Wep is married. To the un-initiated let it be said that Wep is one of Sy d n e y’ s brilliant young artists of the most modern school, and on Thursday he took unto himself a Mrs. William Edwin Pidgeon, for that is Wep’s real name. The bride, was Miss Jessie Graham, only child of Mr. and Mrs. Ceorge O. [sic – A.] Graham, of Brighton, while Wep is the youngest son of Mrs. Thirza Pidgeon and the late Frederick Pidgeon. The ceremony was performed quietly at St. Stephen’s Church, by the Rev. R. McCowan, the bride wearing a dainty frock of pink angel’s skin, and she added a white hat. Her father gave her away. A reception lunch was held at Farmer’s, after which Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Pidgeon left by car for Kosciusko for a fortnight’s honeymoon.
1933 ‘Wep Goes Over the Top’, The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), 27 August, p. 28. , viewed 20 Aug 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231434950
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.
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.
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.]
I haven’t been staying at the palatial residence of press fraternity for 3 days. At present situated at a spot about as far as Camden. The weather still holds its perfection although away from the coast the nights are considerably cooler. Poor Willie having brought only 1 blanket inevitably wakes during early morning & spends the remainder of the night between a spit and a shiver.
First day out I stayed at a big shot camp & dined in the big shots’ mess. The food was very good – much better cooked than at above – this is to be expected I guess. Cook would have to be on his toes (i.e. as far as is possible when cooking under the conditions here). There’s plenty of good grub but it is all hash house cooked except the potatoes which are invariably damned good. Tomatoes too are available, as most of the camps irrigate the plants with the waste from showers. Saw two cabbages grown here, one was 20 lbs & the other 23 lbs in weight. – some cabbage! Telegraph correspondent Bill Moore is a keen tomatoeer – more power to his soul! Moreover we had asparagus sandwiches for supper! That may be nothing in your sweet mouth – it wasn’t much in mine either, I was too darn polite to hog ‘em. Raisin puddin’ is another standing dish up here. My bowels & appetite can’t cope with the supply of edibles as yet.
After spending two nights at the abovementioned camp (sh-h-h!) I was transported hither – Here all is livelier. The restraint subconsciously imposed on everyone by the presence of a plus senior officer is gone – Another fundamental difference is that this is one of the few NSW crowds about locally. They seem much more companionable. All the officers in this mess are motor men the majority from Sydney. The C.O.’s face is familiar. I think we may have seen him at the Auto Club. Another officer said he had seen one there. Asked if I knew Ron Gill. Said Ron had a very bad attack of malaria & has been in & out of hospital for some eight months.
Am making sketches of the local race track recently cut out of the bush by the army forces. By Christ it’s a surprisingly good little course. A creek covered with water lilies flows round the edge of the paddock & official stand. A pleasant spot covered with pandana palms is set aside for the horses, jockeys & form gazers. The nags are brought in form the neighbouring stations and auctioned to whoever wishes to buy. The proceeds from the sales are put into prize money. At the last meeting stakes were £1,500!
There is a big tote – 3 stands for the hoi polloi – the flat contains a football field. The course is half a mile. A commentator’s stand is behind the winning post. Judges’ box and result board just like Randwick. It’s bloody staggering. I believe the sight of the north, is the numbers of two up games being played on the flat. About 50 schools at one time. And the thousands of bottles of LOLLY WATER emptied down the parched army throats. It is reputed to be impossible to step between them.
This afternoon I emerged as a both a public entertainer & benefactor. I appeared as the only live artist left in the territory. I sat & worked before the bewildered gaze of at least 40 taken in relays of about 5 at a time. Strangely enough I have found that when these things become unavoidable I could settle down a bit. Not much though. Obviously I will get accustomed to it.
There is a magnificent canteen run by the publican of that new pub set back from the footpath on Botany Rd at Mascot. Pub on the right on the way out to Brighton. Dozens of tins of asparagus – plenty cigs, tobacco, Minties, Chocolate and god knows what.
Saw another picture the other night. Accepted troop behaviour is after standing to God Save the King (with picture of George VI) and Star Spangled Banner (pictures of McArthur & Roosevelt) the troops in a body scream out – “What about Joe?” “Give us Joe” Whee – i.e! “In which we Serve” is to be shown here next week – So you may as well see it at home. A sketch for you, my darling see below – and attached thereto.
All the messes in the bush are built bush carpentry fashion – walls consisting of bark slabs – or more elegantly of the slender & decorative poles of the palms which grow in profusion around here.
This sort of
Trunks about 3” diam.
Or else bark thatched roofs with bamboo strip wall lining – looks very well. The country is much the same as down south. Tropics are suggested by the brilliant green & luscious leaves of some of the gums & these are all small & at times with the sun light streaming through take on the appearance a an apple orchard is climes more mellow. Hawks in their hundreds look like black paper litter blown about in the wind. Their incessant curling & dipping is reminiscent of what I should imagine a plane battle to be. When far away they can be mistaken for the spits. That is, to my poor old enfeebled vision.
The talk of women is incessant. It’s quite easy to understand. When I stop working I miss you in large bundles. Fellows after 12 months of this become quite obsessed. Lots of love my dear – am looking forward to seeing you – I haven’t settled down yet – am still restless – in too much of a hurry to get something done – I know that with a little more resignation & detachment I could do quite well – hope to Christ it soon arrives.
How’s Pop? Haven’t had a letter yet but expect to get one on my return to D. I keep wanting to go back – hearing from you will be bloody good. Good luck, honey. Give me some nice thinks.