OCTOBER 26, 1942
LONDON—After dinner last evening we were shown a very fine film: "In Which We Serve" which I hope will soon be released in the United States. It is acted and produced by Noel Coward and is the life story of a ship in the Royal Navy. In great part it is the story of Lord Louis Mounthatton's own ship. For a people whose life is so tied up with the Navy, it must have exceptional poignancy and seen here, surrounded by people who are so conscious of the truth of every detail and must be so emotionally responsive to the suffering, it was an extraordinary experience. I wondered how some of those present could bear to sit through it and I was grateful for General Smuts' strong and quiet presence beside me. He has changed little in the years since we last met. He must have been through many situations which have tried and developed his strength and he is a steadying personality.
Somehow it was strange to meet our son, Elliott, for the first time in many weeks in a roomful of dinner guests, and it was not until after the dinner and the movie lay behind us and the King and Queen had retired that we settled down to a talk together. Elliott is deeply impressed by much that he has seen and experienced here. He hopes that I will have an opportunity to see his unit and many of the other things which have impressed him.
Miss Thompson and I had a quiet breakfast this morning before the open fire in my sitting room. Then we read the papers which have fewer pages over here, and are therefore not quiet so voluminous to go through, but still give one all the essential news.
I have also made the discovery that my little portable radio works extremely well in this part of the world, and so at eight o'clock and at nine o'clock I listened to the news. At a quarter before eleven we left to attend a press conference at the United States Embassy, and I must say it was a formidable gathering that I faced soon after eleven o'clock. It reminded me far more of the President's press conference at home than my small gatherings of ladies. In it were represented members of the Empire press, the British press and the United States press. I was asked a number of questions about my plans which are still nebulous in detail except for two or three days in advance, but with a very clearly defined objective since I know quite well what I really want to see.
It is probably better not to make hard and fast rules too many days in advance since it would be a mistake to disappoint any group which had made plans for a reception.
The most amusing question was asked me by one of our own press people in uniform. He wanted to know whether we were likely to pass a Prohibition Law again in the United States. He did not say it, but I felt the implications that perhaps the boys would resent something of the kind happening while they were away from home.
We returned to find a good deal of mail. Everyone is being more than kind, offering to show me their particular piece of work and to help me in any way that they can to see the things which I want to see. I think Miss Thompson is going to have a hard time keeping up with the various invitations but I know that everyone will understand my great desire to do as much as possible and to make this visit useful both here and in the United States.