This is a pamphlet that was issued by the British government during World War II in an attempt to better acquaint the British public with the large numbers of American soldiers who were arriving at military bases in Great Britain in order to do battle against the Axis powers. The enemy was constantly trying to exploit any differences that might exist between the Americans and the British in an attempt to weaken the ties between the two allies. It was hoped that this pamphlet would help the British public to better understand the background, beliefs and behavior of typical Americans so as to prevent any misunderstandings between ordinary British citizens and their American visitors.

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The American soldier, like the British, is a civilian in uniform, not a professional fighting man. The presence of large numbers of American troops in this country, therefore, presents an opportunity for the ordinary people of the two great English-speaking nations to get to know each other in the mass, an opportunity never presented by the tourist traffic of peacetime.

In order to know properly the American citizen, as represented in the U.S. Army, we must understand something of the background from which he comes and the differences between his outlook and way of life and ours. These differences are often small, but they are capable of causing misunderstandings, which must be avoided at all costs, since to foster misunderstanding between the two nations is one of the prime objects of Axis propaganda.

This pamphlet, which has been prepared especially for teachers to use as a basis for lessons in school, sets out to give the minimum background information on which such understanding needs to be based. The text is accompanied by eight pages of photographs, illustrating various activities of the U.S. Army as well as some of the aircraft and other equipment which it has introduced to this country. There is also a simple line map showing the six great regions of the U.S.A.

Prepared for
The Board of Education
by the
Ministry of Information
His Majesty's Stationery Office
First Published: 1943

1. The Two English-Speaking Nations

The U.S.A. and Britain, the two great English-speaking nations, have more in common than a language. The present war has seen a new unity growing between them; and this process must neither be broken off nor slowed down. The Atlantic Charter set a seal upon their joint aspirations as recognised by the heads of their respective governments. The sympathy and understanding thus evinced in the high sphere of statesmanship will not, however, be seen in practice until individual Britons and individual Americans get to know each other better. In the past, their ideas of each other have too often been little better than caricatures, drawn from the inadequate and misleading evidence of books, films, and stray flesh-and-blood visitors. These last -- the Americans we used to see in Britain and the Britons they used to see in America -- came nearly always from some very small, and therefore untypical, section of the population. Hence the point of these satirical lines by America's leading writer of comic verses, Mr. Ogden Nash:

'... every Englishman is convinced of one thing: That to be an Englishman is to belong to the most exclusive club there is.'

To-day we have the chance to show that we are not so 'exclusive'. The first purpose of this pamphlet is to enable teachers to give such information to their pupils as will make easier the meetings between them and members of the A.E.F. [American Expeditionary Forces].

The War Department in Washington issued in 1942, for the benefit of the A.E.F., a short guide whose stated object was 'to start getting you acquainted with the British, their country, and their ways.' This guide includes certain warnings to American soldiers not to be misled by surface differences into ignoring the basic similarities between themselves and the British. 'The most evident truth of all', in the words of this guide, 'is that in their major ways of life the British and American people are much alike. They speak the same language. They both believe in representative government, in freedom of worship, in freedom of speech. But each country has minor national characteristics which differ. It is by causing misunderstanding over these minor differences that Hitler hopes to make his propaganda effective. You defeat enemy propaganda not by denying that these differences exist, but by admitting them openly and then trying to understand them.' The truth here expressed applies equally to us in Britain. We must avoid all easy or romantic or prejudiced generalisations. We must neither think of Americans as an entirely different species from ourselves nor expect them to act in all things exactly as we do. A comprehensive comparative analysis of the U.S.A. and Britain is beyond the scope of this pamphlet; its purpose is to instance a few facts which will remove the A.E.F. from a show-case labelled merely 'Allies' or 'Soldiers' -- or, for that matter, merely 'Americans' -- and set them in a perspective where they will appear as human beings -- like us and unlike us, but more the former than the latter.

How the American looks at War

Neither the U.S.A. nor Britain is a militaristic nation; i.e. neither of them thinks of war as an end in itself. They both conceive of the Army as a police force rather than as an instrument of self-aggrandisement. For this reason, both nations in peacetime have been content with standing armies which were extremely small in proportion to the total population. For this reason their wartime armies are essentially armies of civilians, i.e. of men whose normal business is something other than soldiering. This is one great point in common between the average Tommy [British soldier] and the average Doughboy [U.S. soldier] and it does not make either of them an inferior fighter to the professional soldier as mass-produced by the totalitarian states. The great majority of American soldiers you will meet over here will have come from civilian jobs and hope to return to them. Most of them were not in the U.S. Army before the 'Draft'. This was the Selective Training and Service Act that became law on September 16th, 1940, 'an Act to provide for the common defence by increasing the armed forces of the United States and providing for its training.' Within a month, over sixteen million men, between 21 and 36 years of age, had registered for Selective Service. Most of the Doughboys you will meet will belong to those sixteen million and no doubt, when they were first drafted, they grumbled at this disruption of their lives. A man who was in a Louisiana training camp on December 7th, 1941, when the news broke of the disaster at Pearl Harbour, said that the most frequent comment made by the draftees was: 'Now we know why we're in the Army!'

The American soldiers in the last war distinguished themselves, particularly in the battle of the Argonne in 1918, as razor-keen fighters with a flair for the offensive. Their successors in to-day's A.E.F. are equally avid for action. This should not mislead us into thinking that all or most Americans are essentially 'tough guys'. The Doughboy fights to the death, not because he is a born killer -- or a born martyr -- but because he wants to speed up any war in which he is engaged so that he and his country can return to the ways of peace. For, in spite of the number of Hollywood films which have dealt with gangsters and other adventurous law-breakers, the average American is law-abiding, home-loving and peace-loving. An American officer in Northern Ireland said, 'We don't want to hang about on the outskirts of this war, we want to get into action.' Why? 'Because,' he went on, 'our way home lies through Berlin and Tokio.' War, that is, for an American is only a means to an end. But it is important to add that most Americans now, especially those who have been overseas for some time, realise that this end is a wider one than the restoration of their own peaceful existence in their own country. They see that 'Home', which to them is an ideal and a reality, is also an ideal and a reality in Great Britain, while in Occupied Europe it is still at least an ideal. We in our turn should try to understand what 'Home' means to an American.

A Contrast in Backgrounds

The first thing to be impressed upon the British man-in-the-street is the vastness and diversity of the American background. The U.S.A. is practically a continent, its area being over 3 million square miles, as against the 89,000 square miles of Great Britain. Both in size and in geographical variety it is a very different sort of entity from the United Kingdom. Again, unlike Great Britain, it has very few overseas possessions. These two major differences have inevitably produced a different world outlook in Britons and Americans. The point has been well put by an American, William Dwight Whitney, in his book 'Who Are The Americans?' where he explains that the Englishman 'thinks either as an islander or as a member of a great world-wide empire. He is either insular or imperial -- indeed, he is both. The American is neither. The American is a continental. His outlook is at once much larger and much smaller than that of the Briton.' This should indicate certain danger-points in any conversation between the average Briton and the average American. The American is liable to be bored by sentiment of the 'right little, tight little, island' type, while he is likely to be irritated, or worse, by unguarded talk about 'our Empire'. Most Americans have a rather naive conception of the British Empire which can be to some extent corrected even by the substitution of the word 'Commonwealth'.

Apart from this psychological differentiation caused by these differences in size and set-up, the ordinary American visitor to the United Kingdom is apt to kick against some of the more physical corollaries of the small size of these islands. In the U.S.A. you can get in a car -- a high-powered car at that -- and drive for a week or more in a comparatively straight line without running into the sea. In Britain not only is the sea-wall always threatening as a terminus, but much of the country must look to an American like a series of suburbs. There is a conspicuous lack of Wide Open Spaces and, built-up areas being always with you, the speed-limit for drivers is always with you too; and the narrowness of the country is matched by the narrowness of the streets. It is natural that many Americans, when they first arrive in Britain, should suffer from a kind of claustrophobia.

Qualitative differences are as disconcerting as quantitative. While there are a few places in the U.S.A. which have a climate somewhat like our own, the vast majority of Americans come from districts where the cold is much colder and the heat much hotter and the rain either rains or stays away. The American army guide comments that 'Most people get used to the British climate eventually.' This is a pretty way of saying that our average British weather strikes the average American (as average Americans point out in their first five minutes of conversation) as inexpressibly dreary. Britons who have not travelled should therefore make every allowance for this depressing effect of a climate to which they themselves have been habituated from the cradle. An American soldier in Northern Ireland said that it would be a nice enough country if they put a roof on it.


2. The Country They Come From

If America is not like Britain, what is it like? It is impossible to answer this question succinctly and comprehensively; people are ski-ing in New England while other people are sun-bathing in Florida. It will, however, help you to know very approximately the rough major geographical divisions. The part of the U.S.A. best known to British visitors is the region familiarly known as 'the East', but to generalise about America and Americans on the basis of an acquaintance with the East is as rash as to generalise about Britain and Britons on the basis of an acquaintance with the Home Counties. Suppose you go into an American Red Cross centre in London or Glasgow to-day. You may meet there eight American soldiers but you must not just lump them together as 'Americans' and it let go at that. Those eight men may come from backgrounds so different as New England, New York City, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, California, South Carolina and Texas. If they do, you will notice that while they mix easily and cheerily with one another -- or with you -- any one of them will turn with especial eagerness to greet any newcomer from his own or a neighbouring state and that newcomer will probably proceed to monopolise his attention. 'Hey Yankee! What state are you from?' is a greeting often heard in London shouted by one American soldier the length of a room to another who has just entered. In Britain we have our own regionalism but remember that in America regional feelings are intensified by mileage; an American state corresponds to Scotland or Ireland rather than to an English county.

New England and New York

Suppose however there is only one American soldier and he is talking to you, a home-grown home-bred Briton. When he has told you where he comes from, you will get along much better if the place-name means at least something more to you than a name. Take the eight possibilities mentioned above. Suppose he comes from New England. New England itself is a large and varied entity and produces types as different as the Boston Irish, the old 'Mayflower families', the small farmers depicted in the poems of Robert Frost and the University men of Yale and Harvard. You will have to find out more precisely the stranger's particular background and you must not let the name 'New England' deceive you. New England, with the exception of Virginia, has the longest history of any part of the United States; it is also the part most fully represented in literature. It was settled predominantly by people of Anglo-Saxon blood, its earlier architecture, although mainly in wood, is Georgian in style and reminiscent of England, and its climate, in spring at least, is less un-English than most parts of America. But these facts, far from making the average New Englander noticeably pro-British, have made him ultra-American and particularly suspicious of the country that in the reign of George III sent her redcoats to fight upon his soil. On the other hand, if you avoid politics, you should find a New Englander easy to talk to; his background has much in common with your own.

Now suppose you meet a soldier from New York City. English visitors to the U.S.A. are continually warned by her citizens not to think that New York is America. This enormous city is a thing in itself; it is cosmopolis. On the other hand, no other country in the world could have produced it. New Yorkers think of themselves as Americans par excellence. When you meet a New Yorker, remember that he inevitably thinks of New York as vastly superior to any other city in the world, but do not attempt to flatter him by concentrating on the show-points which you have seen in photographs and films. The Empire State Building and the Woolworth Building and Radio City are only a tiny part of the city and not the most important. New York does not consist only of skyscrapers -- nor are most of its citizens rolling in luxury. There are many square miles of very prosaic streets of three or four storey buildings where simple people live simply and work hard. There are huge numbers of Jews and Irish, but nearly every race is strongly represented here -- New York being the bridge-head for European immigrants. For this reason, New Yorkers tend to be more Europeanised than most other Americans and more interested in European affairs. This is reflected in the New York press, but you should remember that these newspapers are hardly read beyond two hundred miles from the city. During the early phases of this war, for example, a study of the 'New York Times' might have misled British readers into thinking that the U.S.A. was more ready for war than she really was.

The Middle Westerners

New York, like New England, falls within the general category of 'the East'. When you move beyond the approximate frontiers of 'the East', the surface similarities to the United Kingdom disappear and Americans become, not necessarily more 'American' than the Easterners, but less easily assimilable to Englishmen or Scotsmen. This does not, however, mean that, from a British angle, they become less approachable. Where the Easterner may feel that he does the same things as ourselves but does them better, the Middle Westerner, just because his context is so different from ours, may approach Great Britain with a more open mind and a deeper curiosity. Among American soldiers over here, the Middle Westerners, as compared at any rate with the New Yorkers, are less critical of our cities and our comparative lack of certain material comforts (e.g. central heating, electrical gadgets, luxury plumbing). But those from the agricultural districts of the Middle West tend to be somewhat critical of our farming. It is important to be able to explain to them that our peculiarities in farming are conditioned by our peculiarities of soil, climate and landscape; we in our turn should be careful not to impute any arrogance to them when they describe how much larger their fields and barns are out in the Middle West and how much more use is made there of tractors and of mechanized methods in general. Britons should try to envisage how very, very different is a farm in Indiana from a farm in East Anglia or the Cotswolds.

Your Middle Westerner, however, may not be a farmer; he may very well be an industrial worker, for the Middle West is the centre of America's heavy industries. If this is so, you may expect him to assume that it is the centre of the world's heavy industries, just as a Clydeside worker might assume that all the best ships are built in Glasgow. Before answering him back with our own Midlands you will do well to consider how much of truth there is in his claim. There is a good deal and it conditions the general outlook not only of the Middle West but of the whole country. Just one example: in peacetime 75 per cent of all motor-cars in the world were found in the United States. There was one car roughly for every four people in the population whereas in Great Britain there was one for every twenty. Before the war both the U.S.A. and Great Britain had, among the nations, a very high standard of living but, whereas Britain had to import most of her raw materials, the U.S.A. had most of them (with the important exception of rubber) ready to hand in her own territory. Her iron ore and main heavy industries being located (to use the American phrase) in the Middle West, Middle Westerners have naturally come to look upon that region as the economic background of the country. You should recognise this as a valid reason for pride.

Beyond the Mississippi

The Middle West can roughly be said to end with the Mississippi. When you cross this great and glamorous river, you come into a more sparsely populated world, the ballad of whose life runs to the refrain of 'Wheat, Wheat and More Wheat'. But the spirit of the Prairie States, as this region is called, cannot be assessed in terms of wheat -- or maize -- alone. There is a very important psychological factor which applies not only to this region but to the whole of the country from the Mississippi westwards. Americans frequently point out that we don't realise how, in their country, they still have the pioneer in them very close under the skin. It is not long since the bulk of the U.S.A. was settled by pioneers. This gives their descendants a different attitude to the land from that of an English villager whose family may have kept their geese on the same green for centuries.

As you move further west, the pioneer tradition becomes more obvious and the memory of the covered wagons (a favourite theme of the cinema) is still a live and inspiring one. The scenery also, once the flat plains are behind you, tends to grow more spectacular; remember that in our islands we have nothing at all comparable with the Rockies. A member of the A.E.F. who has come from Nevada or Colorado must find the British landscape very tame. He must also find our country terribly crowded; in Nevada there is less than one inhabitant to the square mile.

California, on the Pacific, is a special case. When the average Briton thinks of California he thinks at once of Hollywood. Do remember that the movie industry is not the chief concern of Californians any more than the West End theatre is the chief concern of Londoners. Hollywood has not grown up out of California and the life of the ex-pioneers and fruit-farmers; it has been appliqued on to them. What most Californians are chiefly proud of is their beautiful climate; they are therefore particularly critical of our British mixture of mist and drizzle. On the other hand a Californian technician in Northern Ireland said that he found himself more at home there than most Americans because he did not object to the leisurely tempo of Ulster life! 'In California', he said, 'we don't hustle.' This was an individual opinion and is probably more true of 'the South', but it is worth remembering that the idea of hustle as a general characteristic of Americans is one that has been exaggerated in this country. All over the United States you meet many people who are not the victims of the clock.

Special Character of the South

'The South' is a part of America that, rather like the Highlands of Scotland, has in the eyes of outsiders been somewhat befogged by historical glamour and picturesque local colour. A little hard history should adjust this. It is high time that the British public knew more about the causes of the American Civil War and realised that, on a long-term view, King Cotton was a more important figure than Stonewall Jackson. Nor should it be kept dark, from any Briton who is likely to meet Americans from the South, that the South to-day is the poorest part of the country and includes two classes of citizens -- 'poor whites' and Negroes -- both of whom present problems that are still unsolved.

The American Negroes require a special comment. There are many Negro soldiers now in this country, and those Britons who have met them have been very favourably impressed by their pleasant manners and their readiness to be pleased. These Negro troops are not, on principle, separately brigaded, the U.S. War Department having rightly declined to differentiate them from other American citizens. It must be remembered, however, that while the Negroes form a very large section (one in twelve) of the American nation, they are in the unique position of being descended from slaves; this memory of slavery, being still fresh, retains a psychological hold both on the Negroes themselves and on many of their white fellow-citizens (especially those in the old slave States, i.e. 'the South'); from this they will only gradually break free. Any American Negro who comes to Britain must be treated by us on a basis of absolute equality. And remember never to call a Negro a 'nigger'.

As regards to the South in general, we should acquaint ourselves with the historical and economic facts which explain the persistence of the Colour Question, and of other problems still unsolved in the South. In talking to a Southern visitor you will not, of course, launch out -- at least without invitation -- into a discussion of these problems. You and he will have plenty of other grounds of conversation, for the South, like New England, is comparable with old England in that it sets much store by tradition. Remember, however, that while New England was settled by Puritans, Virginia was settled by Cavaliers, and that this original fact, enhanced by the difference of climate and a different regime of living, has led to a difference in temperament roughly corresponding to that between the Northern and the Southern Irish.

Of the eight hypothetical Americans postulated above, the eighth was a Texan. Here, as in many other cases not mentioned, beware of going all romantic. British cinema-goers tend to think of Texas as a land of cowboys. So it is, though they are not all like Tom Mix. But remember that Texas also is the leader of the world's petroleum industry. And remember, what Texans remember, that it is the largest state in the U.S. -- three times the size of England and Scotland combined.


3. American Ways Are Different

The above comments on regional characteristics are of the sketchiest nature. It is very important to-day that British teachers and educationists should give courses in American geography. But any geographical classification should be qualified by a classification based upon race or rather upon the sources of the present American population. Remember that only a few centuries ago there were no white men in America. The whole white population is made up of immigrants or descendants of immigrants. At first these were mainly of Anglo-Saxon blood; later there were large numbers of Irish and, later still, large numbers from Central and Southern Europe. Open the New York telephone directory at random, or study the names in American baseball or football teams, and you will come across many names that you would call foreign and a fair number that you cannot pronounce. A recent booklet by David Cushman Coyle instances such a team in the 'Yankees' who beat the 'Red Sox' on April 24th, 1941: 'Rizzuto, Rolfe, Henrich, Rosar, Selkirk, Di Maggio, Keller, Gordon, Dickey, Priddy, Russo.' There are two points to notice in such a list: first, the diversity of the names, but second, and more important, the fact that the owners of these names have come together into a team. This is true of the American nation as a whole. The U.S.A., for instance, contains sixteen million persons of Germanic origin, but you would find that the vast majority of these consider themselves one hundred per cent American, and are a hundred per cent behind their government now that it is conducting a war against Germany.

When the U.S.A. is spoken of as a 'melting-pot', the important thing to remember is that the very diverse ingredients poured into this melting-pot have emerged as a new unity. An American called Zhelinsky is probably just as American as one called Brown, and an American called Brown is a good deal less English than an Englishmen called Jones. Brown and Zhelinsky, when they visit Great Britain, will most probably agree with each other in most of their reactions to this country; whether they are being admiring or critical, both of them will feel consciously 'abroad'. For neither Zhelinsky nor Brown has ever seen a judge in a wig and both of them have behind them the standardised world of American housing, American transport, American currency, American amusements, American eats, American drinks, American policemen, American weather, and not the least important, the American language. For, though they both speak English, their accent and many of their phrases are obviously different from our own. As this is one of the national differences which most often causes inconvenience, and sometimes exasperation, it is worth a little further comment.

Accent and Vocabulary

Some Americans consider our English accent and speech affected when it is 'standard' and repulsive when it is 'dialect'. There are also Britons who resent all American accents and American phraseology on the grounds that they are a sign of vulgarity, pretentiousness, etc.; some people in these islands even believe that Americans 'put on' their accents in order to emulate the movies. Most people in both countries are more sensible and recognise that 'standard English' is not a necessary sign of snobbery and that, when an American uses a word like 'guy', he is not even conscious that he is using slang. It would be helpful, however, if Britons to-day would acquaint themselves with some of the more common differences between American and British phraseology, especially such differences as may lead to a practical misunderstanding; e.g. when an American speaks of the 'hood' of a car he means what we call the 'bonnet'; when he says 'vest' he means 'waistcoat', and when he says 'undershirt' he means 'vest'; when he says 'crackers' he means 'biscuits' and when he says 'biscuits' he means 'scones'. It is impossible here to provide even the necessary minimum of an Anglo-American glossary, but here are a few examples which may stimulate interest in what, far from being a source of irritation, should be a source of instruction and amusement:

American English













trunk (auto)




street car








Apart from such standard differences, Americans of course use a wealth of slang. Some of this is now familiar to British cinema-goers and may even have been adopted by them for their own use, but much of it is likely to strike you as alien and perhaps unintelligible. You must remember that American slang is always changing and is richer and more colourful than our own; this is partly because the U.S.A., being still a comparatively young country, retains an experimental and effervescent habit of speech which we have not had since the days of Elizabeth I, and partly because her diverse racial ingredients, including the American Negroes, have all contributed something to the national language as well as to the national character. Some people in Britain may feel that American slang is too flamboyant. Remember that your visitors may find British slang flat, hackneyed, monotonous and colourless.

Cents and Dollars

One thing that perplexes the men of the A.E.F. more than our oddities of speech is the oddity of our currency. Their currency is much simpler and more rational than our own, being based entirely on the decimal system. To an American visitor, all this business of pounds and half crowns and florins and shillings and sixpenny bits must seem too stupid by half. And our coins must feel very heavy in his pocket -- far too heavy for their purchasing value. Any Englishman, returning from America, finds the English penny cumbrous. The Americans, too, have a coin which they call a penny. This is their one-cent piece and is about the size of a farthing. One hundred cents make up a dollar (equivalent to about five shillings) and this is their highest unit; the five dollar bill corresponds to our one pound note. Three common American coins which you ought to know about are the 'nickel' (a five-cent piece), the 'dime' (a ten-cent piece) and the 'quarter' (a quarter-dollar). Nickels and dimes are much used in slot-machines in the U.S.A. -- and they have many more slot-machines than we have (particularly common is the 'nickelodeon' which you find in roadside eating houses; when you put a nickel in this, it plays a gramophone record). A 'quarter' is the usual tip to a railway porter (who in America is called a red-cap). A dollar is popularly known as a 'buck'.

The American at Play

Another sphere which may give rise to mutual bewilderment, but which should also provide plenty of mutual interest, is that of sport. Both Americans and Britons, as a people, are great sports fans; the difficulty is that some of their favourite sports are all but unknown to us and vice versa. We know of the Americans' exploits at the Olympic Games and in the Davis Cup and in golf and boxing, but very few of us understand the rules of baseball or American football, just as very few Americans understand cricket or rugger or soccer. Since the arrival of the A.E.F. in Britain, English papers have taken to printing the results of American football matches (or, as they are called there, 'games'). These results are studied by exiled Doughboys with equal enthusiasm and nostalgia. If you know a little about their two great spectator games, you will find a quick way to their hearts. You will also understand why they may find our three great English games in some respects disappointing.

The first thing to be noticed in America, when watching either football or baseball, is the far greater part played in the whole proceedings by the spectators. Far from being 'bad form', it is the expected thing that the crowd should declare its feelings and critical judgments with as much verve -- and ruthlessness -- as possible; in college games this crowd-participation is organised, each side having its cheer-leaders. The second thing to be noticed, in the case of football, is the use of substitutes. There is always a line of possible substitutes sitting on the side of the field and these can be called upon at any stage of the game, whether any of the original players is injured or not; sometimes an American team keeps one of its best players out till the last quarter of an hour, when he can come in fresh to do his particular stunt. From our point of view this may seem 'unsporting'; from their point of view it is mere common sense, since they think of football in terms of tactics and skill more than, as we so in the case of rugger at any rate, in terms of sweat and endurance.

The second thing to be noticed (about baseball) is its far quicker tempo as compared with cricket. A side goes out when three of its batters (batsmen) are out, a game never lasts more than an afternoon, and the usual number of innings is nine per side. The third thing to be noticed (about American football) is the deft way the ball is handled, especially in the forward pass (a maneuver which in advance must be anathema to any connoisseur of rugger). The third thing to be noticed in baseball is the equally deft way in which the ball is thrown about among the fielders (fieldmen); in throwing and catching, there is no comparison between an average American baseball team and an average English cricket team. It is impossible here to give a lucid summary of these two great American games; you must ask the Americans themselves to explain them to you, but be careful not to interject 'But that's all wrong' or 'That's silly.' As far as baseball goes, you may have a chance of seeing it played in Britain, as American troops tend to set up a 'diamond' (baseball field) whenever they move into camp. You will get a good mark if you have heard of Babe Ruth (the W. G. Grace of baseball); in 1920 a man died of excitement when he saw Babe Ruth hit a ball out of the grounds.

Apart from organised sports, a favourite -- or perhaps the favourite -- American recreation is dancing or listening to dance music. Though this is also largely true of our own country, the United States, as the parent of 'jazz' and 'swing' and 'crooning', has carried them much further than we have, so that Americans tend to regard some of our imitations as amateurish or 'corny' (old-fashioned) or merely dull. Jazz, in its early days, was largely developed by Negro musicians and many of the best American dance bands still consist of coloured players. Remember that we cannot compete with this and remember also that some of the Doughboys over here tend to be disappointed by the dancing standards of their partners. As with football so with dancing; they regard it from the angle of technique. You may offend them if you regard it as something which one makes a dab at when one wants a bit of exercise. An American soldier said, 'This is sure one jazz-mad army.' You must not infer that this means their army is frivolous. In the U.S.A. the 'Blues' -- and not without justification -- is treated as an art form. In play, as well as in work, the average American aims at a very high technical proficiency.

The Food He is Used To

Whether, when you meet with Doughboys, sport and recreation come into the conversation or not, one subject sure to arise is that of food. Here you have no right to be arrogant. Naturally, at this moment, English meals are not what they were in peacetime, but we should admit that, even in peacetime, English meals, on the average, were not particularly good. The average standard of cooking and eating in America was higher than ours and it is a mistake to assume that all Americans live solely off tinned foods; what most of them do make use of (as is only proper in their climate) is the refrigerator or ice-box. There are strong regional differences in American menus -- a soldier from Baltimore will hanker for 'Maryland chicken' and one from New Orleans may be used to a French cuisine -- but Americans on the whole, in contrast to Britons, are accustomed to fruit juice for breakfast, good coffee when they want it, more meat and fish and shellfish and a greater variety of vegetables, including corn on the cob; when they want a square meal in a strange town they can always go to a drug store (chemist's shop) and eat three courses at the counter. Many American dishes are a blend of sweet and savoury; some Britons regard this with horror, but watch an American's reaction to what we do with cabbage or offer in the way of 'sweets'. But the A.E.F. are aware of our present difficulties. When asked to a British house they will not expect any special treatment. Many of them have even willed themselves into enjoying tea.


4. The American at War

We have so far been mainly considering the general background of the American soldier as an individual and ex-civilian. Let us now consider him as a soldier and therefore as an official representative of his country. In 1941, when the U.S. entered the war, she was far more prepared than she was in 1917. In the last year, her war effort has been stepped up to an unprecedented intensity and her army continues to grow vaster and vaster and is perhaps the best equipped in the world (the Garand rifle, for instance, is probably the best of its kind). The whole country is being turned over, like a factory plant, to the war effort. Colleges and universities, for instance, have loaned their laboratories and classrooms to the Army and Navy. And the Americans have some advantages which we lack in training for a 'global war'. While the U.S. Mountain and Winter Regiments can train on skis under Arctic conditions, a desert tract in Southern California of 16,000 square miles has been commandeered for their tank forces to give them a foretaste of Africa.

Every member of the A.E.F. over here, on entering the U.S. Army, took the oath of allegiance which, in the case of a volunteer, would run as follows:

'I, John Brown (or Zhelinsky), a citizen of the United States, do hereby acknowledge to have voluntarily enlisted, this 8th day of December 1941, as a soldier in the army of the United States of America for the duration of the war...etc....And I do hereby solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies whomsoever, and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the rule and articles of war.'

In October 1942, the largest recruiting centre and induction centre in the U.S.A. was opened in Manhattan, in the Grand Central Palace. The above oath is being read there daily by an American officer to American recruits, while the Stars and Stripes waves in a breeze made by an electric fan. The recruits raise their hands and they take the oath, and the flag above them, seriously. A few words are needed on this flag.

The Stars and Stripes

While most Britons respect and on certain occasions are moved by the Union Jack, it does not possess in their lives the same significance as the Stars and Stripes does in America. This is because, in our country, the King and Royal Family satisfy most of that necessary desire for patriotic symbolism which in the United States is focussed upon their flag. The Stars and Stripes first appeared as an official flag in 1777; it then consisted of seven red and six white horizontal stripes with thirteen white stars forming a circle against a blue background. These Stars represented the thirteen States (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) which combined to resist the British in the American Revolution. To-day the flag retains the same number of stripes but there are forty-eight stars, one for each of the States; its traditional name is 'Old Glory'.

Coupled with the national flag is the National Anthem, 'The Star-spangled Banner', which became the official anthem in 1931. Previously it had shared the honours with 'Hail Columbia' and 'My Country, Tis of Thee'. The latter is sung to the tune of 'God Save the King', and is to-day often used on patriotic and devotional occasions. Either, when heard, is to be treated as we would treat 'God Save the King'. This should remind us that the Americans have their own national holidays celebrating events in their own history. The three most important of these are Thanksgiving Day, which goes back to the Pilgrim Fathers, in late November, Washington's Birthday (February 22nd), and Independence Day on July 4th, which celebrates the secession of the American colonies from Great Britain.

When You Meet a Doughboy

The American soldier, while perhaps more responsive to the symbols just mentioned than our Tommy is to his corresponding ones, is however, on the whole an informal person. Some British eyewitnesses, indeed, are sometimes shocked by his informality. What you must remember is that, in action, the U.S. Army is noted for its stern discipline. And remember that this Army has a victorious history. This has been unduly ignored in our schools, possibly because many of its victories have been won at our own expense. It is high time that our school children were told that the Americans licked us at Saratoga in 1777 and at New Orleans in 1815.

It is necessary to our co-operation, in this war and after it, that the British and American armies should become far better informed about each other's virtues and achievements. A little preliminary instruction should preclude any more of the futile arguments as to who won the last war and which country has the tougher army. Both the British and American armies are exceedingly tough and both of them are required to win the particular war in which both at present are engaged. When you meet a Doughboy do not be misled, by his easy line of talk, his wisecracks, his love of jazz or -- often -- his schoolboyish smile, into thinking that he has any illusions about what he is here for. He regards your island as a halfway house to the Front and he knows what that front will be like.

The accompanying photographs show some of the equipment the Americans have brought with them to this country, such as types of American war planes; remember that the U.S. Army includes the Air Force. But the best illustrations to this pamphlet you will meet, large as life, walking in your own towns and villages. The following two recent institutions are significant.

The first is the U.S. Rangers, a body of 'task troops' (shock troops) created in 1942 on the model of the British Commandos. The Commando type of fighting is one to which the Americans, with their long tradition of scout-craft dating from their Indian wars, are peculiarly well adapted; the Rangers take their name from Rogers' Rangers, a frontier militia raised in the eighteenth century by an American soldier, Robert Rogers. Members of the present Rangers first saw action in Europe in the raid on Dieppe on 19th August, 1942. They have worked and are working in closer collaboration with British troops than probably any other body of Americans. You will never hear a Ranger running down a Commando or vice versa.

The second institution is the Jeep, the little maid-of-all-work army automobile in whose creation the Americans have shown the same blend of efficiency and imagination that devised the early mass-produced Ford. We have borrowed the Jeep from them for use in places like Burma, but it remains the mascot of the U.S. Army. The interesting thing is that many Doughboys look forward to using the Jeep in peacetime -- whether for business or pleasure. A remark often heard is on this pattern: 'When this war is over I'm going to go back home and I'm going to marry my girl and I'm going to get me a Jeep and I'm going to drive all round the United States of America...' They conceive of the Jeep, therefore, not only as a means of winning the war but as a means of improving the peace, of getting to know their own country. Many Americans, especially among those over here, have gone further than this. They think of the war itself as giving them a chance to know other countries and peoples, especially our own. It is of the utmost importance that we should return the compliment. It is much more than a compliment: it is a duty.


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