War Letters – NW Australia: 19 Aug 1943, Darwin; Death before dishonour!!

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
APO Darwin
Thursday Night
[19 Aug 1943]

Darling,

You won’t be getting another letter after this one for at least 4 days as I am leaving at dawn tomorrow.  Hope to get back here on Monday night.  I hope to heavens the sand flies grant me some mercy – otherwise I’ll be coming home an object of abhorrence with itchy excrescence liberally besprinkling my poor old bod.

It is 8pm at the moment & I sweat like a pig.  No better this morning – God damn it I’ll have to wait until Tuesday now before I know what gives out down there in Sydney.  The last letter I received from you was attached to the cutting re the much publicised Ron Bennett [Art Director at The Australian Women’s Weekly].  Pretty horrible to have all that stuff splashed about in a blasted rag like Truth {Sydney newspaper].  I should imagine Betty is slinking around in a hell of a state.  I notice she is not defending. Doesn’t seem much she can do about it.

Have done nothing today but tour the town during the morning and go for a swim in the afternoon.  The tide was surprisingly low and we had to walk about 300 yards from the high water mark across an absolutely flat and sloshy sea bottom to reach the water.  Another 100 yards or so till we were in water only up to Fred.  Did’nt fancy it much – kept thinking of sharks and the long run home.  Hermit crabs (tiny crabs which find an empty shell get inside it for protection and pull it around with them) lung fish (a small species of fish which can breathe out of water and come up on the sand for sunbaking) were in their hundreds squiggling and crawling all over the place.

Very little to report save the indignation and dismay of war correspondents who object to doing their own washing and ironing.  As OFFICERS & GENTLEMEN they claim a batman.  The Department of Public relations has recalled the original unit which was serving the crowd here and replaced it with a fresh bunch which is 2 men lighter & have issued an edict that the press men are not entitled to the rights of Army Officers who in this respect have all their work done for them by their individual batman.  There has been a great protest meeting – their dignity has been insulted.  What will the commoner think of to see them as Officers choring at the tub.  At the thought of it one goes purple in the face, another grows pallid, yet another shakes as with a palsy.  All by the grace of God are not speechless, indeed they as a body are extraordinarily vociferous both orally and in writing.  Typewriters are running hot, pleas & denunciations march forth in effort to regain the status quo.  I, like Pilate, wash my pants and say, “what is washing?”  It’s all very funny to me – I’m not staying.

3

At the moment of going to press the boys are not holding their own.  Urgent signals for reinforcements from newspaper proprietors have been sent.  The battle is begun.  I have designed the banners – newsprint drawers, pants and socks are hanging on the wireless aerial stretched across the mess.  Each bears an appropriate motto.  Death before dishonour!!

I hope nothing prevents my return on Monday as I want to be sure the telegram gets to you on Tuesday.  If it misses it won’t be my fault.

There is just a possibility you’ll get this letter on the wonderful 24th so if you do take it as a loving wish for lots more of them to come darling. We’ll celebrate both our tenth and your birthday on the 5th.  We’ll make it a real day my dear.  On the 24th do everything I’d like you to do and nothing I wouldn’t like and I’ll do the same.  The boys may have a bit of a party for us.  Have a good time yourself.  Once more – many returns.

And now bung-ho, wifie!

from husband.

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