As you can see by the letter head I am back on the mainland, killing time while I wait for transport up to Cairns. In all probability I shall be home in a week’s time. Have a nice steak in the house – and a cold bottle of course.
Will you please send me a page, or about 20 clothing coupons. Do not send the book as the Officer’s shop will accept loose coupons. I want to buy a pair of shoes they are very good and only 25/-. Post them as soon as you get this letter for I shall only be about 3 or 4 days up north. Shall then try and get home on the flying boat which gets to Sydney about 5 o’clock which, I hope, will just give us time to dash off a quick one at Coy’s. [Harold and Bassie Coy ran the Hotel Hunters Hill, a favoured drinking spot of Wep and Jess.]
How are all the parlour geese there? Can Molly [Turton] get through the swing doors now? Got any home brew?
Had a fine trip down from the island. Left at four on a slightly cloudy but moonlight morning and arrived here at 7.30 am. That’s good going. The dawn was really magnificent coming on while we were flying above the great cumulus clouds. The effect was brilliantly violent. It was a Superman sunrise.
Have struck Bill Marien, who, by the way, is married to that girl and has a kid about 18 month’s old. We had dinner at the Officer’s Club and a quantity to drink. It affected me poorly and I am now happily feeling the retirement of the ragged hangover that accompanied my awakening. The rest of my time has been spent dismally sitting on my bum and gloomily reading old Lifes, Reader’s Digests, Mans and other sundry publications.
Have just heard that I will be moving off tomorrow.
If you happen to be going to town will you pop into Moore’s Bookshop next the Criterion Hotel and ask if they have a copy of the cheap edition of Laurence’s (sic) Seven Pillars of Wisdom [T.E. Lawrence]. Also can you get me, at any bookstore a copy of Cleanliness and Godliness by Reginald Reynolds?
Have only had one letter from you so that if you have happened to send others I must presume their demise in the Jungle Hells of NG.
Nothing else of interest at the moment. So accept my utmost adoration. Your devoted willie.
[At some stage Bill visited the Atherton Tablelands where he then got a lift from Major C.H. Cheong, editor of the Army newspaper ‘Table Tops’ who drove him to Townsville presumably on his return trip home. It is estimated that he made it home by Thursday, 17 February 1944.]
Am back in Moresby and will soon (in a couple of days) be on my way back to the mainland where I am afraid I shall have to put in a week or so on the Tablelands. In any case it is certain that I shall be home within three weeks – maybe two.
Tommy [O’Dea] called into this unit on Sunday afternoon after five minutes after I had arrived back from the local air strip. Had only a few words with him but may go round to his living quarters tonight. Previously I couldn’t locate him as he is stationed away from the Navy proper. He drove off in a jeep. Christ, he looked funny! Quite a bleaming blade. Just as well he didn’t have a nurse or Amwas or something with him because on such occasions travel is accompanied by screams, cat calls and yahoos by all and sundry.
He looks well enough & quite happy. Said he flew up from Brisbane with only the slightest of brain flappings.
Bill Marien ex-Telegraph man (you will remember him up at the Castlereagh – big dark fattish chap with a girl wif lovely teef from Rockdale way) has gone back to mainland. I shall have a few drinks with him at the Officers Club where I last wrote you from.
Don’t write me any more letters here – or anywhere for that matter as I probably won’t get them. I received one from you while staying in the Ramu Valley. Sorry to hear you are so lonely – it won’t be so long now darling,
Hawkeye Hawkesley is the big noise around here. The life & soul of the party so to speak. Must get Tommy to take me down to the American Officer’s club as I would like to get myself some few things. Everybody at St Percy’s (as this school for boys is fondly known) has managed to get something or other.
Sunday saw a great organised picnic in the hills at a joint called Rouna Falls. Really very pleasant & falls quite impressive. The celibates managed to collect 5 nurses to take along. No Helens of Troy amongst them. 5 nurses to 12 men is a super abundance of feminity in these perfumeless parts.
Haven’t contracted as far as I know any scrofs, plagues or poxes. Have lost my pot belly and most of the other superfluous fats. Found it necessary to drag the belt in 4 holes. Sweated quite a bit in my time up here.
Had a few snaps taken of myself. They are not of much consequence.
Nothing doing here, so there will be no more news from me until after I get away.
Hope you are feeling well & are not getting too bats for public circulation. Be good until you see me again. Shall probably arrive at Martin Place about 4.30 pm one bright day. Bring the Ponty in & we’ll give Coys a slight break. [Harold and Bassie Coy ran the Hotel Hunters Hill, a favoured drinking spot of Wep and Jess.] Haven’t missed the grog up here. If it’s not about you don’t need it. Lots of love dear.
Been quite an exhausting day. Plenty hot and plenty weak. However I pulled my gizzard up & got stuck into the work of drawing some fighter planes. They’re sleek jobs and surprisingly small. You don’t get much idea of their performance when seen on duty flights around this district. Rarely are they flown flat out except in combat. After seeing them on the ground dirty dented & camouflaged you’d think they weren’t worth a plateful of cold tapioca pudding. But the boys like them.
The pilots are all hellishly young. The average age being about 22. The Squadron leader looks youngest of all like a bit of a school kid. They have all had English experience & are a good bright lot. I get along very well with them as they are friendly & informal. The binge last night served well in breaking the ice. Almost all were as full as bulls. Incidently none of the crowd seem to like the journalists much. Being an artist makes everything so much easier. Tell Tommy there is a bit of a hoon up here – name of Pilot Officer Larry Alderson – says he knew him well in N.G. Gloria’s husband Flight Loot Newton isn’t a bad sort of bloke – Looks after me well. [Believed to be John Sefton Newton and Gloria Olga Newton (nee Metchkoff Larsen, m 1943] I still haven’t managed to buy anyone a drink. One is not allowed to – they insist on my being a guest. A big crowd of bomber pilots were also down last night. The film was fast & furious.
There’s some blasted thing I should tell you but for the life of me I can’t remember it. Guess it’ll come later.
Yes! I’ve got it! Do you recollect the air force medical officers at that party of Tilly’s at which Bill Brindle & his wife were present. One of the crowd from up the road turned out to be one of them. He is now a Wing Commander. He was then a Fl. Lieutenant so he’s managed to step up very nicely.
Flash – last night two of the pilots after a sufficient steeping in the fiery juices set off on journey back to tent. One – hopelessly lost curled up on the floor of a brother officers tent. The other made the grade & work about an hour later with the tent in flames around him. Much hilarity whilst domicile was razed to the ground.
May be off to see “In which we serve” tonight – that is – if I don’t get sucked into the alcoholic vortex which is apparently about tom swirl any tick of the clock.
I’m still not 100%.
It doesn’t look as if I’ll be down by the 24th. You will probably forgive me but it would be best for me not to dash down without properly doing the place over. I’d love to be there. However have a good dinner. Get that or the other casserole or what ever you like – go to £20. With love from your devoted, Willie.
Thursday [5 Aug 1943]
Bad show I didn’t mail the above pages this morning. I went up to the strip with a crowd of pilots at 6.30am and arrived by at 4pm. Consequently missed the bus, I mean the mail.
This blarsted country is full of things wot bite. Between the heat & the wogs I’m as knobbly as a mills bomb.
All day the fighter lads lounge about inside their dispersal hut (near the ‘drome) in attitudes crooked but horizontal.
There they remain, with but slight variation waiting for the call to arms. One morning early at least 4 of them were asleep when an alert came over. Like trains through a station they were off & in the air. Fortunately the aircraft responsible for the alarm was identified as friendly.
The weather seems to be getting hotter. Myself more enervated. Sweat rolls off me – thirsty ants swim up my cascading body & quaff the salty juices. Beaut-O!
There’s been quite a lot of feeling that it’s near time the yellow men come over. They sunk a ship a few days ago & have been fairly active. A couple of months have passed since they did anything and the fighter lads are anxious to have a crack at them to relieve the boredom.
Hope Harold Coy has been behaving. [Harold and Bassie Coy ran the Hotel Hunters Hill, a favoured drinking spot of Wep and Jess.] Also the damned old Ponty. You poor darling I dare say Jane has been giving you the real works. Is Tommy up north indefinitely?
Hope Dossie’s little girl doesn’t have 6 tits – it’ll be awful hard to find a beau with 6 hands.
Some bear bandit or other has got down on my bottle whilst Iwas away. That’s the sort of thing that leads to lynching in this h’yar country. You can as King from me – Where is the Ethics Committee of the A.J.A? What are they doing about it all? When are they going to send a missionary up here?
That there smudge is sweat.
Which reminds me you mentioned Turkish Baths. Haven’t you had any? Why don’t you go away somewhere for a couple of weeks? It’s getting right hot, mu chickadee. I’m afraid this climate would suit you down to the ground. I can’t see how one could stay very flat what with all this here perspiring going on.
Don’t get too morbid, honey. It won’t be long before I’m home. How’s the houses for sale? Why don’t you go around and have a look at a few just to get an idea of value, etc. I can’t think of anything for the flairs.
When its winter
Way down yonder
It’s a pint’er
Beer I ponder
And a bit er bread
An’ butter an’ a sponge
Which reminds me how’s frige behaving?
Lots of love from yours meltingly,
[On top of 1st page is a note written by another person]
Hello Jess you beautiful thing I love you despite all absences(?).