SEPTEMBER 10, 1943
SYDNEY, Australia—Delayed—It took us only two hours and ten minutes to fly from the field at Melbourne to the field here, but we were above the clouds most way, so I was glad we had seen the country on our previous flight.
This has been an easy day because we didn't begin our rounds till we had fortified ourselves with a very good lunch at the hotel. At 2:00 o'clock the press came and though I thought all the questions that could be asked had been asked, they thought up some more and still seemed full of them. Then I was told that we had to go to our first engagement.
We visited the Red Cross Officers' Club, which was crowded with young fliers down on leave from New Guinea for a few days rest. Then we went on to a club run by the Americans in Sydney, with the help of their Australian friends. General Eichelberger found two young officers in whom he is interested here, and introduced them. I noticed that both wore decorations.
We spent a half hour at the club run by the Red Cross for Army and Navy Nurses, and they gave us a cup of tea. The General sat surrounded by his Army girls, while Admiral Jones had the Navy girls draped around his chair.
There are times when I think the world is a very small place and, at other times, it seems very large. This afternoon was one of the occasions when it seemed small, for one nurse looked up and said, "Say hello to Poughkeepsie for me, Mrs. Roosevelt." I found she had been at St. Francis Hospital there, and knew my sister-in-law, who is on the board of the hospital.
Later, another girl said, "If you see Leo Casey, say hello for me. I knew him at the hospital in Syracuse, New York." These girls revel in having comfortable beds without nets over them, real hot baths in tubs, and a chance to get hairdos. I tried to make some of them tell me of their experiences and they were slow to speak of them. But gradually, one after another contributed something to the picture of day to day heroism.
One of them found a rat in her bed on waking. Another woke to find a rock python on the floor beside her bed. Rats steal your socks if you leave them out, and the crickets eat your clothes. One group was without hot water for days and had very little water to spare for their own use after making the patients comfortable. In fact, they went nine months without a hot bath.
When these nurses first went to New Guinea, I know they slept on army cots. Their evening uniform there is a one piece slack suit with socks into which the trousers are carefully tucked. Clumsy G. I. shoes are a final protection against the mosquito, that may lay a nurse low with malaria as easily as it attacks a soldier.
One nurse told me that she had pinned a Silver Star on her brother twice. He is a Marine sergeant, James Kaufman, and was decorated for conspicuous gallantry in repairing the lines of communication between headquarters and the forward area during the bitter fighting on Guadalcanal. She is Lieutenant Mary Kaufman and is spending her leave here.
At 4:30, I attended a gathering of women at Town Hall, where the mayor introduced me and I spoke. At 6:00 o'clock several people came to see me and at 7:00 I made a fifteen minute broadcast after which we dined and then went to the Red Cross club for enlisted men, where a dance was in full swing. There I met a young man who had been chosen by Helen Hall for his job and felt a great responsibility to carry it out well. It is a tribute to Miss Hall when people tell of her achievements out here, where, to get things done, was nothing short of miraculous. She has left many warm friends and admirers in every place that I have been so far.