Courseworks

Americans in South Norfolk and North Suffolk: presence and legacy, 1942- present day

1) Explain why and how the American Army air Forces used bases in South Norfolk and North Suffolk in the War against Germany 1942-1945.Britain had been bombing Germany since it was the only attack it could muster after the incident a Dunkirque, which left troops feeling very bad about themselves, the chances of winning the war and also left them with very little infantry weapons or tanks.The Americans used bases in England because, I believe, America wanted the status and the challenge of achieving continuous successful bombing efforts on one of the most Formidable Air Defence systems in the world at that time. So as to show the world they have the superior technology, an argument for why America used the A-Bomb. Britain had been asking America for help for a long time, the American citizens were reluctant to help Britain because of a number of reasons such as:Most of the population of America Originated from countries that were not renowned for their friendship with Britain for various reasons, such as War. These were countries such as Italy, Ireland, also people like the American Nazi party wanted Hitler to win for obvious reasons.Another reason was that they had helped us out before and many Americans had been killed and America didn’t really gain anything so they were reluctant to do it again.To join with the war effort costs a lot of money, with little reimbursement if you are not fighting for freedom.At the end of World War I America ‘fell out’ with Britain because they didn’t see eye to eye on each others methods of punishing Germany.Read also about Department of the Army HeadquartersThe American president tried to help Britain without losing support by sending over weapons and munitions on a ‘lend-lease’ agreement, but both leaders involved knew that Britain could never pay back the amount of money needed for this amount of weaponry. The president was worried about losing support because the major election was coming up and he was relying on the citizens support to keep his presidency, his main rival Wendell Wilkie was very anti-war because he knew that the people wanted no war. Even well known celebrities such as Charles Lindenburgh said that America had gotten used to a Europe dominated by France and Britain, so all that America had to do was get used to one dominated by Germany. When the boats carrying this cargo got sunk by the Germans America felt more and more that it should enter the war, but only did so after Hitler declared war on America. The first Citizens that America chose were drafted in, which shows the reluctance of the people to aid Britain in the war effort.America spent nearly 1000 Million pounds building more than 130 airfields in the southeast of England because of the ideal conditions that this part of the country had. These included having a relatively flat landscape, very good land for building on, i.e. it wasn’t hard like clay, and it was as near to the continent as it got.The Airfields were built near densely populated communities because there were very little sparsely populated communities on flat enough land to build an airfield on, and it was more important to get the airfields closer to the continent than it was to get them away from the clustered communities. In 1939, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, the Air Ministry was permitted to take immediate possession of any area of flat land thought to be suitable for airfield construction. Some farmers were unhappy with these demands, particularly when farmhouses and cottages in line with proposed runways had to be totally demolished.A diagram showing most of the airfields of East AngliaIt was very unlikely that the Germans would bomb the small communities on the South East of England. The American air force, which was sent over, was known as the Eighth air force, and was in terms of men and aircraft the largest offensive air force in history.The 8th Air Force was, ultimately, composed of three Air Divisions that were, in effect, air forces within an air force, each with fighter units and maintenance organizations to support the bomber operations. Strategic bombing involved campaigns to destroy the industries and communications that directly or indirectly supported the enemy’s war effort. In the event, RAF Bomber command concentrated on night attacks while its American counterpart, the 8th Air Force, operated mainly in daylight. For every man in the air there were three on the ground engaged in support like cooks, clerks, engineers, armourers and many others essential to functioning the group.Most of the bases needed three concrete runways, each measuring 150ft wide and the longest, which was orientated into the prevailing south westerly wind, was 6,000ft long. In addition there was the need for a control tower, ammunition and bomb depots and a huge fuel store. Asingle airbase in those days cost almost �1million and the airfield bill for the United States Army Air Forces alone amounted to �650 million.2) Describe the impact the American Forces had upon the local Area and its Communities during the war yearsWhen the American Air force came to East Anglia, understandably, the whole of England was very glad that the Americans would help to fight Germany by working with England. The Whole of England had been at war for around three years now. By this time we were very poor and even more so by American standards. People had very little possessions but in England we had a certain pride, which would not let Americans feel sorry for us. An example of this was when families invited G.Is from surrounding bases around for tea or Sunday dinner. Even though we had been harshly rationed to very little meat, sugar and vegetables, amongst other things, per week people still had the decency to invite around G.Is. Whether this was just to be polite or to show the Americans that they need not feel sorry for us, however, I don’t know. The Americans anticipated this and so they told the G.Is that when they were invited to a house for dinner that they were not to eat too much because they didn’t want to be responsible for making the family go hungry for the rest of the week. The Americans were also told not to ‘flash’ their money around because they got three times as much as the British pilot; this was also because of the British pride.The American pilots were given a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” when in Britain. This was to limit the bad relations that were inevitable between the Americans and the British public and Pilots. This was also to stop any Propaganda; if there were bad feelings towards each other the Germans would capitalise on it. An example of this was that most Americans didn’t know what the Royal family did; this would really offend the British of that time.Some of the locals would have ill feelings towards the Americans before they arrived. People like farmers who had lost lots of their lad due to the building of airfields on their land, they, of course, would not realise how important it was to build the airfields in these locations. Also during the war the Americans became a real ‘hit’ with the ladies, this would damage the British people’s ego and make them feel inferior, and the British men didn’t take kindly to this which left them resenting the Americans. Local businesses such as shops or pubs saw the Americans as a very big earner. Because the Americans had so mush money they could afford things that hardly any British people could; like bikes and good quality clothes. However this lead to bad relations also because people like taxi drivers, shopkeepers and landlords charged more for the Americans because some Americans had little knowledge of the value of English currency, which was to be fair a very complicated one. The women seemed dazzled by the Americans charm, money, style, upfront attitude and looks. The women were ‘taken’ with the G.Is and lots of relationships were formed because the British women were captivated and longed for some excitement, whereas some of the Americans had just wanted some female ‘company’ because they had been away from women for a longer period than most of them had experienced before. Many of these relationships ended in marriage, which was not always a good thing because when the G.Is left The women were shipped over to America and never met by their husbands because they were either already married or didn’t like the commitment. Not all of the marriages ended like this and most lived together happily, normally in America, but then the British women got the culture shock, they had the impression that everyone was laid back about everything, but in reality the Americans worked very hard all the time and so some of the women left because of this to.The G.Is had a special relationship with children, one different than the adults of Britain had. This might have been for a number of reasons like the G.Is had to leave behind their own children and they missed the feeling of interaction with children. Or a more ‘meaningful’ view would be that the G.Is knew that any day they could go on a bombing mission and not come back alive and so they wanted to experience what some fathers would view as one of the most profound experiences of fatherhood by playing sport and treating the children to see the look on their faces. The children were invited into the bases all the time to experience American sports and some American food such as baseball and hot dogs. The Americans probably felt sorry for the British children because they didn’t have very good food or fun in the same way as the American children did and the Americans just wanted to make the kids feel better about the war. Americans would also normally have pocket fulls of ‘candy’ which they would give to British children in the street, this started a saying if the British Children wanted some sweets ‘Got any gum, Chum’ the children would say to the G.I’s.3) Analyse the long term effects and changes brought about in the local area and its communities since 1945 as a result of the Americans’ wartime stay.America was way ahead in relation to Britain on almost everything that shapes a society. The Americans had huge portions of food such as Hot dogs, burgers and French fries, whereas the British food was “meat and veg” and that was basically it. Our beer was warm, it tasted bad and you either had Bitter or Mild. The American beer was chilled, there were different sorts like larger and it tasted a lot better. The British men regarded perfume or fragrances on men to be a sign of homosexuality, but the Americans wore deodorants and fragrances. The music the Americans brought over with them was a style nobody in Britain had ever heard before; it was called ‘swing’ and in comparison to the likes of George Formby sounded very good.The largest difference though, and one which shocked the Americans as much as the British was the American attitude to ‘courting’ as it was called then. Before then British people had a system for people who wanted to ‘see’ each other. The man would ask permission of the lady’s father if he could go out with his daughter. If the fathers response was yes then the young couple would have an older person, to watch that they didn’t get up to anything considered unacceptable, called a chaperone. The Americans just went up to girls and asked them directly with no regard for their parents’ wishes, because that wasn’t how it was done in America. The Americans view on women was a completely different one to the view held by the British; this is evident of the Paintings on the nose of planes.They were often of women wearing very little and this was considered highly disrespectful and rude. In view of all these cultural contrasts and how out of place any of the British customs seem in Britain nowadays I would say that it is safe to say that we owe much of our tastes and ways of life to the American G.I’s that came over during the war. For instance, there is no British man who could say that wearing perfume doesn’t impress ladies more than body odour, or not many children would prefer meat and 2 veg to a Hamburger and fries. It is not just adults who were children then or the children of today, it is Britain as a whole society who has changed and become accustomed to this way of life.As a local area, though, I would say that there is not a lot that is different, that would not have happened eventually, anyway. The local area has failed to capitalise on the potential for a large industrial sites that would be ideal for businesses and companies. There are a few places, which have been constructed on, but most have not been fully capitalised on. Examples of these are:Attlebridge— now a turkey farm.Bodney-now a ministry of defence training camp.Bungay— now a poultry farmFramlingham-now farm land with memorial museum to the 39th bomb group in control tower.Halesworth-now a turkey farmDeopham Green-now agricultural land with remains of runways.More airfields that were put to good uses were ones such as:Snetterton-now used as a motor racing circuitShipdham-Two of the runways were refurbished in 1970 and are now used by Arrow Air Services for taxi and charter work.North Pickenham-which was home to three ‘THOR IRBM’ missiles and is now used as an industrial site.I wouldn’t say the G.I’s had brought very much new business or enriched East Anglia due to their presence. The fact remains that they were only here for a relatively short period of time and when they left they took with them their planes, they money, their custom to local shops and their sports.The defining factor that there has been very little change, is that Norfolk and Suffolk has been and will continue to be one of the best places for farming in England, and that is all it is used for, evidence of this is that there are only 2 main towns which compared to Manchester, or Liverpool are very small indeed. The places are renowned for being an agricultural and rural, and no amount of visiting is going to change the amount of farming in these places.One thing that may have affected people in these areas up until around 1970, approximately, because of how widespread travel is, is the local peoples attitude to Black people. In this area of Britain, many people had never seen black people before, except for on the television. When Americans brought over black G.I’s the locals were surprised, but still as hospitable to them as any other G.I. This may have opened people’s eyes to different races, but this is still a very minor change that I have speculated.In conclusion to these facts I can say that as a country we owe a lot to the G.I’s of world war 2, not just for helping us, but for bringing over their lifestyle and for sharing it with the British, making britain a less monotonous place than it otherwise could have been. As a Community, though, we don’t have much to show for the G.I’s stay in our local area, apart from a few memorials and a Library in Norwich. The place has had more influence from surrounding counties or towns than it did from the G.I’s because these places did like the way the Americans behaved and liked their taste. It took a while for Norfolk and Suffolk to become accustomed to these changes, which is why as most of the country moved on in terms of fashion and lifestyle, this area, was still catching up.

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