October 31, 1942
LONDON—We were to have left yesterday morning by air at nine o'clock, but at the last minute it was decided to leave at ten by car. We were visiting our own air forces and we got along very well travelling through the quaint little villages of England until we came somewhere near our destination. Then we were lost. The people of England have always liked privacy and their houses have always been hidden at the end of long avenues, or behind high walls and for that reason, I suppose everything else in Great Britain seeks privacy. One's destination therefore is hard to find! We picked up a young RAF boy finally who knew his way about.
At the first stop, I was allowed to go inside one of our big planes and I know now why every man belonging to the air force should be thin! I climbed into the pilot's seat, but not until I wondered once or twice whether I would ever be able to move forward or backward again. It was worth doing, however, for it gave me a feeling that I would know and be able to picture to myself what each boy did in one of these planes.
Then we drove to another American air group and here I had an opportunity to shake hands with all the officers, and chat with some of them for a few minutes. One of the boys had been at Groton School with one of our sons, he told me, and only last week he had written a long letter to the Rector. How many letters must go back from this war, as they did in the last, to the Reverend Endicott Peabody, who was the head master of Groton School for so many years. He still takes enough interest in all of his boys to send them postcards on their birthdays.
I went into the chapel too, to say a few words to some of the men. One boy directly in front of me looked at me with both bored and antagonistic eyes. I imagine he wondered why he had been asked to turn out to look at and listen to an old woman! They are a wonderful group of young men, these boys in the air force and one is very proud of them.
I wish I could take to every woman at home a message from the particular man she is thinking about. I can tell her, however, that a great deal of thought is being given to the health and well-being of these men in our fighting forces. In spite of the fact that so many of them have colds at first, the health record is excellent they tell me, better even than in the United States.
We went on to still another section where Elliott's group was lined up and I walked down the line meeting the officers and speaking to some of the men. There are boys from Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, California and Wisconsin in Elliott's outfit. I imagine in every outfit there will be boys from nearly every state in the Union which will increase our knowledge of each other, even as living side by side with our Allies will increase our knowledge of the world.
There was an RAF group nearby in the village, so all of us, including the members of the press who had been trying to follow us all day, were invited to have a cup of tea before we started on our way back. The press gathered around me here, because they had seen comparatively little of us during the day and we had a few minutes chat. Reaching home about seven we had a quiet dinner and evening and this morning we leave by train for another long tour.