SEPTEMBER 9, 1943
MELBOURNE, Australia—Delayed—Our first stop on our morning rounds on Monday was at the ten-story general hospital, the first American one to be set up on foreign soil. Our men arrived here on February 28th, 1942, and were fortunate to be able to take over the finished hospital building from the Australians, who had not yet moved in.
On March 5th, 1942, they started to work and since then they have admitted a large number of patients. Today they have battle casualties, some malaria cases, and the usual variety of illnesses that will appear when you gather a large group of men together.
I saw a good sample of the work being done by the women of Australia during the rest of the day, and I am sure what I have seen here has been duplicated throughout the country. We went all over the Red Cross headquarters, where the usual activities were being carried on. Lady Dugan, wife of the governor of Victoria, has turned the ballroom of Government House into a workroom, where all the surgical dressings are made and any emergency calls are met. As many as seventy women work there at a time, sometimes staying the whole day. We must never forget how generous these women of the Australian Red Cross have been to us.
We then saw the work of the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force. Their work is similar to that done in Great Britain. I am not sure whether, in the United States, we train women to act as forecasters, but here they are doing this work very satisfactorily. This group gave us a delightful luncheon. After lunch, we went to see the work of the Women's Royal Australian Navy Service. From there, in quick succession, we saw women at work in the Australian Base Postal Unit, which is part of the service given by the Army Auxiliary.
Then we saw an ambulance car company, with women drivers, who do all their own maintenance work and lift stretchers in and out. These girls frequently meet our hospital ships and transport our boys. So you see in how many varied ways the women of Australia cooperate in war work with us.
Finally, we saw the research laboratory and munitions factory where women are very largely employed. Then I went to meet the heads of many womens organizations. After an introduction by the Lord Mayor, I spoke to some 4,000 women and showed them the film of my trip in Great Britain.
This is a land of opals, and I was asked to see some beautiful ones, which would have interested me, since they are my birthstones. However, my schedules have not made such little sidetrips possible, but I am grateful to those who have tried to give me this pleasure.