War Letters – NW Australia: 4 Aug 1943, Strauss Airfield; Arrived at the Fighter strip.

W.E. Pidgeon
A.P.O. Darwin
[4 Aug 1943]


A hurried line to tell you I’ve arrived at the fighter strip.  Tuesday being beer issue night was willing.  I will write you details tonight as I’m just scribbling this to make sure you get a letter a day (to keep admirers away).  Am feeling queer. – What again! – They’re a fine bunch of kids down here.

Will write you at length this evening.  So be content with reciprocated love & hugs & kisses

from poor



War Letters – NW Australia: 18 July 1943, Darwin; Swimming, painting and a Japanese plane shot down

[18 Jul 1943]

Dear Jess,

A short note cos little Willie is a weeny bit tired – the boys & all their soldier helps had a picnic today out on one of the beaches about 12 miles from here.  Altogether about 13 of us went & bathed in the Timor Sea (which was regularly calm) without any clothes on!  This is neither here nor there as from the main streets here you can see soldiers having showers in unenclosed shower stands.  They just put up a spray on the end of a water pipe, place a piece of Hessian on one side & go ahead.  All the fellows in this town – or in the whole territory – for that matter are a marvellous colour.  A rich brick red.  Few are that yellow brown colour as most wear nothing but shorts & boots & socks during the day.  As the sun is very hot they are continually being burnt.  I am at present a nice shade of lolly pink.  While I mention that, I may as well tell you that apart from a bottle of beer a week the troops can buy an un-carbonated cordial. They call it lolly-water & that’s just what it damned well is.  The abos are still cycling around. They look like a cavalry spider corps.

So     –> 

Clr neg 5 - Air Force Pool, Darwin
Air Force pool, Darwin

On the way back from the beach we bathed in a fresh water pool constructed on the head reaches of a creek.  It is a very lovely spot surrounded by pandana palms through which the sun filters & makes splendid patterns.  The pool is deep & about 20 yds long – The water much colder than that of the sea which is almost tepid.  The weather is really marvellous  – you would love it darling it’s right up your alley.  A couple of Jap planes arrived over today about 40 miles away.  One was shot down – I didn’t see or hear anything of them.

[Crashed Japanese bomber, NW Australia]
[Crashed Japanese bomber, NW Australia]
Tomorrow I’m going down the road to stay at some of the camps for a while.  Next letter you receive from me will be written in a different setting and may be just a little late.

Locally the train to Adelaide is facetiously known as the “Spirit of Protest”.  Have been drawing some of the lads tonight – they were well received.

On our return from the picnic we sat down to dinner prepared by one of the drivers (2 cars & 1 truck are attached to the unit here).  Cookie had gone with us for a day off.  Taking advantage of his solitude in the kitchen driver set to & sent up a voluminous 4 course meal.  Soup – macaroni & cheese & tomato – roast beef, etc peaches & cream & some sort of cocoa jelly.  Topped off with welsh rarebit.  I had thought him a bit simple.  He must have been to sweat it like that.  Maybe he has my occasional enthusiasm. It’s easy to get that way when does have to do it often.

I find it hard to settle down to a letter – too many typewriters banging – too much talk.  Perhaps I shall do better down the road.  I think I shall also ask the major who works in the house next door for the use of one of his empty rooms – Christ I need it in order to get away from this noise if & when I work.

All my love petty & please look after yourself. I miss you


[Crashed Japanese bomber, NW Australia] [Crashed Japanese bomber, NW Australia] [Site of crashed Japanese bomber, NW Australia] [Site of crashed Japanese bomber, NW Australia] [Site of crashed Japanese bomber, NW Australia]