War Letters Back Home – from Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Morotai and Borneo

During WW2, William Edwin Pidgeon (Wep) was a War Correspondent for The Australian Women’s Weekly. Between 1943 and 1945, Bill was attached to the Australian troops in Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Borneo and Morotai where he was situated when hostilities ceased in August 1945. In his work he recorded the daily lives of the men, women and natives around the camps, field hospitals, race meetings, church parades and some famous battle scenes. As a participant in their lives he drew and painted his subjects with a marked sense of involvement and an unmistakably Australian feeling of casualness. There is no straining after effect in his compositions, which are almost always of groups of figures in their appropriate settings. Their style is quite opposite to the style of the official war artist’s portrayal of troops in heroic action. The paintings are usually small in size, with a limited colour palette and restricted by what material was available on the run.

The following is a collection of letters to his wife, Jess, during these trips; letters composed in similar vein to his painting, yet full of visual verbal description describing life amongst the troops complete with illustrations scattered throughout.

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