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 – NW Australia: 12 Aug 1943, Coomalie Creek; with the boys of a Beaufighter squadron

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
A.P.O. Darwin
Thursday
[12 Aug 1943]

Darling,

How’s my little pet today?  Listening to Janie?  Going to the pub?  Reading to the Watsos? Or just thinking of Willie?

Am at another camp where I stayed last night.  Am moving up the road this afternoon where I shall pass the evening with the Sydney fellows from the Auto Club.

Beaufighter, possibly at Coomalie Creek, Northern Territory, 194
Beaufighter, possibly at Coomalie Creek, Northern Territory, 1943

The crowd of pilots fly Beaufighters, a twin engined job used for strafing the nips on islands 300 to 400 miles from here.  They are somewhat older than the Spitfire boys but are all in early twenties.  The Commanding officer is youngish tall, dark & could easily pass for a brother of Good-O.  Something about his face is remarkably like her.  The air force COs are much more friendly than their counterparts in the army.  I suppose this is so because they are much younger.

An Army Liaison officer attached to this unit came up to me last night and asked if I was wep. Said he thought he recognised me.  Asked if I recollected trying to cook sausages with a blow lamp in the main street of Tamworth.  He was at the dance at Tamworth Golf Club.  Fancy coming 2,000 miles to have that brought up!  Wep, my girl, is a name to be contended with! – A young chap of 23 took me in tow last night & fed me with a few whiskies.  At ten o’clock we suppered on toast, asparagus and SARDINES!  Sorry I can’t bring you any down but I am not supposed to buy anything from their mess store.  In case you get the wrong idea that I am wallowing in epicurean luxury I might add that the usual mess meal is only too often blasted tinned bully beef – (tasteless goddamn stuff) & margarine which no one I have so far struck is inclined to eat.  Dry Bread is the standing order now.  It’s 3 weeks since the troops have had any butter.  You can imagine my sufferings.

Possibly near Coomalie Creek, Northern Territory
Possibly near Coomalie Creek, Northern Territory
Possibly near Coomalie Creek, Northern Territory
Possibly near Coomalie Creek, Northern Territory

This is the best camp I have been in.  Situated on the slopes of one of the few hills around this country it is sprinkled amongst delightful open forest.  Beautifully green trees, plenty of palms – and birds galore.  Dawn is a rare pleasure – you wake to the low and penetrating calls of the birds, and the air is as soft & cool as a whisper.

The shower is the coldest I’ve had up here – dispersed my crumbiness in a trice.

Gave the old sand fly bites their necessary scratchings & offed to breakfast of bully beef rissoles and tinned bacon.  For heavens sake get some sucker down there to eat ours.  I’ve completely had it.  Practically every morning since I arrived.  I never want to see it again.  It dished up like limp ham boiled in washing up water.

I’m afraid you and I will have a few guests when I return.  So many of the lads have been very kind to me.  I have asked them all to give us a ring if & when they are in Sydney.

Hope to see you soon sweetheart.  Better get all beautified for you birfday & little Will.  Lots of kisses.  Wish I was at Darwin in case I get a letter.

Bye, bye darling

Bill.

(Note – Jess’s birthday is 5th September)

Beaufighter EH-Y, A19-70, 31 Squadron, RAAF
Beaufighter EH-Y, A19-70, 31 Squadron, RAAF
Beaufighter, warming up
Beaufighter, warming up
Beaufighter
Beaufighter
Beaufighter
Beaufighter
Beaufighter
Beaufighter
Beaufighter
Beaufighter