Feb. 18, 1946
War Brides Begin Arriving in U.S
The voyage, the passengers agreed, was a bit unpleasant. The
third day out of Southampton the 20,600-ton Argentina
began to toss and quiver under the Atlantic's wintry buffeting.
Passengers stayed below while sea water sloshed down the
companionways. A baby was pitched from his crib, gashing his
head. Homesickness gave way to acute seasickness and childress
wives helped the medical staff, inadequate for such wholesale
illness, feed babies and tend collapsed mothers. A sickroom
smell filled the crowded staterooms.
That was how the first contingent in the Army's dependent-
transportation program, whereby firls who married U.S. soldiers
overseas are being restored to returned husbands, began its
voyage to the U.S. Argentina group numbered 456 wives
and mothers, all British subjects and their 170 babies, all of
them U.S. citizens (the wives can become so in two years). It
is estimated the program eventually will add more than 70,000
citizens and citizens-to-be to the U.S. population.
The heavy weather lifted sporadically during the voyage. Then
there was time on deck and to watch movies that were to acquaint
them with their new country (of Amazing America, one of them
reported, "Not very impressed"). There was a baby contest and
the wives even put on a show, Argentian Antics. One girl, bound
for a Southern home, practiced hard on a Southern accent.
Nine days after embarking, they slipped into New York's ice-
clotted harbor, oddly quiet because of the tug strike. In the
chilly quiet of a February dawn the historic skyline was faintly
visible. Bartholdi's Liberty glowed her perennial welcome.
Then came physical examinations, a trip across town and finally,
in the Red Cross Chapter House, joyful reunion with ex-GI
husbands, some of them slightly unfamiliar in civilian clothes.