From Friday, August 20, through to Monday, August 23, 1943, Wep was on assignment at a Mission Station on Milingimbi Island. Whilst absent, Wep penned a letter to Jess, of which the first 13 pages have been lost or misplaced.
Continuation of letter written 23 August
…. but plain damn silly. I wish you hadn’t told me. Anyway I’ll be home within a week of you getting this letter. So expect a lot of things to look up.
Had a fair trip back. Couldn’t see much as we were flying blind in bush fire smoke for a hundred miles. Am glad to be back and have already made application for my return trip. Hurry up that new dress and look your damndest. Only the two of us together the night I come back.
Am getting tired as I have had to put off writing tonight until the typists gave up the ghost – which they unwillingly did about 10.30pm. Didn’t sleep to well over on the island. The nights turned out too cold for only two blanket over me and the sand fly itches gave me de woiks. Used to wake at 2 or 3am, or even earlier I imagine, & toss for the remainder of the night. No good.
And so to bed. – Goodnight my darling. I hope you managed the anniversary pleasantly & tolerably happily. I haven’t got to mine yet although I’m only about ¾ hour off the 24th August. Lots of love sweet, save yours all up for my return.
Good morning my bride. Tis the wedding morn. Ten years removed. Got your telegram – Thanks a lot dear. I hope you got mine on the right day. I had to get the man mountain1Fellow corresopndent Jimmy Smyth from the Truth and Daily Mirror newspapers who stood 6′ 5″ tall here to send it for me on Monday as I was still away. They say that it would get there on the auspicious occasion. I hope so. Everyone has wished me happy anniversaries. To give the real domestic flavour to the day I have lit up the copper and am about to do the washing.
Am trying to get air transport to Sydney, but there seems to be some bother, a lot of the air services have been cut down. So, at the moment I’m still in the air (i.e metaphorically speaking) again. Give me the works when you dress up for the happy day.
Little flowers for anniversary day. They were a frangipani & a pretty red wild bloom.
Years later in a letter (2 September 1972) written to John Olsen congratulating him on being awarded a commission to paint his mural Salute to Five Bells at the Sydney Opera House, Wep recalled his trip to Millingimbi Mission.
“Was intrigued to see your bright shininess cavorting over the Arnhem Land – Fascinating! A lucky well deserved jaunt. What a place. During the war I made a trip (by plane) to Milingimbi – Never forget the swamps and Christ knows what we flew over to get there. The bloody beautiful birds in their millions! Nice, the indications of what you were doing about them. I can still remember the roar of the wings over the lagoons of Humpty Doo.”
Story about the Planes that crashed in Milingimbi in WWII – Ganygulpa Dhurrkay and Jimmy Burpur and SImon Gaykamangu telling stories about the bombing of Milingimbi and cleanup of the crashed World War II planes by Milingimbi ALPA CDP workers. Produced by ALPA CDP media student Hazel Wanambi
- 1Fellow corresopndent Jimmy Smyth from the Truth and Daily Mirror newspapers who stood 6′ 5″ tall