The British and commonwealth countries were very fortunate to have America as an Allie during both World Wars and since. The Americans under President Woodrow Wilson came into World War One in April 1917. Three years after hostilities began against the Germans. In that short time until the War ended in November1918 the Americans lost 116,000 men. Incidentally the United Kingdom lost 900,000 men in the four years of war. The figures do not include the many casualties. The manpower and the American industries in the manufacture of arms and ships played a big part in the outcome of the war.
During World War Two the Americans came into the War through being attacked at Pearl Harbour on December 7th 1941. The President of the United States, the great Franklin D. Roosevelt in his speech to the American nation in declaring war on the Japanese Empire said “December 7th 1941 was a date which will live in infamy.” On December 11th 1941 four days after United States declared war on the Japanese Empire. Hitler and Mussolini declared war on the United States of America. Great Britain had stood alone for two long years and now we had the American might as an ally to fight alongside us Prime Minister Winston Churchill was over the moon, because he knew the tide of the war would change. Once again the manpower of the American Forces and the massive industrial manufacture of weapons, planes and ships would come into force and bring about the eventual victory and history shows it did.
The first American Troops arrived in Britain in the early months of 1942. This build up continued as they were stationed in various camps throughout the country. They built and occupied Airfields in the South East of England for the USAAF. It was from these airfields they bravely undertook daylight bombing raids over enemy occupied Europe. Just the same as the Royal Air Force they had many losses at the end of 1944 there was nearly 450,000 United States Airmen stationed in Britain. In contrast to the 1.5 million ground troops who were preparing for the invasion of Hitler’s held Europe. The Troops were again stationed in camps scattered around Great Britain. All this must have been a big task in manpower organisation, but it was done. The British soldier was paid at that time 14 shillings a week (70P) While the American servicemen were paid £3 8s 9d (3.44). My father’s wages at the time was £5.10 shilling a week and he had my mother and three children to support. The American GIs with money in their pockets, better uniforms etc. were a hit with the girls who enjoyed their company and the perks that went with it such as nylons etc. One has to remember the young women of Great Britain had to do war work, either in the factory or in the services. No doubt the Americans put a much needed sparkle into their lives at a time when they needed it. Obviously this caused a bit of friction with the British military personnel, who came out with the term “Over paid. Over sexed and over here.” There were in the region of 70,000 British women who married American servicemen and when the war was over, they sailed to America for new lives.
Personally I only saw a few American servicemen in my part of England. Whenever they were seen, children of my age and older were usually following them saying “Have you got any gum chum” Overall the Americans were very popular and it was assuring to have them on our side in achieving the ultimate victory in Europe and the Far East. .