In late October 1942, Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt had been flown non-stop from an airport on Long Island to Foynes in Southern Ireland. Bad weather meant that she could not immediately transfer to another plane to take her onto London. In her memoirs she remarks: “It was pouring rain, and as we transferred from the plane to the open boat to go ashore I realised that my raincoat and umbrella were stowed away in my bags in the wings of the plane. The hat that I had bought new for the trip was ruined and I looked a bit bedraggled when I got on land.”
Her uncle, David Gray, the newly appointed ‘minister’ (ambassador) to Ireland, was particularly concerned that none of the aides landing unexpectedly on Irish soil would be in military uniform since the Irish government, under its neutrality laws, would be forced to intern them. Mrs Roosevelt slightly dismisses this concern when she writes in her memoirs: “It was a bit of a farce because the Irish authorities closed their eyes to much somewhat incriminating evidence.”
Mrs Roosevelt’s hat was again the focus of attention when she arrived back in Ireland for her visit to Belfast and Derry with the Derry Standard reporting: “Mrs Roosevelt, it is interesting to tell, wore the same hat as she had worn for the past sixteen days in England”.
In any case, as the Armistice Day photograph demonstrates, any hat would have been upstaged by those worn by the Londonderry Corporation Aldermen and Councillors and the two Sergeants-at-Mace.
Does anyone know the names of the Aldermen and Sergeants-at-Mace?