SEPTEMBER 6, 1943
CANBERRA, Australia—Delayed—There is a curious sense of excitement about seeing a continent for the first time when you never really expected to see it. It seemed so improbable to me that I would ever take this trip, that I still feel a little as though I were in a dream world.
My first glimpse of Australia was its wooded and indented shore with fine sand beaches, and here and there rocks and high cliffS. Our glimpse of Sydney was from the air, except for a brief stop at the airport for weather reports. Then we went on to Canberra. The Governor General and Lady Gowrie, the Prime Minister and many Commonwealth Ministers and their wives met us at the airport. A larger group of camera men faced us than I had ever seen, even at home.
I inspected the RAAF guard of honor, commanded by Flight Lieutenant Cowley, and then we drove to Government House, passing through the Military College, which was established by Lord Kitchener and modeled after our West Point. I was interested also to learn that this capital city was planned by an American. Later the Prime Minister told me at dinner that the federal sphere was greatly influenced by Alexander Hamilton's ideas.
It would seem that the United States and Australia had many reasons to be similar. Certainly parts of our country resemble this country. Mr. Curtin told me that he had recently been on what we would call a ranch, which extended over 30,000 square miles. I don't know whether even Texas could do better than that, and I know that my son, who owns a ranch there, is going to be jealous.
Once arrived in this hospitable house we had tea, and then I said a few words on the radio and saw the press. They are full of questions here and I recognized at once a woman correspondent, who has been in Washington, and one of our army correspondents. He reminded me that he had last interviewed me in Phoenix, Arizona, adding that on that day he had scarcely expected that our next meeting would be out here.
News has come through that the Eighth Army has landed in Italy and we are all anxiously waiting for further details. The Russians also seem to be steadily advancing. How times have changed in the space of one year, and yet we must not relax in any of our war efforts, since all of us desire to shorten the war and the only way to do so is to increase our shipping capacity and our production of planes, munitions and our trained fighting men.
Last night I was fortunate enough to see Judge Patterson and General Knudsen and their party. I sensed that they were impressed by what they had seen.
When you are at home this whole theatre of war seems very far away. It is not until you get here that you realize what a colossal job our men have done and what difficulties of transportation have had to be overcome, without taking into account the hard, desperate fighting which had to go on at the same time. Talk to any servicemen who did the first magnificent job out here, and they will say how different things are now. Airmen will tell you that they notice a great difference in the flow of supplies.
It must have been bad for everyone when they had to try to do too much with too little. I hope I shall see some of the Australian men as well as our own while I am here, for I have always had such admiration for the fighting record they established in the last war and to which they have added so much in this war.