War Letters – NW Australia: 17 Aug 1943, Darwin; Back at the Correspondents’ Mess

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
APO Darwin
Tuesday 17th

[17 Aug 1943]

Sweetheart,

Am back in the correspondents’ mess again.  Arrived in this morning after a car trip of some 4 hours.  The weather here is certainly to be preferred to that at the bomber strip which I reckon must be the hottest blarsted spot in the whole N.T.  Think I might have got a touch of the sun yesterday after setting out in the middle of a glaring road with no shirt on.  Felt quite sick after ½ hour or so although I didn’t get burnt much.  Possibly the glare of white paper with the sun shining on it may have been responsible.  Anyway, I up & left.  One of the yank officers reckoned I must have been a bit troppo to pick the spot in the first place what with the heat & thundering great trucks raising all smothering dust within 20 yards of me, etc.

At a water hole on a dusty Northern Territory road
At a water hole on a dusty Northern Territory road

Smoko
Smoko – Transport men are seen at a halting place near a waterhole on one of the winding, dusty roads of the Northern Territory.” – the Australian Women’s Weekly, 26 Feb 1944, p9
At a water hole on a dusty Northern Territory road
At a water hole on a dusty Northern Territory road

Working out of doors in the middle of the day knocks you up alright.  I feel positively exhilarated at the prospect of the cool Sydney spring.  We’ll go out places together – eh?  I’m practically certain to be down before your birthday.  If I get transport accommodation OK.  So when you get a telegram from me you’ll know to meet me at Rose Bay. [via seaplane]  I’ll be looking for you – save up some juice.  I won’t be able to tell you much in the telegram I shall send when I leave – It will be up to you to find out time of my arrival.  Put some beer in the frige for us.  Which reminds me to tell you I am happily having my weekly bottle at the very moment.  It’s extremely good & most welcome as I have just finished doing the weeks washing & ironing 3 shirts 3 pants, handkerchiefs, underpants socks & towel.  It’s hot work in these h’yar parts.  The weather is getting warmer as the wet season approaches.  Blarsted flies are banging about too – damn their wings.  Don’t worry about me drinking a lot.  There isn’t that much here!  Even a few knocks everyone and I haven’t had more than 4 real hangovers in 6 weeks.  I don’t suppose I have lost much weight really. Although one sweats to a prodigious extent water is consumed in replaceable quantities.

Have now taken up my pew in the sunshine as I must bring you back some visible indication of the tropics.  One’s colour is said to disappear very quickly so I shall devote my last days here solely to the acquisition of a body tone you will really want to touch.  Cunning little man!

Have also switched radio on and am listening to short wave transmission from the eastern states – whether Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane I, as yet, don’t know.  Ah me – how I am suffering.

Have just heard it was from Sydney.

Am becoming quite benign in all my attitudes – the bottle is practically empty.  My good intentions of a long letter weaken – my sole desire at the moment is to sit by radio and dream happily & nebulously about you.  With the pilots I say “I’ve had this place” – but also I say – “I want to have you”

A week today to the 24th. Oh dear! I wish I could buy you something!  Some little permanent thing we could keep for remembrance of our tenth.  After all it’s quite a while.  If you should see anything buy it for me to you.  Up the clothes, I’ll buy them for you anyway.  But I guess there is nothing left about anywhere.  Maybe King in his second hand snoopings will see something.  However don’t worry pet, about it – one day I’ll find something.  Your best present to me will be to look your prettiest & to be ever so pleased about my being back.  I think of you such a hell of a lot now.  Seems as if I’m back at the going out to Brighton stage in my love life.  High time I changed the record – playing this old lonely note doesn’t help either of us much.

You appear to be living an extremely quiet life.  For goodness sake honey don’t drive yourself nuts.  I hope you are eating something substantial occasionally for there has to be something left for me to grab hold of.

I’ve just come back from the pictures – a waste of time sadly regretted – the Ritz Bros in “3 Roaring Romeos” – My God! What a show! [The Three Musketeers (1939)?]

Have plenty cigs for you.  Looks almost as if I have been receiving stolen goods.

I should be able to write you for hours tonight as I am (believe it or not) the only inmate at present incarcerated in the asylum.  All the others are out on their job.  There’s been quite a bit of plane activity about here lately and they are covering all the news angles from the pilots, bombardiers & so on and so forth.  3 of the fighter pilots I was staying with bagged a bird each.  Nice going.  You’ll read about it all in the papers before this letter reaches you. [* See Note]  Wish I had our coleman stove – I’d set down right now to hot toast & asparagus.  As things are I would have to build a wood fire.  That’s too much.

Still haven’t any butter.  Altogether I’ve had it only a week & a half since arriving.  Oh boy, will I make a hog of myself down south.

Have just turned on short wave radio to some oriental station broadcasting some indescribably mournful dirge which suits my present mood like a tight collar.  It’s really wonderfully glum.  One of these days I must get me a short wave set – an amazing variety of stuff comes over – surely sufficient to suit every mood.

I’m still trying to make up my mind as to whether I should or should not, wolf the asparagus.  The betting at the moment is two to one on that I do.  May as well get something inside me – you can’t tell but that the yellow men may not be over later tonight.  The moon is still perfect – they have had time to rest their bomber crews after the last raid – and they a getting a bashing from the yanks here – which sort of thing tends to make them a little angry.  Perhaps I should remain awake a while – with no one in the house I may stay asleep at the wrong moment.

Only 14 or 15 days before I clear off.  I’m beginning to count them.  I suppose you will too, now that I have told you what I hope to do.

Asparagus is out in front turning into the straight – it’s no race folk – Asparagus wins pulling up, 3 bellyfuls in front of Some Bread and NO Butter.

So lots of love and kisses
from yours
as ever
Freddie
XXX

[*Note: 1943 ‘AUSTRALIAN PLANES IN N.-WEST THRASH JAPS.’, The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), 19 August, p. 3, viewed 16 August, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42034094]

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