Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 28 Nov-3 Dec; Homeward bound

Mon 26-Nov-56: Got train to Harwich, boat to Holland
Tue 27-Nov-56: Down the Rhine by Lorelei Express, arrived Zurich about 9pm
Wed 28-Nov-56: Roamed around Zurich & caught plane at 7:30 back to Aust.
Thu 29-Nov-56: Landed Instanbul about 1am. Passed by the mountains near Mt Aararat. Landed Basra – Karachi.
Fri 30-Nov-56:    Calcutta about 1am, Singapore 11am. Stayed Raffles – saw dress rehersal of show.
Sat 1-Dec-56:     Left Singapore 10:15am direct to Darwin – arrived 8:45pm. Took off for Sydney about 11pm.
Sun 2-Dec-56:    Arrived Mascot 7am. Met by Dorothy, Graham & Trellie – John Boyce in at dinner in evening.
Mon 3-Dec-56:  Quiet day & loafed around – few drinks.

 

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Zurich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Zurich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Ganymed Statue, Bürkliplatz, Zürich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Bürkliplatz, Zürich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Uraniastrasse Bridge, Zurich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
47.371648,8.542234
Basrah Airport, Iraq; 29 November 1956
Singapore; 30 November 1956
Singapore; 30 November 1956
Looking across towards the Fullerton Building, Singapore; 30 November 1956
The Fullerton Building (now a hotel) with the Fullerton Road bridge in front, Singapore; 30 November 1956
Singapore; 30 November 1956
Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore; 30 November 1956
Raffles Hotel, Singapore; 30 November 1956

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 22-23 Sep; Berrimah – in need of a cold beer

Sat 22-Sep-56:  Left Sydney 10:30pm – slept most of the way to Darwin. Plane very empty.
Sun 23-Sep-56: Took off 8:05am. Arrived at Singapore 3:55pm. Saw Ian Hamilton and had fun at ‘Happy World’. Slept at Raffles Hotel. Cashed £5

Darwin, 23 Sep 1956

[Berrimah, Northern Territory]
7am Sunday
[23 September 1956]

Dear Mugs,

Had a magnificently smooth trip up and landed about 5:30am in the blinking dark. They seem to have the clocks too fast up here because it was about 6:30am local time before we had the dawn. It is very hot and the birds make different noises outside in the scrub. They caw and gurgle, and the ensemble has a liquid, gurgling note. Not sharp & gay, as in the antiquary No. 85.

I’m dying for a long cold beer but suppose I’ll have to wait till I get back on the plane. We are at a dump in the never-never called Berrimah. Qantas have a comfortable sort of motel looking establishment here. Bedrooms sprawled in lines round a swimming pool, dining room, etc. Unfortunately we don’t go anywhere near Darwin town. I’d like to have seen it – It was Sep 1945 when I last came through.

War Letters – NW Australia: 29 Aug 1943, Darwin; Back (home) again

W.E.Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
APO Darwin
Sunday 29th Aug [1943]

 

Darling,

Am making another attempt to have you receive a letter while I am home.

Too bad I missed out on the previous effort.  I guess the suggestion I made in the last will still be met.  Yes?

Goody! That makes me one you owe me.

How it is having me back?

Nice and noisy after the years of foodless solitude?

The waiting around for transport home near drove me dippy – now I’m here all is well.

& now How’s about it, sweet?

 

Note: Bill left for Sydney via air on 31 August 1943 (Ref: DVA File No. X336636)

War Letters – NW Australia: 2 Aug 1943, Darwin; Barber’s shop in a forward area.

W.E.Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
Army Post Office
Darwin
Monday Aug. 1 or something
[2 Aug 1943]

 

Darling,

Sorry I growled about there being no letters from you.  Very little mail arrived for anyone last week.  Must have been some hitch.  Happily I received two this morning and was thereby much delighted.

What - No Letters Blokes

You seem pretty lonely poor darling – it is obviously sickening to have to either stay home alone or still see the same faces & the same chatter.  It’s lonely here as a rule when I’m not working.  That is why I like to get out each week to some camp down the road and settle in to steady effort.  There is  a great deal round about here I want to get on to, moreover the general atmosphere of this mess is slow.  At the moment all the correspondents are spine bashing.  Apparently there is bugger all for them to find in the way of news with the exception of raids.  Now that would be exciting if I didn’t catch a bomb.  And the food up here is bloody awful.  Margarine, dried eggs, macaroni pudding, stewed tea & leathered meat.  That wouldn’t be so bad if the cook thought of something besides going on leave.  Believe you me, I’ve been criminally spoilt.

On the beach again yesterday.  Water really wonderful – the sunshine and Freds bountiful.  I’m losing the lolly pink – changing chameleon like into tiger stripes owing to a little semi spine bashing of my own the other day.  Curled up in a deck chair & came to with pink bands across my belly skin where the creases between folds of fat had been retained it lily white line.  Got sunburnt on the flat yesterday – result – pink & brown now instead of original barber’s pole style.  Nerves not much better – worry a bit about the job as I don’t know how I can remember all the different colour & tones of the scenes I have ideas of portraying.  Most of the stuff I want to get down is of the rapid impression type –Much too quick even to get the drawing let alone tone, etc. The only painting I do is to note down appropriate backgrounds & incidentals to the job.  Have written these blue lines while waiting for a haircut in a military camp.

Barber's Shop In A Forward Area
Barber’s Shop In A Forward Area

He’s a hell of a little barber about as short & thick as a fart.  An ex-ladies’ hairdresser from Farmers, or, some say Borrowmans – anyway he cuts a pretty hair.  The charge is 1/- of which he gets 6d & his unit comforts fund 6d.  You sit on a sawn off log in a parlour of the most delicate hessian.  Whilst outside in the ante-room grim faced & spare witted troops purse lips and pen handle heads in the agonising concentration of writing the dear ones at home.  I draw.  Somebody asks how to spell Americans.  I oblige.

 Have returned to Happy Messy.  This mail is due to go off in 10 minutes.  So lots of love dear & keep on writing even if it kills you.  Won’t be very long before I see you again.  Thanks for the lipstick – tasted good.  Love

Bill.

AWW 1944 Jul-29 BARBER'S SHOP IN A FORWARD AREA
The Australian Women’s Weekly, 29 July 1944
Barber Shop
Barber Shop
Barber Shop
Barber Shop
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut
Reading and writing letters whilst waiting for a haircut

War Letters – NW Australia: 23 July 1943, Darwin; Back to base and noisy correspondents

W.E.Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
Army Post Office
Darwin
Friday
[23 Jul 1943]

 

Darling,

Am back again to the old home comforts.  There are only 4 correspondents here at the moment, thank heavens.  But those at present here are damned voluble – voceriferously arguing the toss on world social system.  I’m too weak to join in.  The mob down the road had a formal mess last night (as they go once a week) this seemed – or rather did – get away on us all.  After beer and sherry – we settled down to some steady gin drinking.  Unfortunately liquor has immediate and body shattering effect.  Hangovers are pretty shaking in this here territory.

Last two nights have been plenty cold.  To my sorry I had taken only 2 blankets with me.  One to sleep on & the other to cover me.  Not enough – your sweet hubby was always glad to see the dawn as most of the night I just lay and shivered.

This is a bugger of a place to write letters.  One cannot continue a line of thought.  Willy nilly the conversation about obtrudes.

Haven’t had any letters from you yet.  What gibes?  Too much social life?  Am anticipating one tomorrow.  I’ll break down & cry or go plumb “Troppo”.

Sorry to say that I’m too tired to write much tonight.  I’d like to be home at the moment lying in my beauto bed reading a thriller-diller.  Or just lying, yes?  Are you being my good little sweet model wifie?  Has Tommy gone north yet?

Lots of love and special juicy kisses.  Save ‘em all up for me.  No giving any away –

Goodnight sweet heart –

Bill

 

5 minutes later

I cannot leave you so.  How’s Ellie? Hours?  My new nephew?  Has Sally conceived?  Noticed in our local daily paper (printed by the army) that another Telegraph correspondent Osmar White has stopped it.

33

Farewell again.  Relapse has hold of me – Pray for my liver my sweet.  Tell King I got his little note.  Is Cyril happy?  Are you minding Tony & Pussy yet?

32

Spose I’d better write to the boys.

Am back in D.

no letters!!!!!
in a week!!!!

naughty Jessie

 

Later edition.

Things have quietened down.  One still smashes the noise box, another silently struggles with a game of patience.

43

(This is all very rough I’m saving myself up for the grand effort I on at present here.)

After next week I start on the air force – then may be something on the navy.

Blarsted sandflies are like pneumatic suckers & the mosquitos like blarsted bombers.

More love

Bill

 

(am feeling plenty sunburnt right now!)

Bill.

 

Have lost cig. lighter twice.
Have found cig. lighter twice after lapse of two days.
No grilled steak here.
Tea like stewed treacle.
Out of the mouths of babes & sucklings we had large helpings of prunes today.
No more

44

Love again

Bill.

 

War Letters – NW Australia: 14 July 1943, Darwin; First impressions of life amongst the press corps

W.E. Pidgeon

DPR Unit

Army Post Office

Darwin

Wednesday night

Dear Jess,

Arrived here after a very long & rather exhausting trip which seemed to last for days.  Most of it was spent sprawled precariously over piles of sharp edged boxes and bloody hard crates of gear for some of the posts.  We left early Monday morning long before the roosters started their daily work.  I am somewhat vague as to the cans and cannots of communications.  All mail is censored.

Although I had no idea of what to expect in the way of habitation and country around here – none of it is even remotely like my nebulous preconceived notions.  Trees are laid on with lavish profusion & colour.  The climate is really balmy.  Typical summer days with mild & temperate nights which are really perfection at the moment.  Booful big moon plenty of stars & gentle Dotty Lamour breezes.  Everybody says it’s just perfect weather for the little yellow men to make a raid.  I’ve got my tin hat ready & the receptive trench eyed off.  Surprisingly enough there does not seem to have been much damage done – that is from what is visible now.  They do say as ‘ow they ‘ave cleaned it all up like.  Noticed a few big holes you could put half a house in but no one seems to have bothered to do so.  All so much useless spade work on the part of the nips.  Ninety-nine & then some percent of the houses (of which there are quite a lot) are made of fibro.  These are now nicely aired – cellstexed with irregular holes of varying shapes and sizes.

War Correspondents' Mess, Darwin; July 1943
War Correspondents’ Mess, Darwin; July 1943
War Correspondents' Mess, Darwin; July 1943
War Correspondents’ Mess, Darwin; July 1943

I was sure staggered to see my present living quarters.  A tin hut or hessian hut with rude bush carpentered beds and furniture was my dream.  Imagine my dismay in having to pig it in a two storied airy fibro cottage of very recent vintage and extremely pleasant design.  A large right angled room twice as big as our lounge occupies the centre of the building & from off lead a kitchenette, a tiled bathroom with shower recess & W.C. & 5 bedrooms.  It is all extremely airy – half of the walls are built on a pattern of venetian blinds – you may open or close them as is necessary.  About 11 of us sit down to meals – or to mess as is said.  The major of public relations sits at the head.  The good little boys are ranged down either side.  Food is pretty good – a new whole ham provided last night with tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber.  Sherry before dinner.  Australian whiskey on arrival & beer late last night.  It is hardly necessary to add that this grog was in moderate doses.  The ration is one bottle of beer a week.  I haven’t yet found out about the other alcohols.  Trotted off to an open air picture show last night – you take your own seat.    This is no trouble as 2 cars & 1 truck are at the disposal of the poor correspondents.  A team of American entertainers provided the first half of the show – they were really excellent.  Hard lines for the local lads that they were all men.  It is reported that down south 8 glamour girls were on the show too but higher ups decided such a show of limbs & breast might set in a rot among the troops, most of whom haven’t seen a dame for at least 6 months.  Comments when women appear on the screen are a trifle ribald.  I suppose real tarts would render them speechless.  It’s a rare sight to see the dags yelling out for Myrna Loy to hurry up & die (in the picture “The Rains Came”).  The distances between the various camps in this area are staggering.  I’ve been all day in a blasted car & seen about a dozen.  Christ only knows how I’m going to get around to the time needed to paint If I have to spend most of the day riding to & from the bloody joints.  I haven’t started yet.  It’ll take me a week to find the lay of the land.  It’s plenty hot.  Address your reply to W.E. Pidgeon – if you add a Mr. It will cost you 1 ½ d extra.  Airmail comes to me otherwise for 4d. Let me hear from you soon – am beginning to miss you – There’s no privacy & I don’t care much for a couple of these blokes.  Lots of love to you my sweetie-pie.

Heh-heh – love from

Bill.