"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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June 15, 1926 : Albatross Camp (Base Camp) ; Mamberamo River

June 15th

[V2: crossed out: This morning Stanley sent a telegram to the Indian Committee stating some of our small grievances and we showed it to van Leeuwen and talked most of the morning over the situation, alternately getting heated up and cooling off, but winding up by burying the hatchet. He then sent a telegram to the committee, a translation of which he showed to us. I hope the matter is completely cleared up before he leaves on the next transport.]

This morning one of the Dyaks appeared with a good sized sawfish which he had caught on a line in the river. I was surprised to see it, as I did not know that sawfish were found in fresh water. This afternoon Dame Nature tried another violent assault on the Ern and for the third time missed. A little before four o'clock this afternoon I was sitting with Stanley in our house when the sky began to grow very black in the south. A gust of wind lifted the atap on the roof and on the cook shacks in front of us. Immediately a terrific windstorm came up and we heard {p. 124} trees falling. Hans and Prince were working at the plane and I hurried down there to see if they needed any help. They were working with Moon to lash her down as I arrived. Just then a large tree blew down and fell across the boom to which the plane is attached. Then trees began falling right and left. One fell blocking our new staging leading to the plane. Then another fell uprooting half of the bakery on the bank just back of the boom. Two more fell across our work shop leaving it in a semi-wrecked condition. While trees were crashing on all sides the rain began falling in torrents and the surface of the river, whipped by the wind and lashed by the heavy rain, took on a wild appearance. After about 15 minutes the heavy force of the wind died down leaving the camp in need of many repairs. A large tree fell across the hospital and other trees fell in other parts of camp. The rain continued for some time after the wind had ceased and the storm passed leaving the air pleasantly cool. This evening has been excellent with a bright crescent moon in a clear sky. Dr. Hoffman paid us a short visit this evening. Ten percent of the expedition force are on the sick list and unable to work, principally from malaria. In all he has 40 patients but many of them are being treated for injuries to the feet and legs, or minor infections. Dick went hunting this morning and brought back three white cockatoos. Two he gave to the Dyaks and one has been boiling all afternoon for our mess. Personally I am a little dubious of it. {p. 125}

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