MARCH 18, 1944
SOMEWHERE IN THE WEST INDIES, Friday—I think I am more deeply impressed by the work of the engineering groups and the Seabees on the different bases on Trinidad than anywhere else, though it is impressive everywhere in this area. In Trinidad the Seabees have cut a base out of the jungle and cleared about 32 square miles. A number of fine roads have been built and one of them looks like an extraordinary feat of engineering.
Sunday morning we visited the naval operating base including the naval air station. Everything was planned in expectation of more active opposition in this area than we have encountered, but our very preparation is what has brought about our safety.
The naval hospital here is a fine hospital with every facility for taking care of the men. There are a few serious accident cases, but all are getting well. One youngster will have a permanent handicap to fight, but he has the stuff to win, I think.
During the day we drove to a high point where there is an extremely interesting station. The officer in charge seemed to feel that he and his men were all one family, and were particularly privileged to be by themselves on top of a mountain! The naval base has many acres of citrus fruit, and if properly taken care of, these orchards ought to provide our men with fresh fruit and be a great asset to the fleet and bases in this area.
Sir Bede Clifford and several of the island officials met me on our arrival in Trinidad, and we met again at a dinner at the Officers' Club at Macqueripe. There is a beautiful view of the harbor from this club, and it is in every way a charming spot with a good swimming beach.
We saw the most wonderful recreation area at Scotland Bay which was developed by the men on the station and the men from the ships which come in here. Everything that anyone could possibly want to do out of doors is at hand. Some of the men were doing some fancy diving; others were practicing upsetting in a rubber boat and climbing back. Basketball, horse shoe pitching, and just lying in the sun with the prospects of food cooked on the out of door grills and soft drinks and beer when they wanted them seemed to provide a good day's outing to all.
I also saw the recreation rooms for enlisted men on the post, and one club for the non-commissioned officers, all of which must help to build up morale—that intangible thing that nobody likes to talk about but which everybody thinks about. In the evening I went to two USO clubs in Port of Spain. Both were well equipped and crowded.
I would like to mention the work of a Colored Naval construction unit which has done such good work that it has earned a wonderful reputation among all the officers.