SEPTEMBER 3, 1943
[(Note to readers: The following exclusive report has been received by wireless from New Zealand. Mrs. Roosevelt on this trip is travelling as a representative of the American Red Cross. All of her receipts from her column will be divided between the American Red Cross and the American Friends Service Committee.)]
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, September 2 — We had our breakfast on the train yesterday morning and were allowed just time enough to leave our bags at the officers’ club in the Grand Hotel, before we started at 8:35 to visit a U.S. Naval mobile hospital. This hospital has the kind of record which makes us proud of our efficiency, and so I am going to give you its history.
On June 9th, 1942, it left New York and on July 11th, 1942 it arrived in Wellington, New Zealand. On July 19th, 1942 it arrived at Auckland and on July 20th construction began. By August 16th they had completed more than 40 buildings to house 250 members of the staff and personnel and 380 patients, with all facilities for feeding. I should explain here that some buildings were brought with the unit but many of local construction have been added since. New Zealand workmen worked very hard, but even the doctors took a hammer in hand, because our men were going into Guadalcanal and this was the second hospital in this area and had to be ready to care for our wounded.
On August 20th, 366 severe battle casualties were received from the first naval battle for Guadalcanal. From that day to August 20th, 1943, this hospital has handled over 15,000 patients with only 18 deaths. The present normal capacity of the hospital is 1150, and in an emergency 1800. The administration also controls 1160 beds for convalescents. Some of the convalescents are housed at a race track under the spectator stands, and I know you would be as surprised as I was to see how comfortable these quarters are. I need hardly say that when a race is run the boys have a wonderful day.
Our party ate in the men’s mess at noon yesterday and the food seemed to me very good. They put fresh milk in large pitchers on all tables. This country has good rich milk, which our boys seem to appreciate. I am giving you here a sample of one of the day’s menus, because I know that every woman wonders whether her son, husband or sweetheart in a hospital is getting good food and enough of it.
Breakfast consisted of assorted fruits, assorted dry cereals, eggs, creamed ham on toast, hash brown potatoes and hot biscuits. For dinner they had beef and vegetable broth, grilled steak and gravy, creamed whipped potatoes, spanish string beans, creamed cauliflower, vegetable salad, assorted pie, diced cheese and ice cream. The supper menu had pepper pot soup, braised lamb cubes with gravy, cranberry sauce, lima beans, chopped silver beets, wilted lettuce salad, jelly and whipped cream. You will agree, I am sure, that on such a diet any patient should put on weight.
At 12:30, a civic reception was held in Town Hall. These gatherings are very impressive and fill me with awe, for the mere presence of so many people is evidence that they are honoring not an individual but a country and its elected ruler. My part dwindles to nothing, except as I am able to embody in what I say something of the goodwill which we at home feel towards all people of the United Nations with whom we stand side by side today.
In the afternoon we visited successively, a Red Cross Service Club, which has seen half a million men pass through its doors since it opened. The outstanding thing to me is how such a small number of American Red Cross Personnel with New Zealand volunteers ever has done the work and met the needs of the great number of men in this area. Then we went to two rest homes, both run by Red Cross, where young flyers come to rest in great numbers, as well as men from other branches of the service. At 4:00 o’clock we went to a tea at Government House, the Auckland home of the Governor General, which he has donated as a club for the Allies. The last thing was a dance run by Red Cross in the evening at Town Hall, at which Artie Shaw’s orchestra gave everyone much pleasure.
(Copyright 1943 by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)