My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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LONDON, Tuesday—Sunday morning in London, I visited the American Red Cross Washington Club for our enlisted personnel. They must find this a pleasant place, for it was crowded. A group of servicemen, stationed in or near London, serve as a kind of advisory house committee. The big lounge room down stairs had a boy playing the piano and many boys sitting around talking, lounging, reading the papers. Some boys looked lonely but most of them looked happy and interested in their surroundings. Boys were in the snack bar; boys were upstairs in the library; boys were checking in or out of their rooms and downstairs games of various kinds were going on in a room with a mural painted by an Army artist, enlivening one wall.

We went into the cafeteria where a number of them had gathered, and as I walked by, one of the boys asked: "How's Poughkeepsie?" and it turned out that was his home. There were a good many boys from the south—Texas, Georgia and Louisiana, and for them the weather must undeed be trying, for over here people do not keep their houses as warm as we do at home and this year they are even a little more careful than usual. It rains a good deal here, and if you have never worn wool socks and warm clothes before, you are going to need them in these autumn days. One boy asked me if I had seen a girl whom he knew, since her marriage; another group told me they were boys who wanted to have a photograph taken with me, and told me they would soon be in their own USA uniforms, though they had been flying for months with the British.

Afterwards we drove to Chequers—that beautiful old house given by Lord Leigh to the British Government for the use of the Prime Ministers of Great Britain. Here we found an interesting group at lunch—the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal and Lady Portal; the Foreign Minister, Sir Anthony Eden and Lady Eden; young Robert Hopkins, up for a day in London from his American Army unit; Miss Mary Churchill, the Prime Minister and Mrs. Churchill's youngest daughter, who is twenty years old and has worked her way up from the ranks to Sergeant and is now a cadet officer in training. She went back to camp in the evening, and her sister, Sarah, who is an officer in the WAAFS, doing a particularly skilled job, arrived at eight-thirty in the evening and had to be back on duty at nine-thirty in the morning. Lord Cherwell joined the group for supper.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Churchill, Miss Brooks and Lady Portal took us to see a maternity hospital which they have organized for junior officers' wives, in a house lent them by Lady Barron. They can take twenty-two girls at a time and I must say it was a pleasant, happy atmosphere and the babies were the loveliest I have ever seen—healthy, placid, and beautifully cared for. Those young mothers live through anxious times with husbands missing, or off in some distant part of the world, and most of them are going through their own ordeal for the first time, yet everyone of them could smile and show her baby with pride. There is a little convalescent home nearby also where they go for further training in child care and for the final rest period before returning to their homes.

This morning we started out on a full day to see some of the women's work with the military forces, but I shall have to tell you about that tomorrow.

E.R.
TMsd 27 October 1942, AERP, FDRL