MARCH 16, 1944
SOMEWHERE IN THE WEST INDIES, Wednesday—Saturday we flew over many islands. The one that looked the most interesting from the air was Saba, which belongs to Curacao. As far as one can see from the air, the cliffs go right down into the sea, but there must be a landing place somewhere. The summit has a number of very flat places, and these are dotted with little red-roofed houses with fields laid out in regular squares.
St. Christopher's Island was pointed out to me, and I feel sure it must be what I have always heard called St. Kitt's. In a very short time we landed on Antigua. The governor and some of the island officials met me, and we exchanged regrets that I would only have time to see our American troops. Then I proceeded to see the men, the barracks, mess halls, kitchens, libraries and recreation rooms. I was sorry not to be able to go to St. John's to see the cathedral which was built in 1678.
We went on the St. Lucia where again I was met by the governor and some of the island officials. I spent my time at this base as usual, seeing the men and the barracks and the hospital. Our final flight was into Trinidad, where we arrived in time to leave our bags at Colonel William V. Rattan's house, which he very kindly turned over to us, and then we went immediately to mess with the men.
The band played outside while we ate, and the music was delightful. We had a particularly nice group of young men—one Puerto Rican and the others from various states in the union. They asked me about rationing at home, as usual, and seemed to think that people were not getting enough to eat.
I told them that was not really our trouble. It was just that we were not accustomed to the point system and not being able to buy whatever we needed. One boy said: "My mother has always had a big family and she is accustomed to laying in supplies on Saturday, but she can't do it now." I told him that they were getting part of the food we didn't use, so we really didn't mind.
After supper with the men, we went back to dress and I went to a number of movie theatres in different areas to deliver a message from the President to the men. Finally we went to the Officers' Club dance. It was a delightfully cool evening. The most beautiful tropical moon made it almost as bright as day. One of the blessings of being stationed in Trinidad is that the nights are cool, and one sleeps under a blanket although the days may be very warm.
At 4 a.m. I was awakened by what sounded like a flood, but it was just a severe tropical rain, however, and like most tropical rains, did not last long.
There are snakes on this island, but fortunately I didn't see any and nobody seems to be really troubled by them. There are a number of malaria cases in the hospital, but the malaria control people are doing a wonderful piece of work and there are fewer and fewer cases.
On the whole, in all the islands, health seemed good among the men, and the hospitals and clinics do a good job of prevention as well as of cure.