War Letters – Borneo: 17 Aug 1945, Morotai; Overnight stop in Zamboanga, The Phillipines

W. E. Pidgeon
c/o Public Relations
1st Aust Corps
17th August [1945]
Friday
Morotai

Darling,

There are us – no signs of my departure.  I’m just sitting in the sun in a state of vaporisation (?).  Yesterday I rewrote because of the Peace, the introduction to a story from the “Women’s Weekly” and did another black and white sketch to go with it.  They should be at the office on Monday morning but I don’t (know) whether that is time enough to get it in the edition in which it will not be too cold.

Apparently Sydney made fair sort of whoopee during the past week.  I hope you kept an even balance and  haven’t dropped young Graham on his head or anything.  God knows if I’ll be home before our Anniversary.  I hope so.  But the transport position is really frightening.

On the way from Labuan to Morotai we stayed overnight at Zamboanga, third largest town in the Phillipines.  It is situated on the extreme southern tip of the most southern of the islands.  A good deal of it was knocked about but it was still the most interesting place we have struck.  Cliff Eager, Capt. Flett (an official war artist from Melbourne) and I walked into the town from the airstrip and gave it a good smelling over.  What a stinking, dirty, filthy lot most of the Phillipinos are!  The women dress in ill fitting and bedraggled European clothes and they are fat and slothenly.  Not a patch on the Malays or the Chinese for carriage and looks.  They seem to be a pretty degenerate lot – in Zamboanga at least.  The waterfront looks much as it does in photos of other eastern ports.  Hundreds of watercraft with  little roofs built over the vessel and with outriggers on both sides like

Image19

A concrete promenade with steps into the water is absolutely littered with refuse the stench of which is abominable.  Fruit skins, dead fish, sweat, every ruddy thing.  The native village on stilts in mid stream would make you sick!

The cost of living is terrific!  Only 2 Pesos to the American dollar – which makes one Peso worth 3/1 Australian.  The three of us had a cup of tea and one ordinary chicken sandwich in the cleanest looking shop in town.  This set us back only 5 Pesos 40 cents = 16/-!

Anyway, we dawdled around a bit more & decided to have tea at the same place.  We had a really good chinese feed for the modest figure of 11 Pesos 50 cents.  Thank heavens we didn’t stay there long.  Arrived in Morotai on Tuesday 12 noon.  I don’t feel much like writing.  I’d rather be getting back to see you & tell you all about everything and to see how the little man is doing.  I wonder if he’ll remember me.  I suppose not.  Lots of love darling – please look after yourself.

Bill

P.S. I got your second letter at Labuan just before I left.  Have had none since.

W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) watches a performance of Jiu-Jitsu with Japan
JAPANESE PRISONERS OF WAR at an Australian compound on Morotai watch an exhibition of judo (a form of jiu-jitsu). With them (top right) is Daily Telegraph artist “WEP”. – Australian official photo, published, The Daily Telegraph, 1 Sep 1945.

[This would appear to have been Bill’s last letter home to Jess. His exact return date is as yet unknown but it is anticipated he did make it home in time for his and Jess’s 12th wedding anniversary on August 24th, 1945.]

W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) with son Graham at home in Northwood about Ja
W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) with son Graham at home in Northwood, Sydney
WEP_JESS_018 Jess, Graham and Bill circa 1945
Jess, Graham and Bill Pidgeon (Wep) at home in Northwood

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