My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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LONDON—Early Saturday morning Ambassador Winant took me to the exhibition of aerial photographs showing the damage done by the RAF in German, French and Italian cities. These photographs are very much enlarged and show up everything on the ground. It is really appalling to see what one big bomb can do, and certainly a well organized raid with skilled people in the planes, can leave a city practically in ruins. Once the fires start it must become an inferno in which even trained defense workers could hardly do anything to decrease the damage.

President Benes and Foreign Minister Masaryk of Czechoslovakia came to call at ten o'clock and then our Ambassador, Mr. Biddle, took me to call on her Majesty, Queen Wilhelmina. It was very pleasant to see her again, and I was particularly touched by her willingness to come into London so as to save my time.

At twelve-thirty I visited the British Red Cross and saw samples of the various packages they send to prisoners. The Christmas packages were sent off in July which seems slow delivery, but they put in a great variety of things which must supplement whatever the men are given to eat. Food packages are not sent to special men, but in sufficient numbers so that enough packages can be sent to each prison camp for all of the men. It is possible for next of kin to send packages to individual soldiers and the keeping of the records seems to me a very extraordinary piece of work. The headquarters are in the old St. James Palace and it certainly is curious to see the throne room and banquet hall filled with wooden work tables and typewriters and girls hard at work.

I lunched with the American press and enjoyed seeing some familiar faces, and afterwards met with representatives of the British magazines. Finally I drove to the home of the Duchess of Kent and made the acquaintance of my husband's godchild who is a very lovely four-month-old baby.

Back in London, I had a chat with Sir Arthur and Lady Murray, and a number of other people who came in for a short time and then at eight o'clock I went to see some of the centers open to service men and women. One YWCA center room was given up to dancing and another one to a ping-pong tournament. I saw the dormitories below ground where during the blitz, people had slept every night and where some girls sleep when beds are not obtainable in other places. I also visited a YWCA center run for service girls only, and where a hundred or more can be accommodated over the weekend. A bed and breakfast costs two shillings which is about forty cents, and a fair meal can be had for a little over a shilling. Lastly we went to the Hans Crescent American Red Cross club for servicemen where a Halloween dance was in full swing and the men seemed to be having a very good time.

As I came out, a boy on the steps asked me if I liked the magnolia gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, and another who lived not far from Atlanta, Georgia, said "When you come down there, Mrs. Roosevelt, it's like your second home, isn't it?"

E.R.
TMsd 2 November 1942, AERP, FDRL