The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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London, England, Monday—at nine-thirty we left Chequers and Mrs. Churchill accompanied us. We were joined at our first stop by Mrs. Hobby, Lieut. Bandel and Mrs. L.V. Whateley, Senior Controller, Auxiliary Territorial Service. This was a training center of the Auxiliary Territorial Airforce. After I had had the general scheme of work explained to me, we went out to see the personnel. Next to each type of plane stood a group of girls who had learned to fly them for the ferry command. I was interested to find that several of them had USA on their shoulders. They are the girls brought over by Jacqueline Cochran have now become a part of this service. From the planes we passed along to various service trucks, all of them driven by women, and then into the workshops where women were working alone, or with men, on the machines.

We were all offered tea before starting off again to see the recruit training station of the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

Here we watched a physical training class, saw the recreation and canteen rooms; the officers' mess, the sergeants' mess and recreation room; the building used as a chapel and a small clinic and hospital where minor ailments are cared for and finally the sleeping quarters. There is an "ablution unit" which contains bathtubs, showers, washbasins and toilets, a room where the girls may wash and iron their clothes and where dryers are provided. Everything was adequate but extremely simple, both in construction and in furnishings. One of the things which impressed me most was the training of the cooks. Perhaps you remember the old saying that an army marches on its stomach. An old time chef who is now a sergeant in the army is the head of this training. The girls spend two weeks preparing and cooking food in small portions and then eating it themselves! They have two weeks training in use of left overs which are made into tempting snacks for the evening buffet supper. Finally they cook for two weeks out of doors on the makeshift stoves which they build themselves, using a few bricks and variegated tin cans. They may be called upon to prepare meals in blitzed areas, in rain or shine, in quiet or with bombs dropping around them. They must be ready for anything. About one thousand girls are trained in this center at a time.

From the recruiting center we went to a secondary training station where girls who have finished their basic training and who wish to enter the transport service, are taught to drive every type of army conveyance. They learn to change the enormous tires without too much exertion and to detect the usual ailments which assail motor cars and to remedy them.

After returning to London I went into the American Red Cross Nurses' Club run by Mrs. Anthony Biddle and her committee. It is a delightful place and a refuge also for junior officers coming to London. The Red Cross officials assure me, however, that a club for junior officers will soon be opened.

Elliott was at the with Ambassador Winant when I got back. We could only have a few minutes talk as we barely had time to get ready to dine with the Ambassador who had asked a number of Americans so they could tell me something about their work here. It was very nice to see some old friends, among others, Mr. William Phillips.

I started again yesterday morning at nine-thirty to see some of the civilian defense work with the Minister of Home Security. At fire-control headquarters we saw various demonstrations in which both men and women took part, showing the training given for fire fighting and some of the actual work performed. It is uniform now throughout the United Kingdom, so that when people go from one place to another, the methods used are standard.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • London (England, United Kingdom) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 29, 1942

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a draft version of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. My Day column draft dated October 28, 1942, FDR Library, Hyde Park, NY
TMsd, 28 October 1942, AERP, FDRL