War Letters – Morotai: 29 Jan 1945, Morotai; to Daeo Village by Army Duck

AMERICAN RED CROSS letterhead

Morotai
Monday
[29 Jan 1945]

Darling,

I should be home by the end of the week.  I hope that pleases both you and young Graham.  Unfortunately I will not receive any letters from you now as I’m leaving this island in the morning and shall be staying a few days on another closer to home.  I would like to have known if the dear little chap has noticed my absence although it seems silly to think that he should – at his age at least.  I dare say that even 3 weeks will have caused a marked change in his size & behaviour – to my keen fresh eye.

I don’t know where the boys have gone so I’ll use Eddie’s machine for a while.  Went over one of the navy ships today and didn’t get back until after tea was over.  It was an eye-opener of a trip but I can’t say much about it in this letter.

Army Duck
Army Duck

Army Duck Army Duck Army Duck

Yesterday went up the coast in a “duck” (one of those amphibious motor vehicles you may have seen in the streets at times).  It is all so damn silly to be driving straight from a road in to the sea.  The authorities gave us permission to visit Daoe [Daeo, Daejo or Doewo]  village which is just outside the perimeter which is held by the yanks.  There are about 2300 natives in the little area.  Some are refugees from the Celebes and Borneo.

Native village, Morotai
Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai
21 x 11 cm
At Daeo Village
3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-91
Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai
3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-92
Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai
3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-94
Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai
Correspondents visit the local villagers at Morotai
Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai
3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-95
Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai
3 New Guinea and Morotai - 3 Morotai-96
Possibly Daeo Village, Morotai

I’ve never seen so many blooming children in one spot before – must have been about 4 to every adult.  The natives here are much more civilised than those of New Guinea.  Under Dutch control they are well looked after.  Schooling is compulsory and they are taught to speak and write Malay.  The village also sports a hospital, which is under the guidance of a Javanese doctor who graduated in a medical school in Java.  A pretty good job considering the wildness of the country.  The people are rather good looking some of the little girls particularly so.  The babies are cute but dirty and all of them are covered in yaws whatever they may be…they look pretty horrid anyway.

The boys seem to think me a bit nuts posting you a letter which will in all probability arrive home after me.  However you like letters and I’m a very obliging gentleman.

I hope you are just as obliging my pet.  Looks like me getting home on Saturday.  So beware! Beware!  Lotsa luv, luv.

Hope mum’s alright.

Bill.

 

Visiting correspondents
War Correspondents, Jack Hickson on left and Eddie Dunstan 2nd from right being shown around by two RAAF service personnel, Morotai
A RAAF aircrew member draws a crowd with his large box of Life S
A RAAF aircrew member draws a crowd with his large box of Life Savers
A RAAF aircrew member draws a crowd with his large box of Life S
A RAAF aircrew member draws a crowd with his large box of Life Savers
Visiting correspondents
War Correspondents, Jack Hickson 3rd from left and Eddie Dunstan on the far right being shown around by two RAAF service personnel, Morotai
Visiting correspondents
War Correspondents, Jack Hickson 3rd from right and Eddie Dunstan in front (hidden) being shown around by locals accompanied by Army PR staff, Morotai
Visiting correspondents
Warr Correspondent Jack Hickson in centre possibly checking his camera during a tour of facilities on Morotai
C of E Chapel of St Michael and All Angels
LAC Alan John Porter, 134350 of Group 382, RAAF Pacific standing in front of St Michael and All Angels Church of England
Chapel of St Michael and All Angels
Chapel of St Michael and All Angels
21 x 11 cm
Chapel of St Michael and All Angels

AWW 1945-04-21 P9 Official Dedication IMG_5160 - Copy
The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p8-9

War Letters – Morotai: 27-28 Jan 1945, Morotai; enjoying a cuppa

Please make an appointment for me for Donkin in one month

Morotai
Sat night 27 Jan [1945]
10 p.m.

Darling –

Have just returned from a picture show down the road – it is a wonderful night full of moonlight  (and) mild breezes, long slender trees screen the moon as searchlights: fingering the sky while invisible birds pipe a flute like obligato to movies on the screen.

That was the set up an hour ago – but since we returned at 9.30 and had a cuppa in the mess it has started raining.  Weather is odd & unpredictable and Eddie Dunstan has started playing his mechanical letter writing machine.  That cuppa I spoke of was the first we have had on the island.  It is as scarce as a hot cocky’s -.  All food supplies seem to be released by the US forces, consequently the choice has been between coffee, cocoa and water.  Seems that a liberty ship brought some stores in today.  Hence a great chuffing of choofers* as the gentlemen of the camp settle down to the reviving brew.

*Choofer – a device, cribbed from the Americans, consisting of a tank containing high grade petrol which is held into a pipe line which terminates in a coil.  Like a vrooming primus – see!

AWW 1945 Apr-21 P20 CTR
The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p20

Wep self caricature

I’d like to see you and bub, darling.  Seems ages since that Tuesday less than a fortnight ago.  I shall certainly be back before the month is out.  I ask you – will that be good or bad?  How is the little sprog? (generic name for children in these parts.)  Have been looking forward to a letter from you these last couple of days although as you do, can work it out I should not get one until tomorrow even had you answered mine straightaway.  I hope one turns up for it would be nice to make some contact with you.  You’d like it up here for a couple of weeks.  Climate would be right in your barrow although a bit sweaty for the little man.

The lights are due to go out in a second – so goodnight my love.

Sunday 8.30am [28 Jan 1945].  Have just had breakfast – was cooked by 2 terrific explosions – Eddie & I went down to the strip & saw the remains of a big bomber which went up whilst taking off.  A pretty awesome site.  Will write you again tonight – mail is being collected now – Love from Bill.

20
Wep (Bill Pidgeon) wheeling fellow correspondents Eddie Dunstan on left and Jack Hickson on right
21
Fellow War Correspondents, Eddie Dunstan and Jack Hickson in a constant state of hunger follow Wep (Bill Pidgeon)

 

Ground crew at Morotai airfield take a refreshment break courtes
Ground crew at Morotai airfield take a refreshment break courtesy of the American Red Cross
21 x 11 cm
Morotai airfield
Ground staff, Morotai airfield with a Bristol Beaufighter
Ground staff, Morotai airfield with a Bristol Beaufighter
Ground staff, Morotai airfield
Ground staff, Morotai airfield
Ground Staff, Morotai
Ground Staff, Morotai; The Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 Apr 1945, p9
24 x 18 cm
Truck, Morotai Airfield
24 x 18 cm
Morotai airfield
Beaughfighter LY-C, A19-191, of RAAF 30 Squadron at Morotai airf
Beaughfighter LY-C, A19-191, of RAAF 30 Squadron at Morotai airfield

24 x 18 cm

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 – 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