They called it the 'friendly invasion'. Thousands of GIs heading to Norfolk and Suffolk to join the fight for freedom in the Second World War.

East Anglia was in a perfect position for aircraft heading off to bomb the Nazis, and these young airmen were about to discover just what us Brits were like.

As they left the States they were handed a 33-page guide book…ordered to read it and behave in the way it suggested.

Let’s have a look.

British Reserved – Not Unfriendly

The British are often more reserved in conduct than we are. On a small crowded island where 45 million live, each man learns to guard his privacy carefully – and is equally careful not to invade anothetr man’s privacy.

So, if Britons sit in trains or buses without striking up conversation with you, it doesn’t mean they are being haughty and unfriendly. Probably they are paying you more attention to you than you think.

But they don’t speak to you because they do not want to appear intrusive or rude.

Another difference. The British have phrases and colloquialisms of their own which may sound funny to you.

It isn’t a good idea, for instance, to say 'bloody' in mixed company in Britain – it is one of their worst swear words.

To say 'I look like a bum' is offensive to their ears, for to the British this means you look like your own backside.

Just a tip if you are trying to shine in polite society.

British money is in pounds, shillings and pence. The British are used to this system and they like it, and all your arguments that the American decimal system is better won’t convince them. They won’t be pleased to hear you call it 'funny money' either.

They sweat hard to get it (wages are much lower in Britain then in America) and they won’t think you are smart or funny for mocking it.

Eastern Daily Press:

The British are tough

Don’t be misled by the British tendency to be soft-spoken and polite. If they need to be they can be plenty tough.

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'.

Sixty-thousand British civilians – men, women and children – have died under the bombs, and yet morale of the British is unbreakable and high.

A nation doesn’t come through that if it doesn’t have plain, common guts. The British are tough, strong people and good allies.

You won’t be able to tell the British much about 'taking it'. They are not particularly interested in taking it anymore. They are far more interested in getting together in solid friendship with us, so that we can all start dishing it out to Hitler.

You will find right away that England is a small country, smaller than North Carolina or Iowa. The whole of Great Britain  is hardly bigger than Minnesota.

England’s largest river, the Thames (pronounced 'Tems') is not even as big as the Mississippi when it leaves Minnesota. No part of England is more than 100 miles from the sea.

On furlough you will probably go into the cities, where you will meet the Briton’s pride in age and tradition. You will find the British care little about size, not having the 'biggest' or many things as we do.

Eastern Daily Press:

Remember there’s a war on

Britain may look a little shop-worn and grimy to you. The British are anxious to have you know you are not seeing their country at its best. They are anxious for you to know that in normal times Britain looks much prettier, cleaner, neater.

There are fewer murders, robberies and murders in the whole of Great Britain in a year than in a single large American city.

The British don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee. You don’t know how to made a good cup of tea. It’s an even swap.

They will welcome you as friends and allies but remember, crossing the ocean doesn’t automatically make you a hero.

Eastern Daily Press:

Dos and don'ts

You are higher paid than the British 'Tommy'. Don’t rub it in. Play fair with him. Don’t show off, brag or bluster - 'swank' as the British say.

If someone looks in your direction and says: “He’s chucking his weight about,” you can be pretty sure you’re off base. That’s the time to pull your ears in.

Don’t make fun of British speech or accents. You sound as funny to them but they will be too polite to show it.

If you are invited to eat with a family, don’t eat too much. Otherwise you may eat up their weekly ration.

You will soon find yourself among a kind, quiet, hardworking people who have been living under a strain such as few people in the world have ever known.


Yes, the guide is entertaining but we must never forget…thousands of our allies never returned home.

We will remember them.