Admiral Stark's Diary Entry from Thanksgiving Day, 1942
November 28, 1942.
MEMORANDUM ON THANKSGIVING DAY
First, the spirit of Thanksgiving seemed to pervade the air.
Ever since the African expedition which, coming on top of the
advance through Libya, the Russian great offensive, and our
splendid naval success in the Solomons, there has been an air of
optimism and cheerfulness which showed how much something of this
sort was needed. Far be it from me to throw any damper on this,
but here’s hoping it does not dim anybody’s appreciation of the
tough work ahead. Every bit of confidence, of course, helps.
Had an early morning call from de Gaulle, who came into my
office about 9:30. He was in an especially good mood, complimented
us on what we had done, extended good wishes for the day to all of
us and we had a general pow-wow and, of course, the French and our
own situations and relations being predominant. He left just in
time for me to rush to my car and go to Westminster Abbey for the
Thanksgiving Day service at 10:30.
The Abbey was crowded to the doors, uniforms dominating, both
our own and British; not only soldiers and sailors and airmen,
but also the ATS, WAAFS and WRENS, and the Red Cross. The Ambassador
read the President’s Proclamation, and the rest of the service was
largely conducted by U.S. Army chaplains, and the sermon delivered
by one of them. It was a very impressive gathering. Upon the
conclusion of this service we had a few moments before going to
the Dorchester for lunch.
The American Society in London gave a big Thanksgiving dinner
at which the guests numbered somewhere about six hundred. The
Ambassador received, and again read the President’s Proclamation.
But, to revert to the dinner for a moment, it was a REAL Thanks-
giving dinner: - turkey, chestnuts, cranberry sauce, and all the
rest of it, winding up with pumpkin pie and mince pie and ice
cream. When the Ambassador had finished with the President’s
Proclamation and his expression of thanks to the American Society
for the dinner, he called on me for a talk of which, of course,
I had been warned. I laughingly told him, when he asked me to be
the guest of honor, that I wished he would let me read the procla-
mation and he make the talk. Certainly what I had to say could
be applauded at least for its brevity; something under five minutes –
[copy attached]. Then the President of the Society made a very nice
talk which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Mr. Alexander, First Lord
of the Admiralty, then warmed up. He is always interesting and
talked to us for nearly half an hour. We had to rush immediately
upon his finishing for the reception at Buckingham Palace.
The King and Queen held a perfectly delightful reception.
There were a few of us ushered into one of the large warm rooms
ahead of everybody else, where we had a chat for a few minutes with
the King and Queen and the two dear little girls, and incidentally,
Elizabeth is not so little anymore. She is a very nice looking
girl, bright and pleasant to talk to, just like her Mother. The
younger one, Margaret Rose, is tiny for her 12 years, but also
bright as she can be. The Prime Minister was also present, and
some other members of the family. ‘Twas very pleasant. A little
later the other guests came in and shook hands with the King and
Queen and went on into a larger reception hall, where there was a
bountiful repast of whatever one wanted to eat or drink. After
the guests all passed by the receiving line, the family (that is,
the King, Queen and two youngsters) came in and mingled among the
guests for about an hour and a half. It was very informal, every-
body felt at home, and had a fine time. During this time I again
had a good chance to talk to Her Majesty, also the two youngsters,
as well as the King. As a matter of fact, they shook hands when
they came in the room, and again when they came in the reception
hall, so that all together there were three happy conversations
with them. Among the guests was Mary Churchill, the Prime Minister’s
younger daughter, and a very sweet, wholesome, fine girl, whom I
enjoyed talking to a great deal. This party, which started at 3.15
broke up about 5.30. I rushed back, scrubbed up a little, and
proceeded to the British-Norwegian Institute, Rutland House,
Rutland Gardens, to talk before members of the “Norwegian Center
for Inter-Allied Lectures”.
Had an interesting time with the Norwegians, talked to them
for about half an hour and enjoyed it. King Haakon was there as
well as Crown Prince Olaf, Ambassador Biddle, and all the high
ranking officers of Norway in London. This party started at 6.30
and wound up at 7.30 when, without any break, we went to the Hotel
Connaught for dinner with King Haakon and his civil and military
The dinner at the Connaught was another turkey Thanksgiving
dinner, and a pleasant windup to the day. It broke up reasonably
early, for which I was glad, as I had wanted to do a little read-
ing before an appointment with the Ambassador when we were both
free. He was dining with Anthony Eden. I called him sometime
after eleven and he said if it was all right with me, we could put
it off until morning, and I said it was all right with me, so I
toddled home and tumbled in, wondering what the next year would
bring forth and what sort of a Thanksgiving 1943 would be, and
where. Here’s hopin’.
(See next page for list of guests at the above mentioned
Thursday, November 26, 1942 (continued)
List of guests at dinner at the Connaught Hotel
after lecture at Norwegian Institute:
His Majesty The King of Norway
His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Norway
Rear Admiral Kirk
Lieutenant Colonel Ostgaard
Lieutenant Commander Kittredge
Lieutenant Commander Agar
Friday, November 27, 1942
Called on Mr. Winant at 1000 and at 1100 Mr.
Charles Peake called to discuss program of General de
Gaulle’s visit and conversation in United States.
At 1200 General Catroux (High Commissioner for
France in Syria), who had just arrived from France a
couple of days before, called on me. He impressed me
just as much as the other French General, d’Astier de
la Vigerie who had called the other day. We thought Catroux
would be a good man to accompany de Gaulle to Washington
if, and when, he made the trip.
Saturday, November 28, 1942.
Worked quite hard trying to clean up most of the
accumulated work from the previous day, and at 1700
rushed over to be present for a few minutes at the