SEPTEMBER 15, 1943
CAIRNS, Australia, Sept. 13—We reached Cairns after our usual smooth run and landed again so smoothly that all the men exclaimed in admiration of our pilot. He should receive commendations from high ranking officers if he continues his present record for smooth landings. I am sure that one and all are going to clamor to travel in air transport command planes.
This little town is picturesque, right on the water and pleasantly warm, though I imagine the breeze from the sea keeps one from ever being too warm at night. We lunched at the Red Cross Club for service men. It is in an old hotel right on the main street and seemed to me quite adequate for present needs. I met the mayor, who later introduced me to the heads of various patriotic organizations, and the heads of the Women's Military Auxiliary Services in this area.
He presented me with a very nice letter to take back to my husband and, in addition, he gave me a tray made of inlaid woods all grown in this neighborhood. I talked with various boys in there and in another canteen not far away and then went to see the barracks, where the Australian girls serving in the Army Auxiliary live. These certainly would try the hardiest girls, for their beds are no more comfortable than those of the average soldier.
For a little time we were taken over by the Navy and shown what they could accomplish in far away places. I shall be glad to report to Dr. McIntyre the very good health of this unit, but, at the same time, preparation and equipment to do much more is necessary.
At the Red Cross Club, I sat down to lunch with the club director and he said, "If you see my mother-in-law, Mrs. Wilmerding, will you please tell her you saw me." I cannot help feeling sometimes that there are boys whom I know in the groups that I see, but they do not get a chance to make themselves known, because they may be in military formation. I wish that it were possible to see soldiers informally everywhere, so one would miss no one that had some tie or acquaintanceship.
I discovered a new reason for writing a column tonight. The Red Cross girls, who run the officers rest home where we spent the night, said that in discussing plans for our reception tonight they found themselves feeling sure that they knew my likes and dislikes, because they had read my column and felt they knew me.
This is the first place where we have met with any mosquitoes, but here I was introduced to a bomb used to drive them away. My net was carefully let down around my bed, so I would be sure not to take any mosquitoes in with me.
The full moon, the soft air and the sound of the waves breaking on the beach take me back to similar scenes in less tropical surroundings. How little I ever thought when I wandered on the moonlight beaches on the coast of Maine, that I would one day see one in Australia and sit all evening listening to the waves while we talked of America with American men, who wanted to know what was going on at home while they fought a war thousands of miles away.
Out here there is great interest in the speed of production at home, for the men who have been here twenty months remember facing the enemy with scarcely any plane protection. They went hungry sometimes for 24 hours, because there were not enough planes to fly them food, as well as ammunition and reinforcements. Now the picture is a very different one, but since they want to end the war, they want no lag in the flow of supplies.