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"Fasten your safety-belts, please." *** Australian author James Edmond Macdonnell, aka 'James McNell'

Stories and Books by:
JAMES EDMOND MACDONNELL
Known as JAMES MCNELL to readers of 'The Bulletin' and other Australian magazines of the post-WW2 period, and to juvenile readers of his 'Mettle' series.

Page authored by and Greg Ray ; page author's collection, updated 5th November, 2010.

Born in 1917 in Mackay, Queensland, and raised in Toowoomba, James (Jim) Edmond MacDonnell joined the navy at 17 years of age and saw action in WW2. He spent 14 years in the Navy and was a commissioned gunner when he retired from the service.

MacDonnell wrote articles and stories in The Bulletin under the pen name James MacNell and in 1948 he joined the Bulletin to write the “Personal Items” page. He apparently contributed articles about wartime issues to The Bulletin and other articles of a similar type certainly appeared in The Australasian Post, The Australian Journal, The Sydney Morning Herald, Woman, The Australasian, The Adelaide Advertiser, The Western Mail and Pocket Book Weekly. Stories by MacDonnell also appeared in the annual Australian War Memorial books that were issued during and after World War 2.

His first book, Fleet Destroyer, a collection of stories about life on the small ships, was published by The Book Depot, Melbourne, in 1945 while MacDonnell was on active service as a Petty Officer.

Valiant Occasions (a similar collection of stories) was published by Constable of London in 1952.

Constable published MacDonnell’s first novel, Gimme the Boats, in 1953, followed in the same year by Wings off the Sea and subsequently by Jim Brady Leading Seaman (1954), Commander Brady (1956) and Subsmash (1960).

In 1956 he joined Australian mass-market publisher Horwitz, for whom he wrote about 12 novels a year. He ultimately published more than 200 novels.

MacDonnell wrote spy stories (the Mark Hood international espionage series) and a series of medical novels. It is quite possible that he wrote some books for Horwitz under that firm’s house pseudonyms. These names were shared among the publisher’s regular authors. It is certain that he wrote under the "James Dark" house-name, as some of his Mark Hood books appeared overseas (Signet New American Library) under that name. Some of the "James Workman" books also bear unmistakeable signs of MacDonnell's hand.

As James McNell he wrote a number of books for boys, in which the hero character Captain Mettle deals with Cold War issues.

Constable published hardcover MacNell editions of Captain Mettle VC in 1955, Mettle at Woomera in 1957 and Mettle Dives Deep in 1958. These were all reprinted by The Children’s Press (again in hardcover).

Horwitz reprinted Mettle at Woomera as a paperback under the title Weapon Raid in 1979. A companion paperback reprint of Captain Mettle VC was also released (in 1971), under its original name.

Under his own name, J. MacDonnell, he wrote another juvenile book, Colt and Co. in the Valley of Gold, which was published by Dent (London) in 1960. The wrapper notes to this book describe the author as "already a prolific writer" and refer to his pseudonym of James MacNell. "Colt and Co is the first of a new series that will be full of adventure and quick action".

Again from the jacket notes: "Colt and Co., of Sydney, Australia, is a firm of unusual criminal investigators. Led by a naval officer named Captain "Cobber" Colt, the other members of the team are Major Bigg, late of the Seaforth Highlanders, Boomer, an Australian aborigine educated in a Church Mission, and Bullet, a big grey mastiff. Inspector Bellamy, a patrol officer in New Guinea, tells them of a fabulous gold-mine in a hidden valley. Their search for it leads them to a death struggle with five criminal Russians, among pygmies and giant crabs, an underground river and a flesh-eating tree, in which the courage and resources of Colt and Co. are tested to the utmost."

It does not appear that any sequels were ever actually published.

MacDonnell lived and wrote in Sydney for 40 years before retiring to the Sunshine Coast with his wife Valerie in 1988.

He died peacefully in his sleep at a Buderim (Queensland) hospital in 2003. He was survived by his wife and his children Beth, Jane and Peter.


Children's Press edition

Page author's Collection
Note: Titles in
bold I don't have, or want an earlier edition.
[Editor's note. This page has been updated and it may be the titles with an * which Greg requires. The formatting was lost.]

HMAS: 1942 (Australian War Memorial Publication) Opening Phase (by Petty Officer J.E.M.)

The “Scrap-iron flotilla” sails again. Short article in The Australasian, November 24, 1945. ‘by Petty-officer J.E. MacDonnell, RAN.’

Fleet Destroyer: Australian Book Depot: 1945. MacDonnell’s first book.

As You Were: 1946 (Australian War Memorial publication)
Prelude to Invasion / Stuart of Matapan / Timor Evacuation / Thumbs Up!

As You Were: 1947
A Cheeky Action at Endau Bay / The Chook / Nestor of the ‘Ns’

As You Were: 1948
The Corvette’s Kill / A Valiant old Sea-Fighter / Not Always at Sea

As You Were: 1949
Command / Ammunition Expended

As You Were: 1950
Undersea Work in the Navy / “Abandon and Destroy”

Short stories in The Australian Journal
A National Affair. May 1, 1952.
Command. July 1, 1952.
Depth Charge Pete. October 1, 1952.
Take Over Number One. February 2, 1953.
The Man on the Bridge. March 2, 1953.
Rendezvous. May 1, 1953.

Stand By To Ram (Horwitz, 1977) Large format magazine-style publication also containing Enemy in Sight, by James Dark, Battle Fleet by MacNell and Commando Visit, by Michael Owen. Copyright to each story is listed as belonging to J.E. MacDonnell.

Valiant Occasions, 1st edn. HC, Constable, 1952.
Gimme the Boats, 1st edn. HC, Constable, 1953. Signed.
Wings off the Sea. Ist edn. HC, Constable, 1953.
Jim Brady, Leading Seaman, 1st edn, Constable, 1954
Commander Brady, 1st edn. HC, Constable, 1956
Subsmash, 1st edn. HC, Constable, 1960
Gimme the Boats, reprint. PB, Corgi, 1955
Gimme the Boats, reprint. PB, Horwitz, 1960
Wings off the Sea, reprint. PB, Corgi, 1955
Wings off the Sea, reprint, PB Horwitz NA9, 1959
Subsmash, reprint. PB, Corgi, 1970.

Subsmash! 1963 (Horwitz NA54)
Valiant Occasions, reprint. PB, Ace, 1957.
Valiant Occasions, reprint, PB, Horwitz 2nd edn 1962, (NA21)

 
HORWITZ NAVAL SERIES:
No 1: Prepare to Ram, 1957
*No 2: Target Unidentified: 1st edn, second printing, 1957 + (Classic Edn No 2) 1969
*No 3: Battle Ensign second printing, 1958 + (Classic Edn [reprint] No 3) 1969
*No 4: Enemy in Sight: 2nd edn, 1959 + (Collectors Edn No 4) 1980 [1958]
*No 5: Command, 2nd edn 1959
No 6: Alarm - E-Boats!, 1958
*No 7: The Weak Link, 2nd edn 1959
No 8: Presumed Sunk, 1958
No 9: Mutiny, 1958
No 10: Coffin Island, 1958
No 11: Frogman!, 1958
No 12: Killer Ship 1958
No 13: Night Encounter 1958
No 14: Bilgewater 1958
No 15: The Secret Weapon 1959
No 16: Target Battleship 1959
No 17: Dive! Dive! Dive! 1959/ + (2nd edn) 1962
No 18: The Surgeon 1959 + 2nd release 1962
No 19: The Gunner 1959 + 2nd edn 1962
No 20: The Captain 1960 + 2nd edn 1963 + 1980 revised and expanded edition
No 21: Brood of the Eagle 1960 + 2nd release 1963
No 22: The Recommend 1960
No 23: The Coxswain 1960
No 24: The Challenge 1960
No 25: Convoy 1960
No 26: Find And Destroy 1960
No 27: Escort Ship 1960
No 28: Don’t Gimme the Ships 1960 + (2nd edn) 1965
No 29: The Blind Eye 1961
No 30: Eagles over Taranto 1961 + 2nd edn 1963
No 31: Fleet Destroyer (Revised Edition) 1961
No 32: The Rocky 1961
No 33: The Lesson 1961
No 34: Clear for Action 1961
No 35: Battle Fire 1961
No 36: The Ordeal 1961
No 37: Sainsbury VC 1962
No 38: Broadsides! 1962 +2nd Horwitz edition 1965
No 39: Battle Line 1962
No 40: The Long Haul 1962
No 41: Away Boarders 1962
No 42: The First Lieutenant 1962
No 43: U-Boat 1962
No 44: Flotilla Leader 1962 + 2nd edn 1966
No 45: Sea Surgeon 1962
No 46: Abandon Ship! 1963
No 47: Conflict 1963
No 48: Repel Boarders 1963
No 49: Not Under Command 1963
No 50: Fire One! 1963 + (2nd edn) 1967
No 51: Abandon and Destroy 1963
No 52: The Buffer 1963
No 53: Decision 1963
No 54: The Gun 1963
No 55: The Pawn 1964
No 56: Sabotage 1964
No 57: The Betrayal 1964
No 58: Collision Course 1964
No 59: The Big Wind 1964
No 60: Killer Group 1964
No 61: The Mistake 1964
No 62: Course to Intercept 1964
No 63: Creeping Attack 1964
No 64: The Jaws of Hell 1965
No 65: Close and Investigate 1965
No 66: Under Sealed Orders 1965
No 67: Flashpoint 1965
No 68: White Death 1965
No 69: The Deserter 1965
No 70: The Duel 1965
No 71: Whispering Death 1965
No 72: Point of Departure 1966
No 73: Loom of Ice 1966
No 74: Foul Ground 1966
No 75: Hell Ship 1966
No 76: The Convert 1966
No 77: Wall of Fire 1966
No 78: The Unforgiving Sea 1967
No 79: Down the Throat 1967
No 80: Combat Assignment 1967
No 81: The Snake Boats 1967
No 82: The Misfit 1967
No 83: Behemoth 1967
No 84: Dit Spinner 1967
No 85: The Power and the Privilege 1968
No 86: Rat Island 1968
No 87: Petty Officer Brady 1968
No 88: Valiant Mission 1968
No 89: Full Fathom Five 1968
No 90: Approved to Scrap 1968
No 91: Attack and be Damned 1968
No 92: Mission Hopeless 1968
No 93: Judas Rat 1968
No 94: High Command 1968
No 95: Hunter-Killer 1968
No 96: White Fury 1968
No 97: The Hammer of God 1968
No 98:Headlong into Hell 1968
No 99: Decoyed 1968
No 100: To the Death 1969
No 101: Execute! 1969
No 102: Strike Force 1969
No 103: The Big Hunt 1969
No 104: Operation Jackal 1969
No 105: And the Heavens Spoke 1969
No 106: Not Wanted on Voyage 1970
No 107: The Last Stand 1970
No 108: Object: Destruction 1970
No 109: Battle Hymn 1970
No 110: Died Fighting 1970
No 111: Fog Blind 1970
No 112: Circle of Fire 1970
No 113: For Valour 1971
No 114: Torrent of Fire 1971
No 115: Guns for God 1971
No 116: Damn the Torpedoes 1971
No 117: First Command 1971
No 118: Standing into Danger 1971
No 119: Torpedo Junction 1971
No 120: The Worst Enemy 1971
No 121: North West by North 1971
No 122: Chain of Violence 1972
No 123: Close Up 1972
No 124: False Colours 1972
No 125: The Brave Men 1972
No 126: Point Blank 1972
No 127: Most Immediate 1972
No 128: This Ship is Mine 1972
No 129: The Trap 1972
No 130: The Verge of Hell 1972
No 131: Blind into Doom 1972
No 132: Fire Storm 1973
No 133: The Iron Claw 1973
No 134: Attack! 1973 (Scripts imprint)
No 135: A Council of Captains 1974
No 136: The Kill 1974
No 137: Court Martial 1975
No 138: Operational Immediate 1975
No 139: The Dark Of The Night (1975)
No 140: The Liberty Men 1976
No 141: The Battle for Midway 1976
No 142: Big Bill the Bastard 1976
No 143: Confirmed in Command 1976
No 144: Standoff (1977)
No 145: The Shadow (1977)
No 146: Death of a Destroyer 1977
No 147: Valiant Occasions (1977)

NOT NUMBERED:
148: The Killers 1982
149: Killers II 1984
150: Jim Brady Able Seaman (1985) [cover - Phil Belbin]
151: Command Decision 1985
152: Choke Point 1985
153: Change of Command 1985
154: Search And Destroy (1987)
155: Combat Patrol 1987
156: The Glory Hunter (1987)
157: Storm Warning 1987
158: Long Leave 1988
159: Short Cut to Hell 1988
160: Final Haven 1988
161: Strike That Flag (1988) [cover - Phil Belbin]
162: Firepower (1988) [cover - Peter Chapman]
163: Clear My Line Of Fire 1988
164: A Thunder of Guns 1988
165: In Close Waters 1988
166: Close Escort 1988
167: Requiem For A Destroyer (1989) [cover - Peter Chapman]

Breaking Point, 1979, Horwitz, Hardcover.

South Pacific Fury, Signet, 1968
*Sea Scrape, as James Dark, Signet, 1971

MARK HOOD INTERNATIONAL ESPIONAGE SERIES:
No JD1: Come Die With Me 1965
No JD2: The Bamboo Bomb 1965
No JD3: Assignment HongKong 1966
No JD4: Operation Missat 1966 (signed)
No JD5: Spy from the Deep 1966
No JD6: Caribbean Striker 1967
No JD7: Black Napoleon 1967
No JD8: The Sword of Genghis Khan 1967
No JD9: Spying Blind 1968
No JD10: Operation Octopus 1968
No JD11: Operation Ice Cap 1970
No JD13: The Invisibles 1970
No JD13: The Reluctant Assassin 1970
Un-numbered: The Invisibles 1988

*Throne of Satan, (New American Library), 1967 (written as James Dark)

* Mediterranean Striker

COMMANDER CARTON CRIME SERIES:
No 1: Commander Carton 1960
No 2: Alias Carton 1961

MEDICAL:
No MS1: A Pair of Hands 1960
No MS2: The Scalpel 1961 + (2nd edn) 1963
No MS3: Flight 425 1961
No MS4: The Doctor’s Challenge 1961
No MS5: Outback Emergency 1962
No MS6: Doctor on Approval 1962
No MS7: Wrong Diagnosis 1962
No MS8: Doctor Defiant 1962 + (2nd edn) 1965
No MS10: The Doctor’s Experiment 1963

*Doctor on Test

JUVENILE BOOKS:
(Mettle series written as James MacNell)
Captain Mettle V.C.: Constable, HC, 1st edn, 1955. No DJ.
Captain Mettle V.C. Childrens Press. No Date. DJ in good condition.
Mettle Dives Deep: The Childrens Press, HC, no date. DJ in good condition.
Mettle at Woomera: Constable, HC, 1st edn, 1957. DJ in good condition.
Mettle at Woomera: Childrens Press. No Date. DJ in good condition
Weapon Raid: Horwitz 1979 (Paperback reprint of Mettle at Woomera)

Colt and Co. in the Valley of Gold, Dent, UK, 1960.

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