Five Ways to Remember: Dedication – Peter Nathaniel

You Peter N, were named after Nathaniel, a god fearing great-great-grandfather of yours. Seeing as I am somewhat of a toss-pot like Nathaniel’s father Richard, I thought it well to remind you of my sins of the flesh by incorporating ineradicably in your name a reminder of righteous reaction against the wilfulness of self-indulgence.

Your forebear removed way back along the ladder to Adam, was a very notable character. So much so, that the Australian Dictionary of Biography asked me to do an itsy-bitsy piece about his life and works.

Knowing that you won’t read useful knowledge I will thunder out that he came to Sydney from County Wexford, Ireland and landed here in May 1841 with related family expatriates. Sixteen, including himself, had started off, but poor old Richard had not survived the voyage, and was buried at sea.

Now Nathaniel was not only a very strict Methodist and lay preacher, he was a damn good carpenter and did quite well in the Maitland district. About 1850, he really got with the sermons and in 1861 became ordained as an Independent Methodist minister, with a power to solemnize marriages.

If ever you get around to it, have a browse through his journal published in 1864. It is full of no-tom-foolery and is an example to the mods of what befalls those who do not behave. Now take this quote:

“If Satan ever appeared as an angel of light, and in the shape of a woman, it was in the person of Mrs. H.. So polished a hypocrite, I have never met. She was the wife of the master of a vessel, which sailed out of the harbour; had a fine personal appearance, and polished manners. She had been living with a man, who was not her husband. A pious woman found it out, and spoke to her, and brought her to the meetings, which I conducted. She left the man, and after some time her husband took her again, and they lived together. He often accompanied her to the chapels. She soon began to profess religion, and possessed a fine gift for prayer, and gained the esteem of many of God’s people; but a married man, who was brought to God in affliction, and who had been very wicked, fell a victim to her wiles. She spread a net for his feet, in which he became entangled. He first commenced to see her home from the meetings, and after a little, it was found out that there was something wrong between them, but it soon proved to be a certainty. When I challenged her about it, she dropped on her knees, and with uplifted hands and falling tears, in the presence of God declared her innocence. They were both turned out of society. She still continued to attend the chapels, and some believed she was hardly dealt with. One man of long standing in the church, and a public teacher was of the number, he visited at her house and kept her company, until he fell into the same deep ditch as the other. He too was expelled the church, and the cause of much scandal to religion: both these men were married; but this was not all. A minister of a Christian church was so infatuated with her, that he took her to be his house-keeper in the country, and soon after brought great scandal on the cause of God.

I have in the course of my experience, known great injury done to the work of God by company keeping, especially amongst young people. They get acquainted in the meetings, and then begin to escort each other home, until attachments are formed, and religion trifled away, if not great scandal brought on the Lord’s work, and the best of causes deeply injured by it. Young people who profess religion, should not keep company alone, until they see a suitable person, and a proper time, and then get married immediately. No devil does more harm in the church, than the courting devil. I have often heard people complain of their temptations, and blame the enemy of souls, whom we know is always ready enough to ruin the human family, when they themselves are to blame after sending an invitation to the devil to tempt them. What else can they expect but that it will be accepted? Those who wish to enjoy religion must take care and keep a tender conscience, which if well regulated, will always warn them of danger. If the light is in the smallest degree opposed and resisted, happiness departs and back-sliding begins. What I say unto one, I say unto all, watch.” [The Life, Religious Experience, and Journal of Nathaniel Pidgeon, 1864, pp51-52]

Old Nathaniel was good enough for his flock to build him a substantial church on a corner of Sussex and Liverpool Streets. It still exists but is without the sanctity of hosannas, alleluia’s and hallelujahs – it reverberates now only to the bangings and swearings which go with garages – ex churches.

[W.E. Pidgeon c.1970]

Note: Nathaniel’s church on the southeast corner of Sussex and Liverpool Streets, Sydney no longer exists today; replaced by a high-rise building containing commercial retail outlets and serviced apartments.

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 28 Nov-3 Dec; Homeward bound

Mon 26-Nov-56: Got train to Harwich, boat to Holland
Tue 27-Nov-56: Down the Rhine by Lorelei Express, arrived Zurich about 9pm
Wed 28-Nov-56: Roamed around Zurich & caught plane at 7:30 back to Aust.
Thu 29-Nov-56: Landed Instanbul about 1am. Passed by the mountains near Mt Aararat. Landed Basra – Karachi.
Fri 30-Nov-56:    Calcutta about 1am, Singapore 11am. Stayed Raffles – saw dress rehersal of show.
Sat 1-Dec-56:     Left Singapore 10:15am direct to Darwin – arrived 8:45pm. Took off for Sydney about 11pm.
Sun 2-Dec-56:    Arrived Mascot 7am. Met by Dorothy, Graham & Trellie – John Boyce in at dinner in evening.
Mon 3-Dec-56:  Quiet day & loafed around – few drinks.


Zurich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Zurich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Ganymed Statue, Bürkliplatz, Zürich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Bürkliplatz, Zürich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Uraniastrasse Bridge, Zurich, Switzerland; 28 November 1956
Basrah Airport, Iraq; 29 November 1956
Singapore; 30 November 1956
Singapore; 30 November 1956
Looking across towards the Fullerton Building, Singapore; 30 November 1956
The Fullerton Building (now a hotel) with the Fullerton Road bridge in front, Singapore; 30 November 1956
Singapore; 30 November 1956
Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore; 30 November 1956
Raffles Hotel, Singapore; 30 November 1956

WEP Passport_0001 WEP Passport_0002 WEP Passport_0003 WEP Passport_0004 WEP Passport_0005 WEP Passport_0006 WEP Passport_0007

WEP Passport_0008

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 22-23 Sep; Berrimah – in need of a cold beer

Sat 22-Sep-56:  Left Sydney 10:30pm – slept most of the way to Darwin. Plane very empty.
Sun 23-Sep-56: Took off 8:05am. Arrived at Singapore 3:55pm. Saw Ian Hamilton and had fun at ‘Happy World’. Slept at Raffles Hotel. Cashed £5

Darwin, 23 Sep 1956

[Berrimah, Northern Territory]
7am Sunday
[23 September 1956]

Dear Mugs,

Had a magnificently smooth trip up and landed about 5:30am in the blinking dark. They seem to have the clocks too fast up here because it was about 6:30am local time before we had the dawn. It is very hot and the birds make different noises outside in the scrub. They caw and gurgle, and the ensemble has a liquid, gurgling note. Not sharp & gay, as in the antiquary No. 85.

I’m dying for a long cold beer but suppose I’ll have to wait till I get back on the plane. We are at a dump in the never-never called Berrimah. Qantas have a comfortable sort of motel looking establishment here. Bedrooms sprawled in lines round a swimming pool, dining room, etc. Unfortunately we don’t go anywhere near Darwin town. I’d like to have seen it – It was Sep 1945 when I last came through.

War Letters – NW Australia: 1 Sep 1943, Brisbane; Arriving home Friday 3rd at dawn

1 NW Australia Letters-109


Stamped Telegraph Office Sydney -1 SP 43
Stamped Telephoned 8.55P

URGT   J   35   BRISBANE 21  8-  P



(  85  UN  )


This is the last of Bill’s letters home during his assignment to North-west Australia. Much of the material Bill gleamed from his assignment appeared in works reproduced in The Australian Women’s Weekly throughout the rest of 1943 and well into 1944.

He next travelled to New Guinea in January-February 1944 and then to Morotai in January-February 1945. These letters will also be posted online in January and February 2014 on the same day as they were written.

– Peter Pidgeon

War Letters – NW Australia: 29 Aug 1943, Darwin; Back (home) again

C/O DPR Unit
APO Darwin
Sunday 29th Aug [1943]



Am making another attempt to have you receive a letter while I am home.

Too bad I missed out on the previous effort.  I guess the suggestion I made in the last will still be met.  Yes?

Goody! That makes me one you owe me.

How it is having me back?

Nice and noisy after the years of foodless solitude?

The waiting around for transport home near drove me dippy – now I’m here all is well.

& now How’s about it, sweet?


Note: Bill left for Sydney via air on 31 August 1943 (Ref: DVA File No. X336636)

War Letters – Borneo: 13 July 1945, Brisbane; Killing time waiting for air transport

Friday 7pm


[13 Jul 1945]


I have been put on the plane for Morotai tomorrow at the delightful hour of 4.15 am.  No more sleep than usual I guess – am to be woken at 3.30 am.  So will think I will have an early night.

As I have nowhere to leave my suit – the time at my disposal being so short I have made arrangements with the A.N.A. to take it down to Sydney.  It will, in all probably go on one of tomorrows plane.  Will you pick it up from their office in Martin Place and hang it up at your leisure.  I have paid the freight charges.

Spent a very quiet day – dashed around the barracks this morning and saw the air movements officer who informed me at 5 pm that I was to go tomorrow’s machine.  Staggered up to the Art Gallery this afternoon & gave it the once over.  Came back to the club & had a shut eye for boredom’s sake.  Bought a book on Gardening which you will find in the kit bag where you will find my suit.  I have just discovered I forgot to include my shoes.  So they’ll have to go to the tropics and back.  Had tea alone at a chow café.  Will go to bed shortly. Had a fast trip up from Sydney – took only 2 1/2  hours which is extra good.  Strangely enough it is quite cold in Brisbane at the moment so I’m hanging on to my overcoat.

Lots of love, darling and give my little man a good hug for me.


Will write you from my next overnight port of call.

War Letters – NW Australia: 14 Aug 1943, near Hughes Airfield; Jap air raid interrupts the party

W.E. Pidgeon
C/O DPR Unit
Army Post Office
[14 Aug 1943]


I’m still here.  I suppose you gave me a little thought when you read that N.T. area had been raided by 18 Jap planes on Friday night.*  Well, your little Willie was right out of it.  It occurred during the middle of the party I spoke of in my last letter.  We were all gathered around some tables in the middle of the bush not far from one of the air strips (as they call the aerodromes here) when the warning came over.  Some of the pilots had to dash off to their Spitties.  The lights went off and we continued our drinking in the bright moonlight assisted by the light of a parachute flare which one of the Jap planes dropped over the area.  Old deafie didn’t hear the planes – there was so much alcoholic conversation being broadcast.  A moment later ack-ack fire started – booms & flashes split the night.  Shrapnel from the bursts fell in the camp where I stayed last week.  Fortunately for us the Japs weren’t after the fighter planes – they flew past & dropped their eggs near 2 bomber fields.  One of these I described to you as being situated in the hills. I stayed there on Wednesday night.  The yellow boys might just as well have saved their time, petrol and bombs as neither damage nor casualties (so far as I have heard) were inflicted.  So – a miserable flare is all I’ve seen of the war up in this front line.  There appears to be an expectation of another bash tonight – it being a magnificently full moon.  Perhaps it is just as well I’m not in Darwin or staying in a bomber camp, although they tell me that even a poor bloody Allied Works Council camp stopped a stick of bombs last night.  The only physical stress I have collected is plenty of bites – and then some.  I scratch like a lousy old dog.

The party was pretty willing while it lasted.  Met a Spitty pilot from one of the squadrons who asked how both you and I were keeping.  We met him outside St James theatre with Paul Brennan and some others just before they left for Canada two years ago.

Have just been asked if I’d like to go down to an American bomber field tomorrow.  Think I’ll go down & see what sort of holes the bombs made.  I don’t know that it would be terrible healthy to stay down there – I’ll see about that later.

Cripes I’m missing you honey.  Am really looking forward to getting home.  This life of celibacy is not what it’s cracked up to be.  You’re in for a torrid time my chicabiddy when the bronzed old boy gets back.  I don’t know that you’ll go much on my colour/pattern – I’m getting browned as far as the waist only, from there down snow white takes over.  Have been letting my mo grow a pace – perhaps you should buy me a moustache cup.

How are the Watson family coming along?  How’s the concrete idiot child?  And Bib & Bub?

Very quiet night – we are all sitting round like little goody boys – all writing to our dearests and sweetests.  All of which refers me back to wimmimck(?)  How’s Tommy’s Art for arts(?) sake?  Has he had the animated Selina out again?  Did you see her stripped – is she still much the same?

Sunday morning [15 JAug 1943] before breakfast

I get up early – as a rule before the sun.  The night passed off without incident which is all very well.

Called at a Sergeants’ tent before going to bed.  They were all on the jungle juice – a potent and horrible brew of their own manufacture made out of anything they can lay their hands on – prunes, dried fruits – potato peelings, jam – sugar & old boots, topped off with a liberal dose of yeast.  It looks like milk bar washing up water and tastes and smells like old yeast.  It is alleged to turn the mildest of men into maniacal dervishes.  I didn’t have any.  The conversation was still on the dames and what they would do to them on return to the flesh pots of our fair city in the south.

That’s all for the moment, dear Willie is signing off.  Get your squeezing muscles ready my sweet for the old boy won’t be long now. (I hope!)  Love in bundles for Jessie.



No 1.   I live in tents – i.e. at different places – not in tents at one time.

No 2.   A pilot wrote that on your letter – he was in his cups – I’ll decipher it for you later.

[*Note: Four raids occurred on the night of Friday 13th August and the early hours of Saturday morning. They were aimed at Hughes Airfield, Fenton airfield (9:45pm), Fenton & Coomalie Creek airfields (11:12pm) and Long airfield in the early hours of Saturday 14th August (Dunn, P 2013, Japanese Air Raids in Australia During WW2, Australia@War, viewed 14 August 2013, <>). The raid which Wep refers to was most likely the attack at 11:12pm on Fenton and Coomalie Creek where he had been staying two nights earlier.]

afield2 from ozatwar
Fighter guide map of airfields near Darwin (from Peter Dunn’s Australia@War). Wep was probably camped just north of Manton Dam near Hughes airfield which had Spitfires along with Strauss and Livingstone airfields.

Caravanning with WEP – Winter, 1938; a week at Jindabyne with Lennie Lower


In the 1930s, Lennie Lower was considered one of Australia’s foremost humorists. His novel, Here’s Luck was first published in 1930 and is considered a classic of Australian humour.  It has been reprinted many times since and was illustrated by his good friend and colleague, Wep with the 1955 edition.  Wep and Lower were closely associated from the time Wep first started illustrating his column at the Daily Guardian in Sydney and later at The Australian Women’s Weekly when that publication commenced in 1933 cementing their notoriety throughout Australia.

Lower was reknowned for his drinking and in the winter of 1938, Wep and his wife Jess were accompanied by Lower for a week’s sojourn in the Snowy Mountains region around Jindabyne and Cooma.  Lower was to write a series of columns for the Daily Telegraph and Wep was under instructions not to give Lower any more money than 2 shillings.  Lower went to Cooma with his two shillings and returned rotten drunk with seven and sixpence change. He’d gone into Cooma and told everyone who he was, and that he was there with Wep. No one would let him pay for a drink and actually pressed money on him thus defeating the other instruction to Wep to “sober him up and keep him sober.”

Caravanning with Wep – Sunday, 23rd July 1937, Skyring Creek, Qld., description of painting surrounding area and of local friendliness

23rd July Friday

Still at Skyring, but all ready for marching orders. Have been detained here a week now waiting on news from home. From civilization – which strange to say appears to be getting along quite well without us. Wrote down to Sydney on Monday, begging for information as to amount earned for past year and for official billet douxs on which to mail said remembrance. Expect to hear from city tomorrow or is the wish fother to the thought?

Have, in a way, been quite busy this week, wasting paint. 4 oil sketches on the worst canvasses I had. Choice examples of my manufacturing craft – genuine antique within a fortnight, complete with glue worms, dirt and dents. However think I have the substance for some future painting embodied in said sketches. One turned out quite well, one – bloody awful, & two, fair reference. Have re-experienced my Kurrajong troubles (the scale of greens & blues) but have managed a trifle better. The extraordinary luminosity of the rolling green slopes along the Skyring Creek! A darkish yellow green almost discordant in itself, clashing stridently with the intense yet lighter blue of the sky. The subtleties of golds & pinks that weave their patterns in the shafts of grass! Gorgeous, Gilded! Dark, sombre, & well packed, trees line the waterway, their edges crotched with shimmering light.

Damned if I can paint the totality of impression I receive by setting up my easel before the particular and transcribing it. Nature forces extraneous considerations upon my outlook and I cannot synthesise. Only possibility is to make a mental analysis & vague remembrance in paint from which to synthesise the whole. Away from the sheer immediacy of the scene I may be able to comprehensively combine the sum of impressions within one vision, a paraphrase of nature. Force my design upon the canvas rather than have nature force her riotous fecundity (indifference) upon me.

The light changes – a full moon rises beyond the opalescent ridge & clear cold rays percolate through gaunt yellow grayed limbs of the dead trees marshalled stiffly in great bayonet masses behind the dank rich foliage that lines the creek, a hundred yards across the field. The pale magic lantern of the moon hangs lemony on the bars of pink & blue which stripe the sky.

Visited Pomona about 8 miles off the main road, twice this week and were amazed at the friendliness and cordiality of the people. A pleasant cheerful crowd, spawned of warm and sunny hills.

Have been getting milk free from the folk up the road. The typical bush hospitality we have read about. And lettuce too!  Guess I’ve just about earned it all though listening to Miss Mackay & her experiences & views on an art or Edwardian, slag at dawn, vintage. Still, they went out of their way to be decent. Would choose to set my easel up on a main road & so incur the combined amazement & mirth of myriad school children, who daily arrived in two parties. First the bloody plutocrats on bikes and horses, would stare stolidly while their bloody ponies breathed down my neck, second, the proletariat arrive on foot, mostly girls, and twitter like a bunch of sparrows while I lose all concentration & think only of how hot my ears are getting. Finally they all disappear, twinkling colour dots vanishing far up along the pink and dusty road. That painting never did get a chance.

Caravanning with Wep – Sunday, 17th July 1937, Skyring Creek, Qld., description of trip from Jindabyne, NSW to Queensland

17th July Sat.

Skyring Creek, Qld.

A marvellous night, mild and limpid under the moon. Undergrowth tangled & dark, mysterious, protects our quiet privacy.

Dawnie, our infallible thermometer, lies uncurled, a vast improvement (to her dog-mind) on Jindabyne where days and nights were spent in periwinkle curled sloth.

Which reverts us to our farewell to that transitory home. Thursday, I guess it was the 23rd June, so finally sickened and us sunk deep in despair by locals cheerful intimation that it’d be sloppy for a month or so to come.

Packed, sadly, & drove car round Weston’s back gate to Wooden Woman paddock and with spade and axe severed forever her connection with the earth that spawned her life. Slim she was but thunderous weighty. Not all my effects could carry her, so needs must ignominiously drag her, like a leaden drunk to the car onto which after ½ hours strenuous grunting & cursing managed to attach her. Whereupon the springs gracefully inverted themselves. Returned to trailer and in midst of manoeuvres almost followed it into the Snowy.

Boiled our way steadily into Cooma, dined with George & retired to lounge until 1:30pm. Had ham & eggs down the street and pulled off the road 12 miles out of Cooma. Seeing as how, the b—- caravan was full of logs & canvasses we decided to sleep together, which after taking off boots and nether garments did. Woke to the clanging of picks and shovels outside the window and perceived a gang of road men blithely at work. I hope we didn’t look too damn silly on that 2 foot bed.

Got to Brighton about 9 o’clock PM after an unpleasantly wet run from Marulan and a spot of high powered bother with some of Howard Couch’s bright(?) brainwaves attached to darned head light.

Frittered a week away in Sydney. The longest and dullest week I’ve had since leaving work. Sheer boredom. Had a few sad drinks with boys & visited all who should be.

Left again on Monday. Jess must go and lose the filling out of her tooth again. Hence John Brooks, dr. to W.E.Pidgeon. Discovered two broken leaves in trailer spring and had same fixed.

Arrived at Wyong & stayed night with brother John. Slipped the car off bloody bridge over gutter next morning but after 1 hour’s rupturing effort with railway sleeper got out right. Attended meeting of shareholders of my gold company. Didn’t say a word.

Stayed outside Singleton overnight. After pleasant run up the best part of the New England Highway paid visit to the Browns at Currabubula and remained 2 days leaving Sat. morning.

Apart from coming down the mountain on my bum nothing of any consequence happened, except maybe getting 3 or 4 broken down rums out of Alex. Christ, Nance is a tiny squirt! She made us quite at home & farewelled us with loads of home made biscuits and local oranges. For which many thanks offered. Alex now almost as fat as a prize Berkshire & getting more like Uncle Jim in manners, voice, face, etc, than ever. Out does any movie detective in the matter of hats on in the house! Still he’s much bitter company than he used to be. Quite human. The old folks away in Singapore. Jess very upset because deprived of joy of Uncle Jim’s company. Finally got past Guyra for the day. Damn cold too up there. Bad as Jindabyne. 5000 ft up in the heavens. Went to sleep with the angels’ chilly bloodless feet on our faces.

Least said about the trip on Sunday the better! What roads! Seemed as if a major earthquake had overtaken them. Crossed a cattle ramp into Queensland at Wallangarra & had my first northern beer. Better than the Sydney slush anyway. More good (according to the ignorant locals) roads to 8 miles of NSW side of Warwick.

Through the Darling Downs to Toowoomba thence down a Big Dipper Hell towards Ipswich & Brisbane.

Extraordinarily fertile looking country in Qld. Well grassed and cared for. Houses surprisingly neat & tidy after NSW hovels. All curiously stuck on stilts.

And the toy tram lines.