Americans in Norfolk
The extract below, from an article that appeared in December 2008's Century Bulletin captures something of the differences between the Americans and their British hosts. It was written by ex LAC (Leading Aircraftman) Robbins RAF who was stationed at Thorpe Abbots when the Amerians arrived.
The benefits of the arrival of the Americans so far as we were concerned were mixed:
1. Our miniature NAAFI was replaced by the PX that offered a range of goods that we were not accustomed to see in wartime Britain.
2. Our cheap cigarette ration was replaced by the American ration of 200 Camels or Lucky Strikes for 3p for twenty - not much direct use to a non-smoker but of considerable value for bartering purposes and wonderful when one went home.
3. Liberty buses to Norwich in the evenings instead of using the bike to go into Diss.
4. A transfer to American rations for food - rich, exotic and often strange to us.
5. USO concerts instead of a complete lack of entertainment.
Against the benefits could be set some quite material disadvantages:
1. We were grossly underpaid compared with the people we worked with.
2. The strange eating habits, as they were fascinated by our normal use of both knife and fork at a meal, as we were by their habit of mixing everything up and chopping with the knife and then just using a fork.
3. The objection of the American dining hall staff to us using two plates when one was big enough. Who wants pork chop, apple sauce, potato, sweet corn, peas, gravy, pineapple chunks, cream and strawberry jam all on one plate?
4. Eternal copy with every meal and not a drop of tea.
5. The lack of any beer or female company in the area as the Americans could afford both.
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