NOVEMBER 11, 1942
ENGLAND—I was awakened yesterday morning, by a very charming WREN who brought me the juice of an orange! I was so surprised that I forgot to protest, but by the time I reached the other WRENS' quarters where we were to breakfast, my conscience was bothering me a great deal, and I knew I had been treated to something special. Even though the Ministry of Food told me that for the moment oranges were more possible to buy, as a big shipment had been received, still I felt guilty. I found however that the real explanation lay in the fact that some of our Naval officers repay a little of the hospitality which is shown by the WRENS in sharing with them a few of their oranges which come from the United States. This made me feel a little happier.
One becomes very conscious of food over here. Everyone is urged to eat potatoes so potatoes usually appear in two forms at every meal. In the factory where we had lunch today there was a wonderful Lancashire pie, which ordinarily has layers of various meats with potatoes in between. Now they use mushrooms and any little scraps of meat they can obtain. In spite of which the pie is still good.
Our first visit this morning near Manchester was to an assembly plant and I just say the factory looked very much the way one would look at home. However, we do not have such model cafeterias in every factory.
I talked to a number of the women working in this factory and in spite of long hours, they told me they liked the work and they spoke with enthusiasm and used that ever recurring phrase "We have to get on with the war."
The fact that the government sees to it that the children get a hot lunch in school seems to solve the midday problem for any child over five. They all tell me that they get tea after they get home and the children get up when they do about six a.m. and have breakfast before they leave. Washing and cleaning is done on the one day off in seven, and yet the women told me they were not over-tired. They do have an hour off at noon and ten minutes in the morning and again the afternoon for tea. I doubt if these hours could be kept day in and day out were it not for the satisfaction of doing a job which needs to be done and which is helping the war effort.
After a view of the airfield where one of the planes was flown for our benefit, we drove on to the other factory where the making of the parts was going on. Here again I had a chance to talk to some of the girls and women and I met all the shop stewards as well as saying a word during the lunch hour over a loud speaker system which went to all the different canteens.
The manager, Mr. Dobson, seemed to be a grand person and his workers certainly smiled as he approached. He told me whenever a man in the services got leave, the woman in the factory got time off. They are also using part-time people and they do it in rather unique fashion. They team them up and tell them it does not matter what hours they chose or when they work as long as between them they do a full day's work.
Afterwards we went to one of the training centers of which there are a number scattered around where engineers are trained. By engineers they mean skilled machinists, draftsmen and inspectors. Many of these are girls, some are injured men, boys of 16 and men from Jamaica and the Bahamas. Those who are trained in the making of instruments spend about sixteen weeks training, and the last part of any training is on actual production work. The only things I can think of which are comparable in the United States are the actual training schools run by industry itself, or the National Youth Administration centers for young people.
The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress kindly received us and gave us tea. I had the opportunity of reviewing women representatives from forty-seven war activities. We spent the night with Sir John and Lady Stafford. He is head of the University of Manchester. This morning we left for Northern Ireland.