War Letters – New Guinea: 15 Jan 1944, Brisbane; sitting around waiting

Brisbane
Aust Army
Officers Club
Sat
[15 Jan 1944]

Sweetheart,

I’m still sitting around waiting to get out of the damned joint.  Twice a day I have to ring the transport people to discover what’s cookin’.  Have just been told that I’m to phone again tomorrow – I may get away by midday.  I hope so, as there is little to do in this h’year town.  I shall probably sport myself to a show tonight.  This morning I caught a bus out to Hughie Dash’s place & picked up the blankets and gas mask.  Took them round to the station and was told I couldn’t send them down without a permit.  Lord love us!  I’ll have to find somewhere or someone to pick them up from on my return.  Washed a shirt this afternoon – ironed same and indulged in a little excellent spine bashing.  The beer position in this town has not improved, although I am told the officers can get a drink at night in this club which occupies an hotel next to Lennon’s.  The City Hall bells have just tolled 5 P.M. the hour of le grand pub opening.  I shall totter down and water the wasted tissues.  It’s plenty hot up here and old Will loses an awful lot of his distinctive sweaty juices.  There’s an enormous number of troops in the city – all causing a great shortage of ale and theatre seats.  I’ve had beef for every meal so far so I think I chew up a little chop for a change tonight.  I shall stagger to the lift down barwards now and will write you a great length tomorrow of my doings Friday.

Had a pleasant enough trip on the Flying boat – unfortunately I had a centre seat so could not see much of the coast.  The ship itself is extraordinarily spacious you can roam around and stretch the legs to your heart’s content.  We had cold stewed prunes – cold ham & cold boiled egg for breakfast.  All quite nice.

Landed on the Brisbane River at 10.30 so the trip was not extra fast.

After seeing the D.P.R. I oozed (that’s the word for it  My God was I hot in that winter uniform.  What with that on & the bright green C I was somewhat conspicuous) up to the Officer’s Club & changed into trousers & shirt and rubbed copious quantities of cigarette ash into the brilliance of my cap.  It helped a lot – I can walk around without people giving me the goggle eyed stare.  Called into a pub near the “Mail” office & run into Jackie Finch.  I think the heat has sent him Troppo.  He gave me £2-10-0 owing from 1927.  Practically restored my faith in human nature.  After a few drinks he invited me round to his Hotel for Dinner which he paid for!  Left him after lunch and walked (or rather swam in my own sweat) for miles trying to find where Nan Mills worked.  Located it at last near the  Art Gallery.  She was very pleasant to meet me.  Said Brisbane was a hell of a hole but was saving money by living cheaply in the barracks nearby.  She looked very well – has lost weight & is a good brown colour – altogether a great improvement.

Came back tired out – wandered into a bookshop and in the desire for something in a soothing vein bought a cheap edition of New Testament!  Meet Jackie Finch again and fought sadly for 4 drinks after which I said bugger this It’s not worth it.  Went back to his room – drank two bottles (iced) & had dinner with him again (on him too).  Wouldn’t let me pay.  Tried to get seats for a show but failed miserably – consequently we sat under a fan & just sat without thinking – just sitting & sweating.  I was about to come back here for bed when two fellows staying at his hotel asked us to their room for a drink.  On hearing I was Wep nothing would please them but I draw them & so it went on.  They had rung Diana Parnham & she had said yes come out by all means.  However one of the lad’s car (a £1200 Alvis) wouldn’t go and as we had polished off nearly all the grog the trip was abandoned.  Sorry I was, for I’d have liked to have had a gink at the famous Di.  Got back here about 12 midnight & got into bed without waking my room mate.  At 6.30 am I am awakened by him sloshing about the room.  Of all people it was Yvonne Todd’s husband.  He will in all probability be travelling in the same plane as myself (i.e. at midday today Sunday – I hope).

After I went to the bar last night, I was having a few with a bloke next to me when a dainty paw strokes my balding top.  This was Tommie Thompson.  So had a few words with him for 3 or 4 minutes.  Saw one of those captains Arthur Mailey introduced to us at Romano’s in the bar but did not speak to him.  Had a few in the lounge here & went to bed.  And that my dear is the history of Pidgeon’s peregrinations in Brisbane.  Did not go looking for dear Madge.

I hope things are alright with you, sweet, and that you don’t feel too lonely.

If we get this plane today we shall probably stay overnight in Townsville or some place.  As I don’t think they can get up to Moresby after leaving at midday.

Lots and lots of love from weak limp Willie.

Lordie it’s sure hot.

Will drop a swift note from wherever we stay tonight – love Bill.

War Letters – NW Australia: 18 Aug 1943, Darwin; Still mooning about the house

W.E. Pidgeon
DPR Unit
APO Darwin
Wednesday
[18 Aug 1943]

Darling,

Am just sneaking the use of one of the lad’s typewriter while he’s out on a job.  Came to after a spot of spine-bashing to find the place empty.  Have done nothing at all today except sit around on my acre [arse] and be bored – time I had a bit of a rest of sorts.  The boys are on their way back so off with the machine and up with the pen.

Sitting around is soul destroying – I can’t settle down to working in this mess as there are absolutely blink-all in the way of facilities for such a comfort loving craftsman (?) such as myself.  The moment of 5.20pm finds me sunning in the same spot as I occupied yesterday and pursuing the delightful occupation of considering your dear charms & graces.  Sweet, what?

This is by far the most pleasant time of day – the sun seems stationary & shines with mellow warmth – the breeze, soft and sensuous, slides round every limb.  I wish it were a little fiercer – this colour I’m after is anything but permanent – damn me if it doesn’t appear to wash off under the shower.  Maybe it’s only red dust impregnated in the skin.  In any case it is a highly impermanent pigment.

At dawn this week am off on the plane trip I spoke of.  I’m supposed to be one of the crew – heh! heh!  You won’t get any mail from me until I return from the island.  I will be 2 or 4 days there – other than the planes there is no mail contact.  So don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for a while.

I’m getting a bit sick of the unsatisfying contact letters afford.  I don’t feel like writing to any length.  The novelty of things has gone – and I’m just anxious to get home – all very similar to the counting of days before vacation, only I’m in reverse.

Hours later.

I’m still mooning about the house – gawd help me there’s nothing to damned well read in blasted place.  I’ve been through all the magazines more times than the covers can stand up to.  I can’t be bothered with newspapers a week old.  The books (what there are of them) are dull – I’d ever write one if I wasn’t so languid – It’s a wonderfully lazy joint.  Haven’t seen anyone sitting down to a good solid think since I left the zero regions.  If & when I go away again something long & heavy in the way of literature will accompany me.

Cheerful, breezy, letter, yes?  Voted today – i.e. 3 days before election day.  An enormous amount of work is involved in army polling.  Every vote has to be sealed up in an envelope with the soldiers name, address & army no. on it – posted down, unsealed, counted, etc.  Probably take longer in this election to get final figures than is usually the case.  I hope you didn’t give Old Billy* your approval.

Later again – have been out for a walk round the town & called into the YMCA – quite a decent place 3 full sized billiard tables – piano – books & all the what have yous. Borrowed 2 books – may keep me quiet for a while.  Still restless – have suggested some supper.  Approval has been expressed. We shall sit down to a frugal snack of cold boiled eggs, tomatoes, sliced tongues and hock.

That operation was efficiently taken care of – we are all now in advanced stage of pre-spine bashing somnolence – the brains of many have already gone to sleep.  Mine included.  Will retire to my cot in which I sleep with only a sheet & the old man Fred.

Lots of love darling – hope to get a letter tomorrow – seems a bloody long time since one arrived.

And so to bed

Bill.

Enclosed find some local blooms of Bougainvilleas – press them to your heart.

[Then all crossed out.]

Would you please write out a cheque for 28/- payable to Hugh Dash & put this accompanying letter with it & mail it to Hugh Dash, c/o “Courier Mail”, Queen St, Brisbane.  I tried to send it direct from here but there are no postage notes available until Sunday on which date I will be away.

Skip it!

Love to my

Darling.

YMCA facilities, Darwin; 18 Aug 1943
YMCA facilities, Darwin; 18 Aug 1943
YMCA facilities, Darwin; 18 Aug 1943
YMCA facilities, Darwin; 18 Aug 1943
YMCA facilities, Darwin; 18 Aug 1943
YMCA facilities, Darwin; 18 Aug 1943
At the YMCA, Darwin, 18 Aug 1943
At the YMCA, Darwin, 18 Aug 1943

[* Note: The 1943 election was won by the Australian Labor party lead by John Curtin with 49 seats, a gain of 17 seats. They defeated the coalition United Australia Party/Country Party who won 19 seats, losing 18. Interestingly, the coalition was lead by Arthur Fadden who was the leader of the Country Party, the minor partner to the United Australia Party, lead by Billy Hughes (a former Labor Prime Minister) who had taken over in 1941 after Robert Menzies resigned. Following the Coalitions crushing defeat, Fadden handed the leader of the Opposition back to Menzies who had resumed leadership of the UAP.

References:  

Australian federal election, 1943 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2013.Australian federal election, 1943 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_federal_election,_1943. [Accessed 18 August 2013]. 

Billy Hughes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2013. Billy Hughes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Hughes. [Accessed 18 August 2013]

Arthur Fadden – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2013. Arthur Fadden – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Fadden. [Accessed 18 August 2013].]