My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

LONDON—The train left soon after nine yesterday morning and Mrs. Churchill was our hostess. She was charming as always, and interested in everything we saw, but I imagine that so much of it must be familiar to her that she will be relieved when she does not feel responsible for me!

Our first stop was Canterbury, where the Mayor met us with the Lady Mayoress, and we drove through the narrow main street which I remembered so well. On every side there were evidences of the severe bombing to which Canterbury has been subjected.

We got out of the car at the Archway leading to the Cathedral grounds and there Lady Reading introduced me to some of the WVS people, who were there in full force with every possible type of mobile canteen. They had canteens which had been sent from the United States. Others which had come from Canada, one belonging to the Church army, one to the Christian Science group, one to the Salvation Army. They varied in size from those which could serve 250 full meals and 500 cups of tea, and sandwiches, to the little portable type which can be put on the luggage rack of a car and from which I suppose fifty men could be given tea and sandwiches. I was particularly interested in this because I think it would be valuable anywhere where people had to meet a sudden emergency like a forest fire. There was a trailer which can be hooked onto an ordinary car which consisted of three tanks of water, and which must be a godsend when an area is blitzed and sewers and water mains are both affected.

The drivers and the workers on these canteens are volunteers. Many of them work at least five days a week, sometimes more, for a full eight hour day. They take school lunches to children and food to the outposts where women work in lonely places. They use all of this equipment for general welfare when it is not needed for emergency work. We afterwards met the Dean and made brief visit to the Cathedral which is very different from what it was when I saw it several years ago.

Our next stop was at Barham to visit a Women's Institute. Lady Denman is the head of the National organization. The women proudly showed me a canning machine from America, sent by Miss Grace Frysinger of the Department of Agriculture. There was also a table with vegetables grown from the seeds sent from the United States.

Our last stop was Dover. The Mayor met us and showed us the Civilian Defense work. Admiral Sir Henry Pridham-Whipple showed us the Navy's work and we saw the work of the Wrens. Their head is Mrs. Lawton-Matthews. Miss Mildred McAfee heads a comparable organization of women in the U.S. Navy. Of course, the women here do a greater variety of things than they do at present in the United States, but it is a great satisfaction to see how completely accepted they are by their co-workers and how well they carry their responsibilities.

Dover is interesting as a city in many ways. The shelters, the offices, the people were all worth seeing. No one would dream from watching these people go about their daily business that the enemy is so near at hand and that everyone is prepared at all times to take up active defense work.

E.R.
TMsd 1 November 1942, AERP, FDRL