"By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" Accounts of the 1926 Smithsonian-Dutch Expedition to New Guinea

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Journal of Matthew Stirling
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July 16, 1926 : Batavia Camp ; Mamberamo River

July 16th [V2: + the 17th]

Last night we had a conference with Hans and Prince and decided that Hans would return on the Albatross on the 23rd {p. 155} or 24th, and Prince would remain as chief motor boat inspector until the end of the expedition. The pontoons of the plane are now beyond repair after the soaking they received from the high water. The remainder of the plane is in as good shape as the day she arrived in New Guinea. It is like having a fine new automobile but no tires. She is perched on the bank about 200 yards below the camp - her final resting place after as eventful a career as any plane ever had. In all she flew in New Guinea about 30 hours in addition to her cross continental flight in America. Prince will remain here and take out the motor and the duraluminium propeller and pickle them in vaseline until the motor boats go down the river. After writing many letters yesterday afternoon we were all ready for our start upstream.

"She is perched on the bank about 200 yards below the camp - her final resting place after as eventful a career as any plane ever had."

When the Dyaks heard that Hans was leaving for America they all felt very badly about it and in the evening gave him a Dyak farewell song and dance. Anji said it made him feel sick to think he would not see "Tuan Panjan" again. Early this morning we were up and the huge canoe that Tomalinda's men made here was loaded with more than two tons of food. We said goodbye to Hans and planned to reunite probably in January in Marseilles. Hans was naturally loaded with many commissions to perform in Albatross camp, Java and Europe. Then our caravan started - the big canoe on one side, two Dyak canoes lashed together with a canvas awning rigged over them on the other. We had not gone a quarter of a mile when we saw Hans start downstream in the two remaining Dyak canoes. We waved a last farewell and in our hearts were a little envious of him headed for home and sorry for ourselves at losing so courageous {p. 156} a man and so pleasant a friend and companion. We felt that the most difficult stretch ahead was for Prince, who was left standing alone on the bank of the little headland which is Batavia. We had gone about a mile when we noticed that the big canoe was leaking badly, so badly in fact that four convicts bailing continuously could not keep the water level down. Perforce we turned back and landed again at Batavia camp. We unloaded the big canoe and decided that it would have to be repaired or a new one made before it could proceed. Therefore we concluded to start early tomorrow morning with the motor boat and the two small canoes, bringing only two soldiers and two Dyaks with us. Ipoei will go with us with one of his men. In the afternoon Prince and Moon worked on taking out the motor and I went with them. Le Roux crossed the river and took a panoramic photo of Batavia camp. Climatic conditions here are entirely different from Albatross camp. There it rains every day. Here it seldom rains. The Central mountains are generally cloaked by clouds but now and then a short glimpse may be obtained of them.

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