War Letters – Morotai: 31 Jan 1945, Noemfoor; Am languishing for want of transport

AMERICAN RED CROSS letterhead

Noemfoor
Wednesday 31st Jan ’44
[31 Jan 1945]

[Note at top]

It’s worth it for a guilder

Dear Mrs Pidgeon,

Am languishing for want of transport and you. (and Bub of course!) My! But doesn’t he look well – the cleber lill debil.  Doesn’t look as if you have been fattening yourself up for me – anyway you’re still just as nice as you are. How nice will that be today – my little poppet?

Camp at Noemfoor

Camp at Noemfoor

This is a stinking hot island situated about 50 miles from the equator & although the breeze flowing in from the sea licks the body with a cool tongue it cannot altogether dispel the sweat.  It rolls with steady calculation down the chest.  I’ve got any amount of the stuff for the Weekly so I’m very conscious of the time wasted in getting home.

Anyhow now that I’m right here in the house how’s about it and a cuppa tea?  Are you pleased to see me home?  Lots of love darling give me bub for a while.

Willie

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War Letters – Morotai: 29 Jan 1945, Morotai; to Daeo Village by Army Duck

AMERICAN RED CROSS letterhead

Morotai
Monday
[29 Jan 1945]

Darling,

I should be home by the end of the week.  I hope that pleases both you and young Graham.  Unfortunately I will not receive any letters from you now as I’m leaving this island in the morning and shall be staying a few days on another closer to home.  I would like to have known if the dear little chap has noticed my absence although it seems silly to think that he should – at his age at least.  I dare say that even 3 weeks will have caused a marked change in his size & behaviour – to my keen fresh eye.

I don’t know where the boys have gone so I’ll use Eddie’s machine for a while.  Went over one of the navy ships today and didn’t get back until after tea was over.  It was an eye-opener of a trip but I can’t say much about it in this letter.

Army Duck

Army Duck

Army Duck Army Duck Army Duck

Yesterday went up the coast in a “duck” (one of those amphibious motor vehicles you may have seen in the streets at times).  It is all so damn silly to be driving straight from a road in to the sea.  The authorities gave us permission to visit Daoe [Daeo, Daejo or Doewo]  village which is just outside the perimeter which is held by the yanks.  There are about 2300 natives in the little area.  Some are refugees from the Celebes and Borneo.

Native village, Morotai

Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai

21 x 11 cm

At Daeo Village

3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-91

Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai

3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-92

Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai

3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-94

Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai

Correspondents visit the local villagers at Morotai

Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai

3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-95

Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai

3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-96

Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai

I’ve never seen so many blooming children in one spot before – must have been about 4 to every adult.  The natives here are much more civilised than those of New Guinea.  Under Dutch control they are well looked after.  Schooling is compulsory and they are taught to speak and write Malay.  The village also sports a hospital, which is under the guidance of a Javanese doctor who graduated in a medical school in Java.  A pretty good job considering the wildness of the country.  The people are rather good looking some of the little girls particularly so.  The babies are cute but dirty and all of them are covered in yaws whatever they may be…they look pretty horrid anyway.

The boys seem to think me a bit nuts posting you a letter which will in all probability arrive home after me.  However you like letters and I’m a very obliging gentleman.

I hope you are just as obliging my pet.  Looks like me getting home on Saturday.  So beware! Beware!  Lotsa luv, luv.

Hope mum’s alright.

Bill.

 

Visiting correspondents

War Correspondents, Jack Hickson on left and Eddie Dunstan 2nd from right being shown around by two RAAF service personnel, Morotai

A RAAF aircrew member draws a crowd with his large box of Life S

A RAAF aircrew member draws a crowd with his large box of Life Savers

A RAAF aircrew member draws a crowd with his large box of Life S

A RAAF aircrew member draws a crowd with his large box of Life Savers

Visiting correspondents

War Correspondents, Jack Hickson 3rd from left and Eddie Dunstan on the far right being shown around by two RAAF service personnel, Morotai

Visiting correspondents

War Correspondents, Jack Hickson 3rd from right and Eddie Dunstan in front (hidden) being shown around by locals accompanied by Army PR staff, Morotai

Visiting correspondents

Warr Correspondent Jack Hickson in centre possibly checking his camera during a tour of facilities on Morotai

C of E Chapel of St Michael and All Angels

LAC Alan John Porter, 134350 of Group 382, RAAF Pacific standing in front of St Michael and All Angels Church of England

Chapel of St Michael and All Angels

Chapel of St Michael and All Angels

21 x 11 cm

Chapel of St Michael and All Angels

AWW 1945-04-21 P9 Official Dedication IMG_5160 - Copy

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p8-9

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War Letters – New Guinea: 29 Jan 1944, Finschhafen; Field hospital

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O PR Unit
N. G. Force
Moresby
Sat 29th [Jan 1944]

Dear Jesso,

Have just returned to our Canvas Palace after an arty evening under the stars, vines, clouds and fire flies listening to highbrow music as dispensed by some amiable sergeant for the benefit of the boys.  It was very pleasant – cool too, for a change.  We’re not asleep I bent my wandering brain to appreciation of the note.

12

We returned with the help of fireflies to where Hodgkinson promptly lies down “dreaming my love of thee,” The bastard’s bats!

Am moving out tomorrow on my way to the upper end of Ramu Valley.  Should be able to get the best of possible stuff up there.  Seems a year since I left home – all recollections of the lawn mowing week are vague and almost remote. I’ve packed so much into my popping eyes in the last fortnight.  Roy will be staying on down here completing his magnus opus.  I shall probably meet [William (Bill)] Dargie up there.  Which reminds me I saw a par. in “Guinea Gold” (the soldiers’ paper) that there has been a wonderful stink about the Archibald Prize award.  Nothing like a lively bout between artists. [The 1944 prize was awarded to William Dobell with a portrait of Joshua Smith which was being challenged in court as not a portrait but a caricature. The award to Dobell was eventually upheld.]

Dental examination at a filed hospital in the Ramu Valley, New G

Dental examination at a Field Hospital near Scarlett Beach in the Finschhafen area, New Guinea

Went over to a field hospital today but didn’t get much out of it – most of those places are all the same.  Managed to make a note of the dental corner.  A picture of a soldier getting his teeth drilled may strike a sympathetic chord in the Weekly’s readers.  Undoubtedly the most momentous occasion of the day was the decent shower I had up there.  It was the first time I have had a proper wash since arriving in this area – Boy!  Was it good. – For ½ hour anyway.  After that I was as sweaty as ever.

I may be able to settle down to a better letter when I have this Tower of Babble.  In the other areas I shall probably be alone.

Will write you in a couple of days – all my love darling.

Not too much hops, mark you and feet up.  Regards to all More love from Willie

(written on side)

Enclosed petals look like hibiscus but are off a tree nothing like.  It was apricot colour when I picked it.  There’s a brilliant blue butterfly floating round dis ‘ere camp.

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War Letters – New Guinea: 28 Jan 1944, Finschhafen; Scarlett Beach, on the nose

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O P.R. Unit
N. G. Forces
Moresby
28th Frid
[28 Jan 1944]

Darling,

We have another lamp – scrounged from the same poor simple soul from whom we borrowed the remains of last night’s signal lamp.

Roy sits opposite writing his new sweetie (brunette & beautiful and with husband in internment camp) and punctuating the oppressing stillness of the night with requests regarding the correctitude of his spelling.  The old garrulity with less physical actions.  He writes like he talks – it pours out of him, pages flash past on the blink of an eye.

I haven’t had a clean shirt on since I hit Finschafen.  The one I wear at present has the odour & appearance of a tarpaulin from one of Gearin O’Riordan’s trucks.  The other is still wet from its rinsing in a creek down by the beach.  Although I am as pleasant a little nosegay as one would find in many a week.  A European Gorgonzola would walk away from me with a peg on its snout.

19

Now that the lamp is here I find myself regretting not having brought that New Testament with me as with its kindly simplicity I could have killed a few hours before sealing myself up in the meat safe up yonder bank.

You have guessed, I hope my uninspiring letters are due to the overwhelming enervation of the tropics plus the lack of comfort in the tent.  I’m sitting on an oil drum with grinds of flesh off my behind, my eyes are full of coral dust – I’m due to start turning yellow from surfeit of Atabrin tablets (to suppress malarial infection) from neglect of taking salt tablets which they say are necessary to counteract the excessive loss of bodily salt in sweat, and God knows what else. The half if me that is alive is tolerably happy.

I don’t know particularly what to draw as under the present conditions camp life is practically synonymous with that in the N.T. Make it all green & the jobs done.

Went about 8 miles down the Road this afternoon – hitch hiked in half a dozen different trucks.  May just have well flown as I was in the air at least half the time.

4

I forgot to give you a rough idea of what I look like in jungle green & American garters.  Of course the Japs just flee squealing for the son of Heaven at such an apparition.

5

Scarlet Beach

In front of me is a picture reconstruction of a beach landing for official War Artist Cpt R C Hodgkinson Military History Section.

6

The light is going out for want of kerosene.  Bugger me – this is the sort of thing that slays one!  I can just see you now.  Everything is going black – it’s quite black now.

Later – we have managed to get some more kerosene, whacko the diddle-o!  I’m not smelling any better – even the skunks are moving out.  I don’t’ mind that so much but I seem to be bringing in the flies.  Soon I shall thwart them in my little meat safe.

7

Am putting off going to the blarsted hammock.  12 hours of posing in various uncomfortable postures is much too much of a good thing even for a body like mine – “booful hunk of a man! These are the basic positions.

8

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War Letters – Morotai: 27-28 Jan 1945, Morotai; enjoying a cuppa

Please make an appointment for me for Donkin in one month

Morotai
Sat night 27 Jan [1945]
10 p.m.

Darling –

Have just returned from a picture show down the road – it is a wonderful night full of moonlight  (and) mild breezes, long slender trees screen the moon as searchlights: fingering the sky while invisible birds pipe a flute like obligato to movies on the screen.

That was the set up an hour ago – but since we returned at 9.30 and had a cuppa in the mess it has started raining.  Weather is odd & unpredictable and Eddie Dunstan has started playing his mechanical letter writing machine.  That cuppa I spoke of was the first we have had on the island.  It is as scarce as a hot cocky’s -.  All food supplies seem to be released by the US forces, consequently the choice has been between coffee, cocoa and water.  Seems that a liberty ship brought some stores in today.  Hence a great chuffing of choofers* as the gentlemen of the camp settle down to the reviving brew.

*Choofer – a device, cribbed from the Americans, consisting of a tank containing high grade petrol which is held into a pipe line which terminates in a coil.  Like a vrooming primus – see!

AWW 1945 Apr-21 P20 CTR

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p20

Wep self caricature

I’d like to see you and bub, darling.  Seems ages since that Tuesday less than a fortnight ago.  I shall certainly be back before the month is out.  I ask you – will that be good or bad?  How is the little sprog? (generic name for children in these parts.)  Have been looking forward to a letter from you these last couple of days although as you do, can work it out I should not get one until tomorrow even had you answered mine straightaway.  I hope one turns up for it would be nice to make some contact with you.  You’d like it up here for a couple of weeks.  Climate would be right in your barrow although a bit sweaty for the little man.

The lights are due to go out in a second – so goodnight my love.

Sunday 8.30am [28 Jan 1945].  Have just had breakfast – was cooked by 2 terrific explosions – Eddie & I went down to the strip & saw the remains of a big bomber which went up whilst taking off.  A pretty awesome site.  Will write you again tonight – mail is being collected now – Love from Bill.

20

Wep (Bill Pidgeon) wheeling fellow correspondents Eddie Dunstan on left and Jack Hickson on right

21

Fellow War Correspondents, Eddie Dunstan and Jack Hickson in a constant state of hunger follow Wep (Bill Pidgeon)

 

Ground crew at Morotai airfield take a refreshment break courtes

Ground crew at Morotai airfield take a refreshment break courtesy of the American Red Cross

21 x 11 cm

Morotai airfield

Ground staff, Morotai airfield with a Bristol Beaufighter

Ground staff, Morotai airfield with a Bristol Beaufighter

Ground staff, Morotai airfield

Ground staff, Morotai airfield

Ground Staff, Morotai

Ground Staff, Morotai; The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p9

24 x 18 cm

Truck, Morotai Airfield

24 x 18 cm

Morotai airfield

Beaughfighter LY-C, A19-191, of RAAF 30 Squadron at Morotai airf

Beaughfighter LY-C, A19-191, of RAAF 30 Squadron at Morotai airfield

24 x 18 cm

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War Letters – New Guinea: 27 Jan 1944, Scarlett Beach; – Casualty Clearing Station

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O P.R. Unit
N. G. Forces
Moresby
Thurs 27th Jan [1945]

Darling,

Am writing by a 1 candle power lamp which as the mood suits the letter may be changed to cast either red, green or white light.  Green is the color called for but unfortunately its illuminative qualities are quite on the blink.

Red is not helpful.

Roy H is under his mosquito net growling about things in general and about the job he is on in particular.  He has to reconstruct a beach landing made here a couple of months ago.  Not the best of jobs in the world with the extremely limited facilities available.  He has just yelled out his regards to you.  Alice comes in for a lit of cracks – appears she had all sorts of affairs.  Roy laughs a lot about it all.  Says she is stinking to the girl he now takes out.

Today is about the first time I have felt human since I arrived.  Possibly because I have done a bit of modest work and am settled down for a few days.  Am going round to the Casualty Clearing Station to see if there is anything of interest for the Weekly.  Should be because the nurses there are closer to the front lines than any others.  Did I tell you I travelled from Moresby in the plane with them?  Fifteen there were, and no beauties amongst them.  After that off to the Ramu Valley.

Filed Hospital in the Ramu Valley, New Guinea

Possibly a Casualty Clearing Station near Scarlett Beach in the Finshhafen area, New Guinea

21 x 11 cm

Possibly a Casualty Clearing Station near Scarlett Beach in the Finshhafen area, New Guinea

We had a swim this afternoon – it was delightful.  Crystal water – cool, refreshing.  Bombers going Japwards overhead.  Lots of lads in the water & on the beach. We’re getting pretty sick of the sight of bare bums & privates.

Friday morning [28 Jan 1944]

Disaster overtook this letter last night.  Roy had borrowed this lamp I spoke of above from the Signallers – they implored him to look after it.  At the above stage of my letter the bloody thing caught fire & I couldn’t for the life of me blow it out.  All my puffing & blowing served to feed the flames turning the whole gazaboo into the finest of blow lamps.  The solder melted reflector and handle fell off – flaming kerosene spilled on Roy’s drawing board – he was in a panic for his work – I was busy shovelling sand (rather mud) over the blaze.

The lamps was a sorry sight.  We laughed ourselves sick.  Must have done me good for I slept till 6am.

Lots of love darling – Taking it easy?

Bill.

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War Letters – New Guinea: 26 Jan 1944, Finschhafen; Scarlett Beach, snug as a bug

W.E. Pidgeon
C/o P R Unit
N. G. Forces
Moresby
Wed 25th 26th or 27th
[26 Jan 1944]

Darling,

How would you be feeling this morning?  Taking it easy on the verandah?  Keeping the mosquitoes off?  I am managing that quite well now that I have commandeered a decent American hammock from the P. Relations.

Hammock with built in mosquito net and rain roof

Hammock with built in mosquito net and rain roof

A legitimate transaction I hasten to add it’s a very flash doover – a hammock with waterproof roof and walls of mosquito net joined together with zippers.  In I hops & does myself up like a ruddy meat safe while the anoppeles wave frustrated stingers without.

24 x 18 cm 24 x 18 cm 24 x 18 cm 24 x 18 cm

Am in another camp again.  Have pitched tent with Roy Hodgkinson & another fellow.  I’m praising the place when I say it’s a pretty dreary joint.  I’m told it is typical of a forward site.  No lights, so these letters are written hastily after tea.  I haven’t done a drawing in your letters yet because I’ve been too b- sour.  Last night I slept or rather attempted to, on a bed of coral covered with a ground sheet and a blanket.

US Post Office APO322, Finschhafen, New Guinea

US Post Office APO322, Finschhafen, New Guinea

A Matilda tank near Finschhafen, New Guinea

A Matilda tank near Finschhafen, New Guinea

Trucks coming & going all night & 3 air raid alerts.  I suppose I managed a couple of hours shuteye before my hip bone wore through the skin like a hole in the heel of a sock. That’s 2 nights out of 4 I have been awake since I arrived on the northern coast of N. Guinea.  Haven’t done much work so far for the simple reason I have not been able to settle down. On two occasions the camps have shifted their sites the day after I arrived.  The humidity is terrific.  I wish they’d have this show on down near the pole or someplace like.  My brain’s like a soggy lump of porridge.

After about 4 or 5 days here I’ll move off to the Ramu Valley, spend maybe a week or more & start back for the Mainland where I shall have to go on to the tablelands for a week.  Then back – I hope.  The rush has got me something rattled.  However I have about 5 pictures lined up already – should have any amount by the time I get through.

Thurs Morning [27 Jan 1944] – Not much sleep again last night – seem to be taking your complaint over.  First rain last night.  Came down in sheets.  My sweet little hammock kept it off.

Hope you are eating well.

How did that brew turn out?

My regards to junior.

Lots of love

Bill

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War Letters – Morotai: 24-26 Jan 1945, Morotai; Beer Issue Day

Morotai
Wednesday about 3:30pm
24th Jan [1945]

Darling,

Am sitting down somewhere on this bloody island supposedly watching a game of Australian Rules football which is being played between some lads from the squadron I’m with & some naval ratings off a ship which came in a couple of days ago.  I’m sitting on the back seat of a jeep and it’s raining.  I am bored to the point of not being able to breathe.  I can’t go back to the camp as I don’t know where it is.  I must wait till the dreary finish for I’m damned if I know what the blooming game is all about – just seems to be an aimless scramble to me.

Open air cinema, Morotai Open air cinema, Morotai

A Movie a night is a standard diversion. Airmen ignore tropical

A movie a night is a standard diversion. Airmen ignore tropical showers, sweeping searchlights, roar of planes. When full moon shines they can see nothing on the screen, but they sit and listen, anyway – Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p8

Have had lots of rain since we arrived on the island – it comes & finishes as a snap of the fingers.  We all sat through the movies & the deluge last night – huddled in ground sheets and gas capes while planes & search lights sliced the sky.  I was conscious of the fact that the war is indeed not far away.  The pilots we are stationed with are off on a bash to a Jap area in the morning – quite a do so far as I can gather.

Am almost off to sleep – so will snooze the game out.  Will manage a little more letter tonight if I have the strength.

-After tea

Am alone for a while.

Friday 7:30 am [26 Jan 1945]

I wasn’t for long.  Interrupted so went off to tea.  After the meal was invited down to have a pot of beer with a bunch of pilots on the other side of the Alley.  It was beer issue day – the boys here get 2 doz. bottles of American beer a month.  The bottles hold only 2 glasses and the beer is very light – about 3% alcohol I should say.  Very pleasant never the less.  Stayed wagging till about 12pm.  Eddie [Dunstan] went on the do at 6am the next morning and was back at 10am.  Apparently the raid was very successful and with no damage to the Beaufighters.  Eddie got a story out of it, but Jack [Hickson] and I saw no sense in sticking our neck out for the sake of mere curiosity as it is almost impossible to get any sort of vision from the Beaufighter.  You can only crane your neck over the pilot’s head if you want to see anything at all.  Spent another day down on the strip – and have just about had this island now.  There is very little stuff which one could call exclusive to this place.  I intend to leave the boys & come home early – within a fortnight I should say.  Conditions for doing a completed job are very nigh impossible.

Have been thinking quite a lot of you and the beautiful Bub.  Hope he is well & has a full set of tats by the time I get home.  How are you keeping yourself?  Eat hearty & don’t leave our little man out on the street corner too often.  Lot of love dear.  I do hope Mum [Mary Jane Graham nee Wray] is alright.

Love from your ratty husband.

[Jess's father, George Alexander Graham passed away on 14 January 1945. He was buried 16 January, the day Wep left Sydney.]

Study of ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufig

Study of ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of RAAF 30 Squadron, code LY-S

Ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of R

Ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of RAAF 30 Squadron, code LY-S

Ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of R

Ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of RAAF 30 Squadron, code LY-S

Wrecked Beaufighter A8-49 being salvaged for parts at Morotai ai

Wrecked Beaufighter A8-49 being salvaged for parts at Morotai airfield

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte

Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares

Ground crews on a Morotai airstrip gather around W.E. Pidgeon (W

Ground crews on a Morotai airstrip gather around W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) as he sketches at a graveyard of shot up and crashed Beaufighters and Boston bombers

Wrecked Beaufghfighters, Thelma and Fortuna III, at Morotai airf

Wrecked Beaufghfighters, Thelma and Fortuna III, at Morotai airfield

Damaged propellor blades from crash landings in an aircraft srap

Damaged propellor blades from crash landings in an aircraft scrapyard at Morotai airfield

Detail study of wrecked Beaufighters nick named Thelma and Fortu

Detail study of wrecked Beaufighters nick named Thelma and Fortuna III, in an aircraft scrapyard of wrecked Beaufighters and Douglas Boston bombers at the Morotai airfield.

Aircraft scrapyard, Morotai airfield

Aircraft scrapyard, Morotai airfield

[Study for Fortuna III and Thelma]

[Study for Fortuna III and Thelma]

AWW 1945-04-21 P8 Wrecked Beaufighters Fortuna III and Thelma Morotai Clr neg 6 - Copy

Fortuna III and Thelma, Morotai; The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p8.

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War Letters – New Guinea: 24-25 Jan 1944, Finschhafen; Barge to Sio

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O Public Relations
N. G. Force
Moresby
Monday
[24 Jan 1944]

Darling,

I was going to write to you last night but learnt on returning to the tent that a black out is enforced  up here – the Japs planes occasionally fly over so it seems.  Some went over last night I was told – but I didn’t hear them being dead to the world.  I went to bed when it was dark and didn’t wake until dawn.  My God I was tired – I had been awake travelling half the previous night.

The balmy surrounding of the beach on which I sit are poppingly disturbed by the exuberant troops who punctuate the silence with machine gun bursts and rifle fire.  Not that they are shooting at anything – they just like hearing them go off.

I’m tired and dirty.  I’ve lost the only towel I brought up here with me.  There is no fresh water to bathe in – I’m as sticky as a stamp with accumulations of salt, seawater & salt sweat.  I should taste good!  Especially as I dry myself after a dip with my underpants – adds just that Parfait de Nuit touch!

1944 Patrol S10 Clr neg 1 - Copy

Patrol, Sio

I have been as far as Sio on the northern coast.  Went on a barge with three other PR people who are in effect somewhat irresponsible.  They missed the barge back to where we are at present.  Although I must say it was only a fluke that I happened to catch it.  I am glad that I didn’t have to spend a night up there.  A dismal spot.  Most of these jungles stink of decaying vegetation & have that dank warmth of a mulch heap to help one along.  Beautiful and lavish enough they may be, with a kind of monsteria deliciosa vine winding up the trees, and a dozen other types ….ed from the branches.  Not so many birds.  A few butterflies & a bloody lot of mosquitoes.  Not the healthiest spots to live in under normal circumstances but the necessities of obtaining cover makes it almost imperative for the troops.

Sketch study for 'Patrol, Sio', New Guinea

Sketch study for ‘Patrol, Sio’, New Guinea

Patrol, Sio, New Guinea

Passed by Operational Censor SWPA
Photo No. MNG 893
New Guinea – A bomb scarred area at Sio with troops encamped close to a bomb crater which was quickly filled with water following heavy rain.

25 pounder artillery guns, most likley near Sio on the north eas

25 pounder artillery guns, most likley near Sio on the north east coast of New Guinea

[Camouflaged Gun II]

[Camouflaged Gun II]

[Camouflaged Gun I]

[Camouflaged Gun I]

3 pm Tuesday [25 Jan 1944]

Been travelling since 9 am have just landed at another point [Scarlett Beach] & am prostrate wit de heat.

These dirty marks on this page are sweat decorations.  As there are a lot of lads writing letters in the YMCA hut I thought it best to get it best to get away pronto.

I’ll write you again tonight.  A few bombs were dropped down this way a few days ago.   Nothing happened however.  I guess I’m ½ stone lighter.  It’s no question that you (sic) ole man is melting down to a soup pot of unfunny stew.

Lots of love from Willie.

Don’t worry about sending letters they will never catch up with me.

Have just bumped into Roy H. again.  He is at the camp I am now in.  Calls himself the “Erl King” (translates into the oil paint king).

More love.

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War Letters – New Guinea: 22 Jan 1944, Finschhafen; Barge off Fortification Point

W.E. Pidgeon
(War Correspondent)
C/O DPR
New Guinea Force
Moresby
22nd Jan 44

Darling,

I am writing this in a blooming outpost of the empire – an outpost consisting of a small tent with one table, blanketed, & draped with the cooling form of your dear husband.  He has steamed off & for the first time since arrival is sitting quietly & is tolerably happy.

He has bathed in the placid waters of the Finschhafen area, has aired his body in the cool tropical breeze and has sat on damned shape coral.  With bended neck has gaped at clustered coconuts fifty feet above him – he has carefully avoided standing under them as fractured skulls are collected that there way.

Landed at Lae on the way up.  You can tell Jane [Jess' mother] that as far as I could see there wasn’t one house standing.  They have just plain disappeared.  It may have been a pleasant enough place in the good old days, but boy, the Air Forces have sure blasted all the charms & graces to high heaven.  The coconuts stick up stripped and shorn & about as long as a 3 weeks beard.

It has turned out not so quiet – the Loot in charge of the business here is sitting opposite writing a letter – or should be.  But then I suppose he likes to talk to someone strange so we have been chatting fop the last ¾ hour.  Consequently I have been dilatory & neglectful of the cultivation of that rather sweet just too too gentle mood into which I had been dissolving with the help of broadcast songs of Betty Grable from a YMCA hut across the way.  Of times I felt like bursting out into “Sing me a Song of the islands” what with the swarms of coconut palms (we are on the edge of a coconut grove plantation) and the lap-lap of the sea to egg me on.

This side of the island is TROPIC.  The hot sweet smell of rotting vegetation under the vine lying trees brings back to mind the typical orchid house.  But the orchids although they are not in flower, at least those I saw weren’t, Hibiscus are!  The whole schmozle looks like a corner of the Botanical Gardens gone to fruit.

Sketch study for 'Barge off Fortification Point'

Barge at Fortification Point

Barge off Fortification Point, reproduced The Australian Women’s Weekly, 10 June 1944, p41; Art Gallery of NSW collection

It doesn’t seem to be hot – it must be hot!  My shirt is stuck on my back like a stamp.  Yet I think the climate is good.  You’d love it for a holiday.  The sea is blue and syrupy as the barge I’m in cuts slowly through to its landing place.  Planes zip most zippily above.

This blarsted (sic) hurricane lamp is making my eyes smart.  My mind wanders whilst I most conscious of the static ache in my bum, brought about by the constant pressure of the tuberosities of the ischium upon the unresponsive board of a box of dehydrated potatoes.

I am writing whilst waiting to take off (not in a plane) on another leg of my journey of which I shall write you at more length when I find some place to settle down for a few nights.

You deserve more than a rough resume committed to paper in circumstances most undesirable.

So lots and lotzer what it takes from dear Willie.

Be good & don’t work
and don’t _______________
“     “     _______________        fill
“     “     _______________        in
“     “     _______________        as
“     “     _______________        required
“     “     _______________

love to you darling

Bill

The light has got me down.  I finish – to spend the rest of the night under the stars staring and sleeping.  You’ll understand what this is about later.

??ou got the mosquitoes.

Goodnight & Sweet Dreams

[parts missing off copy]

 

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