Your letter came as a complete surprise. Imagine being able to communicate
with the son of Hangiri! I am indebted to someone in the church who
passed on my letters to you. About ten years ago, I wrote my autobiography so my children would know
my life. One of the chapters and a significant one, was how I got shot down
and what happened. I am enclosing that chapter Bailing
Out Over New Guinea. I went to Gona mission, I stayed there
for about 2 weeks and about a month after I left that mission the Japanese
made a landing there.
About two years ago, I wondered if I could locate the sister of Mavis Parkinson. I
knew that she existed, but did not know if she was alive, what her name was,
or where she lived! I requested help on the internet in Australia and
a day or so later received her name and address! Since that time, we
have been corresponding several times a year. Her sister's name is Betty
and she still mourns the death of her sister.
One other man, Sgt Webb, parachuted from my airplane before I did. He
had read stories about Papuan head hunters and was fearful of the natives. When
he found a village, which he did, he hid out for a couple of days because of
his fear, before he ventured in. Like the people of Fufuda village, he
was welcomed by the natives who took him to a mission farther down the coast. I
think the next mission after Gona towards Wedau. When I left Gona on
the mission boat, Father Benson, Miss Parkinson and Miss Hayman joined me on
the boat and we all got off at the next mission where I was surprised and please
to find Sgt. Webb. When Webb and I continued in the boat to the south,
the three missionaries walked back to Gona. (Webb died about 12 years ago).
In one month I will be 80 years old. I don't travel much anymore and
I cannot imagine coming to Papua. There comes an age when you realize
that you are not the man you used to be. (I was 24 when I was shot down). I
am still in good health. My wife Muriel, and I are careful about what
we eat and we both exercise every morning by going two miles. We jog
as much as possible, and walk the rest. So we job a little more than
a mile of that trip. I cannot take hot weather very well anymore. Without
the help of your father and the others in the village I would not have been
able to survive. I have pleasant memories of my brief time in Fufuda.
One final note before I close this letter. Before I was shot down we
were flying in a loose formation, so that I was about 100 yards away from our
flight leader. If I had been merely a foot or two further away, I would
have died from the shell that destroyed my co-pilot.