AUGUST 31, 1943
ON THE TRAIN FROM AUCKLAND TO WELLINGTON , New Zealand—(Delayed)—The final leg of the flight to Auckland in New Zealand was quickly over. We passed over the little island of Norfolk, which looks from the air like a bit of English countryside dropped in the vast Southwest Pacific. The houses are white with red roofs and fields look small and well cultivated. Later we saw the Three Kings Islands, which are barren rocks sticking out of the water. Everything is topsy-turvy here from our point of view as far as climate goes, for the north has mild weather and as you go south it gets colder, until in the south islands you have snow and ice.
The winter is more like a New England winter at home. Incidentally, of course, it is winter here and if my own compatriots happen to be having a spell of very warm weather at home, I wish I could send them a little of the frost which covered the ground as I looked out of the train window this morning. This is primarily a farming country and though they have cut down much beautiful timber, you still see great forests of pine. They have begun to replant on an extensive scale.
I felt as though I were in northern California when I stepped out of the plane yesterday, for here they grow citrus fruit, apples, pears and grapes. It is rolling country with hills and the mountains never very far away it seems to me.
We went at once to the airport headquarters, where a cup of tea and many sandwiches and cakes were spread out to tempt us. At the airport, the Governor General Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Cyril Newall, Mrs. Fraser, wife of the prime minister, Mr. and Mrs. Nash, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond E. Cox and many others greeted us. In addition to Major George Durno of the Air Transport Command, Miss Maria Coletta Ryan of the Red Cross came with me and Commander H. D. Moulton, who came to represent Admiral Halsey at the airport. I was asked if I would say a word on the radio since my visit had been kept so secret that this would be the first intimation anyone would have of my presence. Mr. Nash introduced me and then I thanked these hospitable people who have been so kind to our men stationed here for taking them into their homes and doing so much to make them feel at home.
On our flight Colonel Salmon, of the New Zealand Army, told me something about this country and its people. He said that there were no night clubs here, so, while big clubs had been opened for our boys, they had felt more personal hospitality would have to be extended if they were not to be very lonely so far from home.
After a short broadcast, the press came for a brief interview. They were content with fewer questions than our press at home would be, which is very pleasant for a visitor who has as yet seen nothing and knows little of the country except from books. We drove to the station from the airport and along the way some people waved in friendly fashion as they paused to watch the cars go by. At the station, a few people gathered round the train and I went to the door to say a word of greeting. A kindly faced woman came over to shake hands and tell me she lived near one of our camps and liked our boys and saw a great deal of them.
Our men seemed to have accepted hospitality in the way it has been offered. After a good meal, they have helped wash the dishes just as they would at home and they have made friends.