War Letters – Morotai: 22 Jan 1945, Morotai; ran into Chips Rafferty

Monday night
about 8pm
21st Jan
[22 Jan 1945]

Dear Jesso,

Arrived safely at the address I gave you – am now on the other side of the blinking equator & a long way from home – 4000 miles someone informs me.  I’m sure pleased that the plane travel is all over for a few weeks (perhaps 2) at least – did another 3 hours over water again this morning – you can get a bit too much of that sort of thing.

Kittyhawks of RAAF 75 Squadron lined up at Morotai airfield. Ide
Kittyhawks of RAAF 75 Squadron lined up at Morotai airfield. Identifiable planes are GA-H, GA-T and GA-J
1944 Kittyhawks lined up Clr neg 17 - Copy
Kittyhawks of RAAF 75 Squadron lined up at Morotai airfield.
P38 Lightnings at Morotai airfield
P38 Lightnings at Morotai airfield

This is a very busy spot – hundreds of planes of all varieties line the strips.  Just the right kind of bait for Jap bombers.  Fortunately they have left the place alone for the last ten days – whether that means they’ll be over again when the moon waxes bright remains to be seen.  I hope the Spitfires have frightened them away for a while.

This is a real tropical island – hot steamy and green.  Ferns & lilies grow in wonderful profusion – it makes my heart bleed to see what the plants can do for themselves up here without effort – compare them to those loafing ferns sicking their miserable existence away around our pool.  How are the fitties?  Just fitting about as usual?

These ferns look much the same in shape as those to be found round the markets, the main difference being that the Sydney specimens seem to have been dehydrated.

Taking shelter from the rain at Morotai
Taking shelter from the rain at Morotai
RAAF Base Operations jeep, Morotai
RAAF Base Operations jeep, Morotai

It is raining with perpendicular steadiness of a bath shower – and just as wetting.  All it needs is a Sadie Thompson & the urge for me to relive Somerset Maugham’s play “Rain” – Perhaps it is because of the rain that the air is so mild.  No suggestion of the intense heat we have been led to expect.  A pretty stiff breeze has blown up now driving dobbing spots of rain into the tent in which I am writing.

Wep's friend, actor Chips Rafferty (aka John Goffage) was on Mor
Wep’s friend, actor Chips Rafferty (aka John Goffage) was on Morotai Island at the same time shooting a film.

The tent incidently belongs to one John Goffage – alias “Chips” Rafferty who is leaving tomorrow to take over his role in the movie “Overlanders”.  I was standing outside his tent when I heard a yell “Christ! Billie Pidgeon!”  Had quite a yarn with him – he told us to find ourselves a hole to dive into if occasion arose. – It still rains.

17

The natives up here are definitely Malayan – their features I refer to – their satorial (?) get up is more of an American GI nature – seems to have been plenty of battering going on with the Yanks who are in preponderance on the island.  The natives generally seem to affect long & grizzled mustachios – awkward for soup but then I don’t suppose the ignorant cows have soup. That’s not good – but I’ll see some more of them later.

The Japs are sitting in the hills about 2 miles off getting their yellow bums wet & their prayer belts soggy.  Our brave American allies are keeping them at this respectable distance – I hope.

Eddie has started banging away at a type writer – Shades of Darwin!  Both he & Jack took the knock on the vaccination racket.  Their arms are a sight to behold.  Mine has had almost disappeared whilst they are sporting great red circles topped by horrid looking blisters.  I suppose I have previous vaccination to thank for my immunity.  They both have been at swooning point with hunger almost every day since we left home.  Air Transport has been so arranged as to inevitably deprive us of a meal.  Don’t care much myself, for I never did take to army cooking.

Morotai airfield
Morotai airfield

[Study of Beaufighters and ground crew, Morotai]
[Study of Beaufighters and ground crew, Morotai]
[Study of a Beaufighter lining up for takeoff at Morotai air str
[Study of a Beaufighter lining up for takeoff at Morotai air strip]
Planes keep taking off about every ½ hour – Bloody noisy joint what!

That’s all for tonight darling girl.  Does my little Irish mick miss me?  Is he sitting up or anything during the last week?  Tell him I shall call him to account if he doesn’t do what his old ma tells him.  Hope Mum is getting over all the trouble & is managing to adjust herself to what things are.  It must be pretty awful for the old dear.  All her point in life swept away like that.  Try to get her to stay with us a while.

Yours with lots of love

Bill.

16

3 New Guinea and Morotai Letters-10 3 New Guinea and Morotai Letters-11

P38 Lightning, Morotai
P38 Lightning, Morotai
P38 Lightning, Morotai and a Mitsubishi Zero
P38 Lightning, Morotai and a Mitsubishi Zero
A P40 Kittyhawk of RAAF 75 Squadron, code GA-H, at Morotai airfi
A P40 Kittyhawk of RAAF 75 Squadron, code GA-H, at Morotai airfield
Kittyhawk maintenance, Morotai airfield
Kittyhawk maintenance, Morotai airfield
Kittyhawk BU-A of RAAF 80 Squadron being serviced by ground crew
Kittyhawk BU-A of RAAF 80 Squadron being serviced by ground crew at Morotai airfield
W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) posing with a P40 Kittyhawk possibly of RAAF
W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) posing with a P40 Kittyhawk possibly of RAAF 78 Squadron at Morotai airfield
W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) posing with a P40 Kittyhawk possibly of RAAF
W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) posing with a P40 Kittyhawk possibly of RAAF 78 Squadron at Morotai airfield
War Correspondent, Jack Hickson on left and an unidentified coll
War Correspondents, Jack Hickson on left and possibly Eddie Dunstan posing with a P40 Kittyhawk possibly of RAAF 78 Squadron at Morotai airfield
Study for Kittyhawks, Morotai
Study for Kittyhawks, Morotai
Kittyhawks, Morotai
Kittyhawks, Morotai; The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p9

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.