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Londoners Are Living Through Historic Days

By JAMES LANSDALE HODSON LONDON, July 20. are living through great and * v historic days, yet in a sense we have to keep reminding ourselves of the fact. That is because, I suppose, we are all suffering from reaction. A lot of my friends, who have borne up splendidly for nearly six years of war, are now unwell. There is nervous exhaustion. Many of us are irritable and bad-tempered. We want a long holiday, and net many of us are going to be lucky enough to get it. This period of minor transitions from a war that absorbed all our thoughts and energies to a war that permits a measure of demobilisation and the turnover of industry is extraordinarily mixed.

One change is that London has been declared an open port again. It has never been closed entirely, but it was reguarly swept for mines right up to Hammersmith and Kew. I remember a night when the water of St. Katherine's Dock was coated with blazing wax and for a long time ships in the London pool were but a handful. But without the "Man in the Street" knowing about it, the port gradually reawakened until during the year from D day to VB day the London port staff handled more goods than in the prewar years. Moreover, it was on the Thames side that three-quarters of the concrete work for the famous "mulberry harbours" was built. What a record it is! Well, old London port is on the road to being her old self again.

Factories Change Over

That is one manifestation. Another is that we are learning what is to happen to some wartime factories the Government is relinquishing. One, near Swansea, in the tin-plate-anthracite area, is to become an English Geneva and make watches; a second, not far off, is to manufacture false teeth and toys; and a third, in South Wales, will' turn over to underwear. An explosives factory in Cumberland is to be used to manufacture cellulose yarn, the mining town of Barnsley, Yorkshire, is to have a factory for producing bats and balls (quite appropriate because Yorkshire is famous for cricket), and Dundee, noted for its jute industry, is to have also a rubber and plastics industry. We have slowly learned that towns stand a better chance of remaining prosperous when their trades are manifold. Too often in the past the decay of a shipyard or colliery has left a small town derelict. The distribution and dispersal of industry ought to help cure this abuse.

"London is Proud of Elsenhower"

In this mixed period of events when men are getting ready to go to the Far East to continue the war, when the streets are filled with soldiers and airmen on long leave while their future is decided, and when we are reminded by the sight of terribly wounded and disfigured men how unequal the sacrifices in war are, most of us were stirred by General "Eisenhower's bearing when the freedom of London was given to him. How superbly he carries his corn! When he said in his speech, "Humility must always be the portion of any man who received acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends," he spoke a sentence that will go down through the years. We had heard before of his fine modesty, notably this, that one day when he, along with General Alexander, was taking the salute at a march past in North Africa after the triumph in Tunisia, he turned to Alexander after some battalions of kilted men and English Guards had marched by and, with tears in his eyes, said, "Who am I to command men like these?" There is spontaneity and warmth and simplicity and generosity about the best Americans that is infinitely touching. London is proud of its new freedom.

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Bibliographic details

Londoners Are Living Through Historic Days, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 180, 1 August 1945

Word Count

Londoners Are Living Through Historic Days Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 180, 1 August 1945

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