War Letters – New Guinea: 20 Jan 1944, Port Moresby;

Public Relations
Field Unit
HDQ
N.G. Force
20th Jan 44

Darling,

I am trying to write this in the correspondents dormitory.  Three or 4 of them lie about spine bashing – Others reminisce of their experiences in the area.  It is about 4.30 pm & it is still hot – albeit not so bad as Townsville where on Tuesday the water out of the taps (when one was allowed to use them) was 92º.

Left about 6 in the morning & we here for lunch.  It’s quite a treat to see land after flying over the sea for a couple of hours.  There were lots of clouds about & occasionally you could get glimpses of the barrier reef below – not that its much to see from the air.  Circled the town & landed amongst hills very little different from those down south.  The foliage & earth are much the same colour as that around Darwin.  However it is a picturesque spot as the mountains run fairly close to the sea & are an ominous blue under the clouds.  Long long off above the clouds can be see peaks jutting through – I guess they must be plenty high!

Tried to ring Tommy [O’Dea] but they said they hadn’t heard of him so I suppose he has not arrived yet.  I would have rung him in Brisbane but didn’t.

I don’t know that there is much I can tell you about this place.  Letters take some time to get down to you from here & God knows how long from other areas.  If you do not hear from me for a while don’t worry because it will be purely a matter of mail difficulties.  I ……[torn]…….. will not be writing much under …………………….. I shan’t be able to get many ………[torn]………………d… 10 days so don’t bother ………[torn]………… feel like it.

Am leaving here tomorrow for more important spots.  Have been issued with jungle green clothing – that beautiful aspidistra leaf trembling in the breeze over there will be me.  I don’t feel like doing anything here – even writing – it’s such a dead end.  When I move off I shall probably be too tired to send much.

There were 2 correspondents here who were at Darwin.  Caught up again with Trotter  yesterday but he moved out today.  Bill Dargie official war artist called in on me yesterday & we passed the time of day.  Roy Hodgkinson called this morning & I lunched with him at his mess up the road a bit.  He and Alice are divorced.  She is about to marry the Yank corpl (?)  Roy seems quite happy about it all.

Saw a native sing song which was turned on for Stella Wilson who is up here at the moment.  It was interesting enough but somewhat scrappy around the edges.  Not the real McCoy.  Hardly get the best effect when the music consists of a boong banging a bucket with sticks and another playing a drum like the one we have at home.

Am going tonight with the rest of the gang to hear the final concert from Stella Wilson and Edwin Styles.

Reg Harris who used to work in the office has just stuck his head around the door & sends his regards to you & Petrovs [Geoff and Molly Turton], etc.  You probably don’t remember him but what the hell!  He is not a reporter.  Has just returned from Shaggy Ridge after months of front line fighting.  He very decently gave me aluminium mess tins to save on weight.  Said you  can buy him a drink when he gets back.

Later

I’ve had a rest – a shower – a shave, etc. Tea – & the rest.

All are getting ready for the show so bye-bye for the present dear.  Hope you are well and are being careful with Junior.  Not too much work – grog – travel – and contemplation.

Lots of love, darling

Bill

Caravanning with Wep – Tuesday, 23rd March 1937; Arrival in Kurrajong

Tuesday, 23rd March 1937

The first day of the diary but not of the trip. Had been out since Saturday. (Left 2 o’clock & after a pleasant but stinking up Kurrajong drive – boiled up ½ gall. Water arrived here more or less sober at 7:30 pm.)  Entertained Mollie & Petrov over Sunday. They left about 6. Monday most uneventful. Did a job for WW & moved camp to a pleasant grassy spot overlooking the world as we knew it (i.e. in sight and imagination). Yesterday made friends with Dorothy Hobbs daughter of the philosophic proprietor. Have been pestered with her ever since. A lonely nice spoken child who brings us oranges and a companionless heart. A good little girl who gets on the women’s nerves. Excess of attachment. Not shy – about 12, fine eyes, can’t remember colour – walks 2 miles to school & then comes up to take me shooting – means well. Met her brother Jack – gangling gaunt hill-billy with gum boots & gap between incisors – dog took violent dislike to him. Must be his Khaki shirt & watch stuck in leather pouch on rear of belt (with chain). Got blind tonight – returned home to find gifts laid before our doorstep. Oranges from lonely child. Shall eat two now. (11 pm). Shall write as thoughts strike me – bugger style – what we want is recreation of holiday and reactions (3rd orange.) Saw the sun rise this morning. A sat-on luminous orange all squat blood red and impossible to look upon. Dominating what (for the 1st time in my life) a materialised but incredibly ethereal Chinese scroll painting. What bloody beauty & mastery these people possessed.

Woke to find the low lands filled as with water. Mists licking the shoes of Kurrajong as though great tidal wave of vapour inundated the whole of stinking city noise smothered so far as Richmond. Sun bleeding upon incredible unbelievable pearly greys – towards Broken Bay a series of phantom hills lacking substance lacking in reality so skilfully planted by the Oriental hand & heart, bred ???? & loving mist – us sun-worshippers considering such as inconvenience to early milking. Spoke with son of the soil tonight in pub recapturing wondrous pearly pattern & was appreciated. They see but do not see. Could not bear so much for long and needs must kill or murder a rabbit. My soul too stepped in pettiness to contemplate such large scale grandeur. An overdose I can’t take. Grandeur is the wrong word association with the fulfilment of art – in actuality a false painted scene – flat but colourful – reading what I have seen into it.  The sublimity of immobility. Hills solidity vaporised to nothingness but re-concretised in my mind by Oriental calligraphy. I couldn’t stand it long. Am I still ill? – unstable?

We are beneath pines – the floor is strewn with oranges, set squares, canvas & dreams & talk. Remember yesterday near Geoff Blundens a running live stream of silver-lit bracken burnished blue against sharp red tipped green; deep lined black trunks & lush green covered scars of last October fire – couldn’t see that withered flame blackened wallaby. That poor rabbit! I killed its rhythm.