War Letters – New Guinea: 27 Jan 1944, Scarlett Beach; – Casualty Clearing Station

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O P.R. Unit
N. G. Forces
Moresby
Thurs 27th Jan [1945]

Darling,

Am writing by a 1 candle power lamp which as the mood suits the letter may be changed to cast either red, green or white light.  Green is the color called for but unfortunately its illuminative qualities are quite on the blink.

Red is not helpful.

Roy H is under his mosquito net growling about things in general and about the job he is on in particular.  He has to reconstruct a beach landing made here a couple of months ago.  Not the best of jobs in the world with the extremely limited facilities available.  He has just yelled out his regards to you.  Alice comes in for a lit of cracks – appears she had all sorts of affairs.  Roy laughs a lot about it all.  Says she is stinking to the girl he now takes out.

Today is about the first time I have felt human since I arrived.  Possibly because I have done a bit of modest work and am settled down for a few days.  Am going round to the Casualty Clearing Station to see if there is anything of interest for the Weekly.  Should be because the nurses there are closer to the front lines than any others.  Did I tell you I travelled from Moresby in the plane with them?  Fifteen there were, and no beauties amongst them.  After that off to the Ramu Valley.

Filed Hospital in the Ramu Valley, New Guinea
Possibly a Casualty Clearing Station near Scarlett Beach in the Finshhafen area, New Guinea
21 x 11 cm
Possibly a Casualty Clearing Station near Scarlett Beach in the Finshhafen area, New Guinea

We had a swim this afternoon – it was delightful.  Crystal water – cool, refreshing.  Bombers going Japwards overhead.  Lots of lads in the water & on the beach. We’re getting pretty sick of the sight of bare bums & privates.

Friday morning [28 Jan 1944]

Disaster overtook this letter last night.  Roy had borrowed this lamp I spoke of above from the Signallers – they implored him to look after it.  At the above stage of my letter the bloody thing caught fire & I couldn’t for the life of me blow it out.  All my puffing & blowing served to feed the flames turning the whole gazaboo into the finest of blow lamps.  The solder melted reflector and handle fell off – flaming kerosene spilled on Roy’s drawing board – he was in a panic for his work – I was busy shovelling sand (rather mud) over the blaze.

The lamps was a sorry sight.  We laughed ourselves sick.  Must have done me good for I slept till 6am.

Lots of love darling – Taking it easy?

Bill.

War Letters – Morotai: 24-26 Jan 1945, Morotai; Beer Issue Day

Morotai
Wednesday about 3:30pm
24th Jan [1945]

Darling,

Am sitting down somewhere on this bloody island supposedly watching a game of Australian Rules football which is being played between some lads from the squadron I’m with & some naval ratings off a ship which came in a couple of days ago.  I’m sitting on the back seat of a jeep and it’s raining.  I am bored to the point of not being able to breathe.  I can’t go back to the camp as I don’t know where it is.  I must wait till the dreary finish for I’m damned if I know what the blooming game is all about – just seems to be an aimless scramble to me.

Open air cinema, Morotai Open air cinema, Morotai

A Movie a night is a standard diversion. Airmen ignore tropical
A movie a night is a standard diversion. Airmen ignore tropical showers, sweeping searchlights, roar of planes. When full moon shines they can see nothing on the screen, but they sit and listen, anyway – Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p8

Have had lots of rain since we arrived on the island – it comes & finishes as a snap of the fingers.  We all sat through the movies & the deluge last night – huddled in ground sheets and gas capes while planes & search lights sliced the sky.  I was conscious of the fact that the war is indeed not far away.  The pilots we are stationed with are off on a bash to a Jap area in the morning – quite a do so far as I can gather.

Am almost off to sleep – so will snooze the game out.  Will manage a little more letter tonight if I have the strength.

-After tea

Am alone for a while.

Friday 7:30 am [26 Jan 1945]

I wasn’t for long.  Interrupted so went off to tea.  After the meal was invited down to have a pot of beer with a bunch of pilots on the other side of the Alley.  It was beer issue day – the boys here get 2 doz. bottles of American beer a month.  The bottles hold only 2 glasses and the beer is very light – about 3% alcohol I should say.  Very pleasant never the less.  Stayed wagging till about 12pm.  Eddie [Dunstan] went on the do at 6am the next morning and was back at 10am.  Apparently the raid was very successful and with no damage to the Beaufighters.  Eddie got a story out of it, but Jack [Hickson] and I saw no sense in sticking our neck out for the sake of mere curiosity as it is almost impossible to get any sort of vision from the Beaufighter.  You can only crane your neck over the pilot’s head if you want to see anything at all.  Spent another day down on the strip – and have just about had this island now.  There is very little stuff which one could call exclusive to this place.  I intend to leave the boys & come home early – within a fortnight I should say.  Conditions for doing a completed job are very nigh impossible.

Have been thinking quite a lot of you and the beautiful Bub.  Hope he is well & has a full set of tats by the time I get home.  How are you keeping yourself?  Eat hearty & don’t leave our little man out on the street corner too often.  Lot of love dear.  I do hope Mum [Mary Jane Graham nee Wray] is alright.

Love from your ratty husband.

[Jess’s father, George Alexander Graham passed away on 14 January 1945. He was buried 16 January, the day Wep left Sydney.]

Study of ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufig
Study of ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of RAAF 30 Squadron, code LY-S
Ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of R
Ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of RAAF 30 Squadron, code LY-S
Ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of R
Ground crew performing maintenance on a Bristol Beaufighter of RAAF 30 Squadron, code LY-S
Wrecked Beaufighter A8-49 being salvaged for parts at Morotai ai
Wrecked Beaufighter A8-49 being salvaged for parts at Morotai airfield
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighte
Salvage crew at Morotai airfield retrieving a wrecked Beaufighter for spares
Ground crews on a Morotai airstrip gather around W.E. Pidgeon (W
Ground crews on a Morotai airstrip gather around W.E. Pidgeon (WEP) as he sketches at a graveyard of shot up and crashed Beaufighters and Boston bombers
Wrecked Beaufghfighters, Thelma and Fortuna III, at Morotai airf
Wrecked Beaufghfighters, Thelma and Fortuna III, at Morotai airfield
Damaged propellor blades from crash landings in an aircraft srap
Damaged propellor blades from crash landings in an aircraft scrapyard at Morotai airfield
Detail study of wrecked Beaufighters nick named Thelma and Fortu
Detail study of wrecked Beaufighters nick named Thelma and Fortuna III, in an aircraft scrapyard of wrecked Beaufighters and Douglas Boston bombers at the Morotai airfield.
Aircraft scrapyard, Morotai airfield
Aircraft scrapyard, Morotai airfield
[Study for Fortuna III and Thelma]
[Study for Fortuna III and Thelma]

AWW 1945-04-21 P8 Wrecked Beaufighters Fortuna III and Thelma Morotai Clr neg 6 - Copy
Fortuna III and Thelma, Morotai; The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p8.

War Letters – New Guinea: 24-25 Jan 1944, Finschhafen; Barge to Sio

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O Public Relations
N. G. Force
Moresby
Monday
[24 Jan 1944]

Darling,

I was going to write to you last night but learnt on returning to the tent that a black out is enforced  up here – the Japs planes occasionally fly over so it seems.  Some went over last night I was told – but I didn’t hear them being dead to the world.  I went to bed when it was dark and didn’t wake until dawn.  My God I was tired – I had been awake travelling half the previous night.

The balmy surrounding of the beach on which I sit are poppingly disturbed by the exuberant troops who punctuate the silence with machine gun bursts and rifle fire.  Not that they are shooting at anything – they just like hearing them go off.

I’m tired and dirty.  I’ve lost the only towel I brought up here with me.  There is no fresh water to bathe in – I’m as sticky as a stamp with accumulations of salt, seawater & salt sweat.  I should taste good!  Especially as I dry myself after a dip with my underpants – adds just that Parfait de Nuit touch!

1944 Patrol S10 Clr neg 1 - Copy
Patrol, Sio

I have been as far as Sio on the northern coast.  Went on a barge with three other PR people who are in effect somewhat irresponsible.  They missed the barge back to where we are at present.  Although I must say it was only a fluke that I happened to catch it.  I am glad that I didn’t have to spend a night up there.  A dismal spot.  Most of these jungles stink of decaying vegetation & have that dank warmth of a mulch heap to help one along.  Beautiful and lavish enough they may be, with a kind of monsteria deliciosa vine winding up the trees, and a dozen other types ….ed from the branches.  Not so many birds.  A few butterflies & a bloody lot of mosquitoes.  Not the healthiest spots to live in under normal circumstances but the necessities of obtaining cover makes it almost imperative for the troops.

Sketch study for 'Patrol, Sio', New Guinea
Sketch study for ‘Patrol, Sio’, New Guinea
Patrol, Sio, New Guinea
Passed by Operational Censor SWPA
Photo No. MNG 893
New Guinea – A bomb scarred area at Sio with troops encamped close to a bomb crater which was quickly filled with water following heavy rain.
25 pounder artillery guns, most likley near Sio on the north eas
25 pounder artillery guns, most likley near Sio on the north east coast of New Guinea

[Camouflaged Gun II]
[Camouflaged Gun II]
[Camouflaged Gun I]
[Camouflaged Gun I]

3 pm Tuesday [25 Jan 1944]

Been travelling since 9 am have just landed at another point [Scarlett Beach] & am prostrate wit de heat.

These dirty marks on this page are sweat decorations.  As there are a lot of lads writing letters in the YMCA hut I thought it best to get it best to get away pronto.

I’ll write you again tonight.  A few bombs were dropped down this way a few days ago.   Nothing happened however.  I guess I’m ½ stone lighter.  It’s no question that you (sic) ole man is melting down to a soup pot of unfunny stew.

Lots of love from Willie.

Don’t worry about sending letters they will never catch up with me.

Have just bumped into Roy H. again.  He is at the camp I am now in.  Calls himself the “Erl King” (translates into the oil paint king).

More love.

War Letters – New Guinea: 22 Jan 1944, Finschhafen; Barge off Fortification Point

W.E. Pidgeon
(War Correspondent)
C/O DPR
New Guinea Force
Moresby
22nd Jan 44

Darling,

I am writing this in a blooming outpost of the empire – an outpost consisting of a small tent with one table, blanketed, & draped with the cooling form of your dear husband.  He has steamed off & for the first time since arrival is sitting quietly & is tolerably happy.

He has bathed in the placid waters of the Finschhafen area, has aired his body in the cool tropical breeze and has sat on damned shape coral.  With bended neck has gaped at clustered coconuts fifty feet above him – he has carefully avoided standing under them as fractured skulls are collected that there way.

Landed at Lae on the way up.  You can tell Jane [Jess’ mother] that as far as I could see there wasn’t one house standing.  They have just plain disappeared.  It may have been a pleasant enough place in the good old days, but boy, the Air Forces have sure blasted all the charms & graces to high heaven.  The coconuts stick up stripped and shorn & about as long as a 3 weeks beard.

It has turned out not so quiet – the Loot in charge of the business here is sitting opposite writing a letter – or should be.  But then I suppose he likes to talk to someone strange so we have been chatting fop the last ¾ hour.  Consequently I have been dilatory & neglectful of the cultivation of that rather sweet just too too gentle mood into which I had been dissolving with the help of broadcast songs of Betty Grable from a YMCA hut across the way.  Of times I felt like bursting out into “Sing me a Song of the islands” what with the swarms of coconut palms (we are on the edge of a coconut grove plantation) and the lap-lap of the sea to egg me on.

This side of the island is TROPIC.  The hot sweet smell of rotting vegetation under the vine lying trees brings back to mind the typical orchid house.  But the orchids although they are not in flower, at least those I saw weren’t, Hibiscus are!  The whole schmozle looks like a corner of the Botanical Gardens gone to fruit.

Sketch study for 'Barge off Fortification Point'

Barge at Fortification Point
Barge off Fortification Point, reproduced The Australian Women’s Weekly, 10 June 1944, p41; Art Gallery of NSW collection

It doesn’t seem to be hot – it must be hot!  My shirt is stuck on my back like a stamp.  Yet I think the climate is good.  You’d love it for a holiday.  The sea is blue and syrupy as the barge I’m in cuts slowly through to its landing place.  Planes zip most zippily above.

This blarsted (sic) hurricane lamp is making my eyes smart.  My mind wanders whilst I most conscious of the static ache in my bum, brought about by the constant pressure of the tuberosities of the ischium upon the unresponsive board of a box of dehydrated potatoes.

I am writing whilst waiting to take off (not in a plane) on another leg of my journey of which I shall write you at more length when I find some place to settle down for a few nights.

You deserve more than a rough resume committed to paper in circumstances most undesirable.

So lots and lotzer what it takes from dear Willie.

Be good & don’t work
and don’t _______________
“     “     _______________        fill
“     “     _______________        in
“     “     _______________        as
“     “     _______________        required
“     “     _______________

love to you darling

Bill

The light has got me down.  I finish – to spend the rest of the night under the stars staring and sleeping.  You’ll understand what this is about later.

??ou got the mosquitoes.

Goodnight & Sweet Dreams

[parts missing off copy]

 

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

War Letters – Morotai: 21 Jan 1945, Hollandia; In transit at a US Air Force Camp

Hollandia
Sunday 21st Jan [1945]
6 am

Darling,

Just a short note asking you to do something for me.  I forgot about it when writing yesterday.  You will have found an illustration in the hall – will you ring Jack Santry and ask him if he would be good enough to take it in to Miss Mellion in the office?  I couldn’t manage it on my last trip in.

Interior, Transport Plane Evacuating Wounded
Interior, Transport Plane Evacuating Wounded
Awarded First Prize, Australia At War Exhibition, War
in the Air Section 1944-45
The plane is a Hudson bomber.

Also on the verandah is a painting of wounded in a plane interior – you know, the very green thing.  I think it is leaning against the cupboard out on the verandah.  Will you send me up the size in inches of the original – and also ask Jack Santry to take it into Ron Bennett whom I shall write respecting it?  How are you getting along without me to worry you?  I do hope you and the little man are doing well & eating all you should.  We are leaving early this morning for an island further along the coast.  Should get there about 3 hours after we leave.  This American camp is a huge place.  Thousands of Yanks swarm the hills.  They’ve even got between 100 & 200 service women with them.  I dare say that dame Staunton who came home is somewhere about.  French letters & prophylastic (sic) stations abound.

It is very quiet at the moment – no one up in the PR camp – no sound of birds in the jungle just beside the hill.  The silence is broken only by the roaring farting of the jeeps grinding up the hill on the right.  We eat at an officers mess about a mile & a half up the mountain which overlooks a magnificent lake curving round the foothills for miles upon miles.  It really is a beautiful spot.  That is more than you can say for the food.  Christ the Americans are sweet toothed eaters!  Expensive too – and little enough of it.  Jack Hickson gets around in a start of chronic hunger pain. 1/- for a breakfast of a sweet kind of egg bread soaked in syrup.  Coffee of course.  3/6 for lunch consisting of an indifferent vegetable ball covered with a thin sauce, slice of beetroot & frizzled dehydrated potatoes. No coffee but water with lemon, and flat cakes.  Dinner was a salad of pears & peaches with a near horse radish sauce – then tomatoe soup – roast beef & a slawish sort of cabbage & a substance which none could identify & none could eat – all topped off with a slopingly sweet chocolate pie.  Humm-mm!

War Correspondnet Jack Hickson taking shelter from the rain at H
War Correspondent Jack Hickson taking shelter from the rain at Hollandia airfield.
US Army Douglas C47 transport planes at what is believed to be H
US Army Douglas C47 transport planes at what is believed to be Hollandia airfield. The plane in foreground has serial number 100726.
21 x 11 cm
US Army Douglas C47 transport plane

It has just started to rain but I don’t think it will amount to much – the mountain this foothill is part of runs to 5800 ft & has been shrouded by clouds ever since our arrival so I guess one can expect a certain dampness to be our lot..

The boys are alright but I’d still prefer to be alone I think.  However we shall see what we shall see.  Haven’t done any work yet as we haven’t contacted RAAF stations.  Will be staying with one today.  Somewhere in the Schoeten Islands just off NG.

After being very short on cigarettes all yesterday & being unable to buy any off the yanks we managed to get a dozen cartons off an Australian canteen.  Whacko!  12 Guilders for the dozen! 1 Guilder is 3/4 to you mug – of course we intrepid newsmen are in Dutch Territory & now shiny guilders about where pounds fluttered before.

Lots of love sweetheart.  A big squiggle & tickle for little wep & regards to mum.

I’ll be seeing you.

Dear Willie.

1 Guilder note sent by Wep to Jess in his letter of 21 Jan 1945

1 Guilder note sent by Wep to Jess in his letter of 21 Jan 1945

That’s a guilder, little woman!

War Letters – New Guinea: 20 Jan 1944, Port Moresby;

Public Relations
Field Unit
HDQ
N.G. Force
20th Jan 44

Darling,

I am trying to write this in the correspondents dormitory.  Three or 4 of them lie about spine bashing – Others reminisce of their experiences in the area.  It is about 4.30 pm & it is still hot – albeit not so bad as Townsville where on Tuesday the water out of the taps (when one was allowed to use them) was 92º.

Left about 6 in the morning & we here for lunch.  It’s quite a treat to see land after flying over the sea for a couple of hours.  There were lots of clouds about & occasionally you could get glimpses of the barrier reef below – not that its much to see from the air.  Circled the town & landed amongst hills very little different from those down south.  The foliage & earth are much the same colour as that around Darwin.  However it is a picturesque spot as the mountains run fairly close to the sea & are an ominous blue under the clouds.  Long long off above the clouds can be see peaks jutting through – I guess they must be plenty high!

Tried to ring Tommy [O’Dea] but they said they hadn’t heard of him so I suppose he has not arrived yet.  I would have rung him in Brisbane but didn’t.

I don’t know that there is much I can tell you about this place.  Letters take some time to get down to you from here & God knows how long from other areas.  If you do not hear from me for a while don’t worry because it will be purely a matter of mail difficulties.  I ……[torn]…….. will not be writing much under …………………….. I shan’t be able to get many ………[torn]………………d… 10 days so don’t bother ………[torn]………… feel like it.

Am leaving here tomorrow for more important spots.  Have been issued with jungle green clothing – that beautiful aspidistra leaf trembling in the breeze over there will be me.  I don’t feel like doing anything here – even writing – it’s such a dead end.  When I move off I shall probably be too tired to send much.

There were 2 correspondents here who were at Darwin.  Caught up again with Trotter  yesterday but he moved out today.  Bill Dargie official war artist called in on me yesterday & we passed the time of day.  Roy Hodgkinson called this morning & I lunched with him at his mess up the road a bit.  He and Alice are divorced.  She is about to marry the Yank corpl (?)  Roy seems quite happy about it all.

Saw a native sing song which was turned on for Stella Wilson who is up here at the moment.  It was interesting enough but somewhat scrappy around the edges.  Not the real McCoy.  Hardly get the best effect when the music consists of a boong banging a bucket with sticks and another playing a drum like the one we have at home.

Am going tonight with the rest of the gang to hear the final concert from Stella Wilson and Edwin Styles.

Reg Harris who used to work in the office has just stuck his head around the door & sends his regards to you & Petrovs [Geoff and Molly Turton], etc.  You probably don’t remember him but what the hell!  He is not a reporter.  Has just returned from Shaggy Ridge after months of front line fighting.  He very decently gave me aluminium mess tins to save on weight.  Said you  can buy him a drink when he gets back.

Later

I’ve had a rest – a shower – a shave, etc. Tea – & the rest.

All are getting ready for the show so bye-bye for the present dear.  Hope you are well and are being careful with Junior.  Not too much work – grog – travel – and contemplation.

Lots of love, darling

Bill

War Letters – Morotai: 20 Jan 1945, Hollandia; met cousin Ilma’s husband

Hollandia
Saturday 20th Jan 44 [45]
7.20 am

Darling,

Am writing this whilst sitting safely & placidly on a comfortable bed in a comfortable camp.  As you observe I have at last got this pen into some semblance of working order. I hope it stays like this.  Jack Hickson is still asleep – he’s been asleep ever since we left Sydney.

War Correspondent, photographer Jack Hickson, asleep on the tran
War Correspondent, photographer Jack Hickson, asleep on the transport plane to New Guinea

We got here about 6.30 pm yesterday after a strenuous 11 hour trip from Townsville.  And what a trip! 5 hours over the bleeding ocean, through rain squalls & bumps and vague (at least to us) turnings.  Sometimes only a 100 ft or so over the sea & at others 8000.  A dirty trip which caused your old man a certain amount of mental distress.  Landed at Moresby drome where there was only one other plane on the field – that place is plenty dead these days.  Took ½ hour to climb high enough to cross the Owen Stanleys which were covered with enormous clouds.  We then turned up the Ramu Valley but were forced back by cloud before we got near Shaggy Ridge.  Climbed to about 15000 ft & passed over the bottom edge of the Bismarck Range & so to the Finschhafen coast to the accompaniment of more mental agitation.  Took us about 4 more hours flying time to get here which is just over the Dutch border.  Was I glad to land?  Was it good or bad?  No one wanted us as no one had heard of us.  After 1 ½ hours bum warming we managed a frugal meal at an air force camp & finally made our way up to the American Public Relations section of this huge US camp.  We slept here in some luxury.  Was introduced to the major in charge [Richard (Dick) Brewer] who asked me my Christian name.  His reaction to my weighty information was “I am married to Ilma” [Ilma Brewer nee Pidgeon, Wep’s first cousin].  So you see I am living with relatives namely my cousin-in-law.  He asked me how our chee-ild was.  And how is the little pet?  Does he miss dear old da?  Drop me a letter (one only) c/o RAAF Public Relations Morotai – but do it straightaway.  I’ll probably miss it anyway.  Breakfast is due in a few moments. I’ll try to write to greater length when we settle down some place.

Lots of love dear.  Look after yourself, Graham, and Mum.  Giver her my love.

Poppa

(alias Daddas

alias Weppie)

[Richard and Ilma Brewer went back to the US after the war but returned to Australia a few years later to settle permanently. Dick became the General manager for Parker Pens Australia and Ilma earned a PhD and became a Lecturer in Botany at the University of Sydney]

W.E. Pidgeon's (WEP) War Correspondent licence, No. 370, issued
W.E. Pidgeon’s (WEP) War Correspondent licence, No. 370, issued 13 Jan 1945 for his third trip to the south west Pacific war zone.
W.E. Pidgeon's (WEP) War Correspondent licence, No. 370, issued
W.E. Pidgeon’s (WEP) War Correspondent licence, No. 370, issued 13 Jan 1945 for his third trip to the south west Pacific war zone.

21 x 11 cm
American ambulance

War Letters – New Guinea: 18 Jan 1944, Townsville; lousy with troops

DPR Unit
Townsville
Tuesday
Midday
[18 Jan 1944]

Darling,

How’s my little lonely honey?  As hot as I am?  Boy that is plenty.  It’s much hotter here than in Darwin.  I’ve done nothing but sweat & replace it with a noggin of beer.  I didn’t get away from Brisbane on the midday plane as I had anticipated, consequently poor Willie had to be wakened at 3.45 am on Monday to get an American Navy plane to Townsville.  We arrived at the aerodrome at 4.45 but the plane was not due to leave until six so we just sat around on our bums in the darkness for about an hour.  Couldn’t get booked through to Moresby direct – hence the above address.

2 New Guinea - 2 Townsville-21

I was the only Australian aboard the big Douglass.  One of the fellow yanks was an artist from the Chicago Tribune.  An elderly kind of Carl Shreveish looking guy with a long upper lip & untidy dress.  We left just as the sun was coming up over the sea the whole vision was a blend of purple & red gold slashed and scored by brilliant reflected light from the rivers & pools.  Couldn’t see much after that as the sun brought the mist up and obscured most of our vision.  Arrived here about 9.30am which is a pretty fast trip considering its nearly 700 miles.  We flew mostly about 10,000 ft – about 400 felt above the clouds which looked like wads a kapok methodically sprinkled over the earth below.

Townsville is a most picturesque place to approach by air.  The town itself nestles beneath a huge rocky mass called Castle Hill & fringes the big bay which is blocked towards the sea by the mountainous magnetic island.  The airport here is an hellishly busy place – planes of all descriptions come & go every few minutes.

21 x 11 cm 20.8 x 12.3 cm

It is lousy with troops.  2 to every civilian.  The beer position is acute in the town’s hotels – they charge 2/- deposit on the glass.  Fortunately for us pukka sahibs there is an Officer’s Club – much bigger than that in Brisbane.  It is situated in a pleasant hotel on the beach front which is fringed with coconut palms.

Met Trotter up here we went for a swim during the afternoon.  The water is quite warm and we diddled around for about an hour – did ½ half non-fishing & got somewhat burnt.  Drove back and bathed in 2 inches of water (the supply is out off during the day because of the shortage).  Dressed & returned to Officer’s Club & drank nice cold beer in comfort.  Trotter left at 4 am this morning.

Edwards [Reg J Edwards, photographer] caught the midday plane from Brisbane & arrived yesterday afternoon.  We both leave at 4 am tomorrow.  Moresby is only 4 hours flight away so I’ll be there for lunch.  This weather is enervating so forgive me if the letters are both short and dull.  I haven’t been dry since I arrived – the nights are just as warm.  We were going up the mountain in a friend of Edward’s jeep but someone pinched it from outside the Officer’s Club last night, a pretty kettle of fish.  The major in charge here is a most amiable fellow & is taking us up there this afternoon after which we proceed swimming-wards.  This house is well up on the hill and is surrounded by most pleasant shady trees.  The enclosed flower for you is from a poinsiana (it sounds like that) [Poinciana] tree.  It’s a delightful thing with great long pods like 2 ft peas hanging off the limbs.  The general appearance is something like a jacaranda except for the profusion of brilliant red flowers.

Will write to you tomorrow darling.  Hope you are looking after yourself well and are eating up your ration of meat.

Lots of you to you darling

From
Bill

20.5 x 12 cm 20.5 x 12 cm 20.5 x 12 cm 21 x 11 cm 2 New Guinea - 2 Townsville-22 2 New Guinea - 2 Townsville-20 20.5 x 12 cm