Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain, 1942


30 Responses to “Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain, 1942”

  1. Nash Rambler says:

    “The English language didn’t spread across the oceans and over the mountains and jungles and swamps of the world because these people were panty-waists.”  I can almost see some John Cleese-esque lieutenant screaming at the troops in some god-forsaken African fort in the mid-19th century.  “Right you lot!  These heathen savages need t’ know how to conjugate a verb, an’ the fastest way for them to learn is by shooting them!  Now prepare to stand and defend literacy with every drop of blood in your body!”

  2. jbond says:

    I didn’t get where I am today by being a panty-waist.

  3. tw1515tw says:

    There’s a film for GIs about living in the UK too. In it, a British woman invites both a white and black GI round together for dinner. The American commentator (Edit – it was Burgess Meredith) advises the white GIs not to be shocked by this, and implies the British don’t know any better.

    Edit – It was called “A Welcome to Britain”

  4. Bonobo says:

    This is also available for free on Audible as an audio book.

  5. wreckrob8 says:

    What better reason to bring back pounds, shillings and pence. People forget the advantages for division of a base twelve and base twenty system. Why would we want a decimal sytem just ‘cos everybody else has one?

  6. Thad says:

    “A British woman officer or non-commissioned officer can and often does give orders to a man private. The men obey smartly and know it is no shame. For British women have proven themselves in this war. They have died at the gun posts … When you see a girl in khaki or air-force blue with a bit of ribbon on her tunic–remember she didn’t get it for knitting more socks than anyone else in Ipswich.”

    Wow. Just …wow.

    What a shame us Brits forgot all that after the war.

  7. traalfaz says:

    It’s funny to learn that Americans tried to convince the British that a decimal system was better than an arbitrary unit system back in the 40s.  A shame they didn’t take their own advice back then where it comes to the metric system. It’s one of the most irritating things about having grown up in the US that despite my wishes, my brain does and probably always will think in terms of inches and ounces and a shoe-sizing system based on the lengths of barley corns (really).

    • Zach S says:

      So what? The other shoe sizing systems are just as inscrutable – and a rational one based on, say, the length of the foot in cm, would not actually work any better. 

    • Brad Bell says:

      Canadians strode ahead in the switch to metric, and then stopped half way! As a result generations have grown up without any common understanding of weights and measures. Don’t know what an inch is. Don’t know what a centimetre is. England is not much different. We buy our petrol in litres and drive in miles. 

  8. taras says:

    Here’s some films.


    1964 – “YOU IN GREAT BRITAIN” (“And yet they live – and always have – on an island barely the size of Minnesota”)

    …and these were still being made up to the end of the Cold War (at least):

  9. And now I really need to know what the girl who knitted more socks than anyone else in Ipswitch actually did get for her efforts.

  10. GawainLavers says:

    Picked up a copy of the manual they printed for troops on the ground in France at Shakespeare & Co.  Equal number of gems: whoever wrote that was writing for their audience, and not some general or political hack.

  11. bobcorrigan says:

    I’m reminded of the old joke: God invented war to teach Americans geography.  A joke that’s no longer quite as funny as it used to be, now that I wish I could forget where Afghanistan is.

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