Dont laugh at how they talk. Dont make fun of their money. And dont imply that they would have lost World War I if it werent for us Yanks.
Those were a few of the tips given to GIs stationed in England during World War II. They appear in a reprint that I bought recently. Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942 was issued by the War Department in Washington.
Most of the U.S. troops stationed in England before the invasion of Europe had never been abroad before. Sometimes, their remarks and attitudes irritated the British, who had been fighting Hitler since 1939.
A few highlights from the booklet:
Dont re-fight old wars. If youre from an Irish-American family, dont think of the British as persecutors. Dont compare British soldiers to the Redcoats we fought during the Revolution, either. Remember that the British and Americans are much alike. We speak the same language and believe in representative government.
The British are reserved, not unfriendly. England is a small, crowded country where people guard their privacy. They are shy, and not given to back-slapping. If they dont talk to you on a bus or train, they simply dont want to seem intrusive or rude. Be aware of their slang: bloody is a swear word; bum is a term for a persons backside.
English money. The British like their system of pounds, shillings and pence. They wont be pleased to hear you call it funny money.
Dont be a show off. GIs are paid more than any soldiers in the world. British troops are touchy on that subject, and they wont think any better of you for throwing money around. Dont belittle them or steal their girls.
Dont boast. Dont tell a Britisher that we came over and won the last one. Britain lost nearly 1 million men in World War I; America lost 60,000 men in action. Remember that crossing the ocean doesnt automatically make you a hero. There are housewives in aprons and youngsters in knee pants in Britain who have lived through more high explosives in air raids than many soldiers saw in first-class barrages in the last war. To date, Nazi bombs have killed 60,000 British civilians.
Hardships at home. Times are tough. To help the war effort, British houses havent been painted, parks and gardens have gone untended and trains have grown grimy. Food, clothes, cigarettes and gasoline have been rationed.
Dont knock the king. Personal rule by the king ended nearly 1,000 years ago. Today, he reigns but does not govern. The British love and respect him.
Getting along. Yes, the British drive on the left side of the road, drink warm beer and enjoy cricket, soccer and rugby. Just remind yourself that such things belong to England, just as baseball and jazz and Coca-Cola belong to us.
And finally, It is always impolite to criticize your hosts, and militarily stupid to criticize your allies.
Article posted automatically from www.PathfinderOnline.co.uk, the UK's first historical military online magazine.