from entering the house by court order. By this time the business was making money so he was able to rent more presentable office space on the ground floor of a small hotel adjacent to a city park until he could find a more permanent location.
By court order, we stayed with our mother, and once more since our time at R.A.F. Blackpool, became a single-parent family, but this time destitute. Social services had to get involved to make sure we could pay the rent, and replacement clothes, shoes and coal to heat our home.
Probably those were the days that inspired Mari Kaye to develop the character of Ken Jacobie as a cold-hearted and self-centred opportunist.
Was our father a ‘bad’ father? …. Not really, though he was not hands-on, never really bonded with us, and gave me a whopping from time to time until I could stand up to him and he thought better of it. Events, realities of war, and prospects had changed since 1944, and he likely felt frustrated that his newly inspired ex-pat opportunities and dreams were being frustrated and constrained by domestic realities of family. In practical terms, he needed space to follow his dream and ambition, to grow a business.
Costa Brava, Spain Holiday
In our dad’s last-ditch attempt to be a father to us, he took us on a holiday to the Costa Brava in Spain. That holiday with dad was exciting and is still fondly remembered. On the way home, we stayed in Paris for a few days.
It is true that Ken’s opportunistic marriage of convenience to our mother, Ethel, had been a mismatch from the start, though entered into freely, and with love in the early years, but under the pressure of war conditions. She, in some ways, was smarter than he was but didn’t have much ambition beyond family, and little mind for business. Her focus was on family and her children. Years of separation during the war had not helped our dad bond well with his wife or with us, his children. Later on, after the war, the initial stresses of business ventures with minimal success, an intelligent wife but with limited good formal education, and now addicted to RAF, alcohol enhanced social comradery, became a toxic mix, lethal to domestic bliss.
Dad wanted to look for a confidant familiar with local Dutch regulatory conditions, preferably unencumbered by domestic life. First, he found that in a lady named Doris and later in Sina. Both were astute and Sina particularly a self-serving and cunning opportunist, who saw in Ken her own post-war opportunity with a boss who could be managed to her own benefit due to his unfamiliarity with local business law and business conditions.
Mari Kaye had long been the more artistically creative of us two brothers. He/She took after our mother in that respect. Mari Kaye could spend hours building balsa wood models of airplanes such as the Soviet Mig 15, building mobiles, building structures with our green metal Meccano-sets and drawing. Creativity and introspection served her well as a diversion. She wasn’t really interested in my local-boy world, rousting and persuing street adventures. Many of her paintings reflect this surrealistically that could best be described as introspective and psychological.
In contrast, I take more after my father and see the world as a long-term iteration towards practical ends. I used to find an escape from the marital turmoil at home by spending time on the street where I often took on leadership among some of the other boys in our neighbourhood. I would build huts by digging deep holes and scrounge lumber to construct load-bearing roofs with a smoke-emitting chimney. I would top off the roof with soil and then camouflage it by growing strawberries on it. I once built a raft by cutting down poplar trees in our backyard to cross the local canal or went fishing for tadpoles in the local ditches. The poplars turned out to be far too heavy to float, but I made it across with water up to my neck.
Subsequent years saw a consistent growth of the business marketing and selling Rust-Anode.
The unexpected explosive growth of the business didn’t happen until one day we were told to expect a visitor from Zurich, Switzerland. We knew it would be important, because he worked at the US Consulate in Zurich and would be driving the long distance to Eindhoven in his Volvo, on behalf of a company in California that manufactured very specific anti-corrosion coatings for maritime bulk carriers. The products were sold under the brand name ‘Amercoat’. As is widely known, the Netherlands is a seafaring nation, and much of our father’s business was developing in meeting maritime-specific corrosion control requirements.
In the novel ‘Jacobie’s Wake,’ Mari Kaye’s narrative takes a flight of fancy in covering the years after 1952 and the RAF with a good deal of very realistic and well-informed, but clearly fictional intrigue, murder and spicy sex. Contexts are locally informed by her travels, personal struggle identity, and knowledge of history. Her fictional narrative sees Ken Jacobie deeply involved in Cold War rivalries between the secret services of the U.S.A., Britain and the USSR, where the described action goes international, well beyond Ken Jacobie’s home base in the Netherlands (Holland). Marxism and Communism in the 50s had many elite and well-connected converts at two of England’s most prestigious universities; Oxford and Cambridge. This became well known and obviously inspired some of the political cross currents apparent in ‘Jacobie’s Wake’. Mari Kaye’s time in Malta with the RAF gave her an understanding of Maltese life. Her time in Hobart, Tasmania, and her familiarity with West Point Casino and various of its retired MI5 and SIS veterans ‘in pasture’ all sounds very plausible. Mari Kaye loves the slot machines there.
Does the government’s efforts to frustrate the publication of a tell-all book on covert MI5 operations have a bearing on the publication of this book, ‘Jacobie’s Wake’? Mari-Kaye does claim to have worked for British intelligence as an interpreter for two years. I hadn’t been aware of that, and it makes me wonder.
As for her depiction of Ken Jacobie’s early days in the RAF, Mari Kaye and I have had similar early experiences, but later my brother/sister Kevin (Mari Kaye) diverged on a separate tangent, closely following in our father’s wishes and obedient to his urgings. He enlisted with the R.A.F. at the young age of sixteen to enter the RAF’s Apprenticeship Program at ‘RAF Halton’. There he trained to qualify as an aircraft maintenance journeyman, a low bar for someone as gifted and intelligent as Mari Kaye, and on reflection probably inspired the creation of the character Peter Graham, the ‘Professor’ in ‘Jacobie’s Wake’.
According to Mari Kaye’s script and inspired by her own experiences, Maggie, Ken Jacobie’s wife and Daniel/Dolores, Ken’s gender-conflicted son, create their own fictional alternate realities in the South Pacific, and in so doing contribute an optimistic note to the notion of dislocation, championing inner fortitude, creativity, toleration and adaptation.
In the real world, our father, Ken Jackson, after being separated from our mother, lived with his Dutch secretary and then partner, soon to be promoted to office manager. Sina lived in common-law for more than a decade and fathered three children with our father during that time. All the children’s births were curiously arranged by design for birth in Folkstone, England, not Leende, the Netherlands where they lived. Apparently for family financial planning reasons to avoid complications from a will. What Sina tried to solve was who should eventually benefit from our father’s will. English inheritance law is quite different from Dutch law. Our father later married Sina. I assume it was in Eindhoven or Leende. As expected, and as it turned out, Mari Kaye and I have indeed been disinherited in the will written under a choice for English law. All the children, as I understand it, now have abandoned their English nationality, probably seen as no longer needed after a formal marriage between our father and Sina had later taken place. They are now all fully Dutch.
In his later years, and as his last entrepreneurial venture faded, as competition took hold and ill health sapped our father’s spirit, dad saw an opportunity to use his considerable saved earnings from his international corrosion control business to initiate and develop a local golf course, at a location branded ‘Haviksoord’, on the outskirts of the village of Leende, just south of Eindhoven. During WW2, when under Nazi occupation, the property for this project had been a small budding airfield while under Nazi occupation, where they were planning to build small aircraft. It had at one time, so the story goes, after liberation, actually provided for an emergency landing of an RAF Hawker Hurricane fighter bomber based at airfield B-78 (Eindhoven). I admire him for having seen the construction of the golf course through, under very challenging circumstances. I do wonder whether it was such a good business decision, though. With Covid raging, and both Ken and Sina now deceased, I wonder how long the venture can sustain itself. There is no denying, though, he doggedly and tenaciously produced a great regional golf course, offering a recreation destination to many loyal clients.
This last project allowed our father, Ken Jackson, to acquire the rural lifestyle of landed gentry he so admired, and mix with local landowners socially, nostalgically re-creating the ambiance and the comradery of the RAF’s Sergeants Mess that he had missed so much.
My sister Mary Kaye (Alias: Michael Kevin Jackson)
Now living in Sydney, Australia
David Jackson – Editor of Jacobie’s Wake.
I emigrated to Canada in 1965 from Eindhoven in the Netherlands, and some years later married my wife Lying Cheng who had previously emigrated from China. She was born in Hanoi, Vietnam. We have three, now professional, children. My wife and I live in North Vancouver, Canada.
THE END (But … then again …. there are probably more stories to be told ….)