George Orwell on Anglo-American relations

GI Brides: Scrawled across the tent left by one of the United States soldiers who took part in the first Allied landings in Normandy, France on 6 June 1944, was the message "Sorry Jean, had to go, Johnny." Many couples did not have a chance to say goodbye because of the secrecy surrounding preparations for D-Day.

GI Brides: Scrawled across the tent left by one of the United States soldiers who took part in the first Allied landings in Normandy, France on 6 June 1944, was the message “Sorry Jean, had to go, Johnny.” Many couples did not have a chance to say goodbye because of the secrecy surrounding preparations for D-Day.

An American sergeant and his English girlfriend watch the bombers return, Chelveston, Northamptonshire.

An American sergeant and his English girlfriend watch the bombers return, Chelveston, Northamptonshire.

While the Allies presented a united front in public there were plenty of tensions at the top – tensions that finally emerged into the public eye with the publication of post war diaries and memoirs, often appearing only many years later. The more vexed question of general relations between the Allies most people sought to avoid examining too closely.

Although the British Press was subjected to a certain amount of censorship, it was chiefly concerned with matters that might directly assist the enemy. It is testament to the fact that freedom of speech was largely preserved during the war years that some people were able to discuss other sensitive issues more openly.

Author George Orwell was certainly not going to shy away from looking at subjects that others might regard as rather indelicate in the circumstances. This was part of his column in the left wing Tribune newspaper on 26th May:

I was talking the other day to a young American soldier, who told me — as quite a number of others have done — that anti-British feeling is completely general in the American army. He had only recently landed in this country, and as he came off the boat he asked the Military Policeman on the dock, ‘How’s England?’

‘The girls here walk out with niggers,’ answered the M.P. ‘They call them American Indians.’

That was the salient fact about England, from the M.P.’s point of view. At the same time my friend told me that anti-British feeling is not violent and there is no very clearly-defined cause of complaint. A good deal of it is probably a rationalization of the discomfort most people feel at being away from home.

But the whole subject of anti-British feeling in the United States badly needs investigation. Like antisemitism, it is given a whole series of contradictory explanations, and again like antisemitism, it is probably a psychological substitute for something else. What else is the question that needs investigating.

Meanwhile, there is one department of Anglo-American relations that seems to be going well. It was announced some months ago that no less than 20,000 English girls had already married American soldiers and sailors, and the number will have increased since.

Some of these girls are being educated for their life in a new country at the ‘Schools for Brides of U.S. Servicemen’ organized by the American Red Cross. Here they are taught practical details about American manners, customs and traditions — and also, perhaps, cured of the widespread illusion that every American owns a motor car and every American house contains a bathroom, a refrigerator and an electric washing-machine.

From George Orwell’s As I Please column in the Tribune newspaper.

 The wartime wedding of Carl Mazzola, twenty year old boatswain's mate, second class, USNR from Detroit, Michigan, United States, to Julie Pope from Fulham, London, at a church in Kensington, London

The wartime wedding of Carl Mazzola, twenty year old boatswain’s mate, second class, USNR from Detroit, Michigan, United States, to Julie Pope from Fulham, London, at a church in Kensington, London

Warrant Officer Antoni Markiewicz of No. 302 Polish Fighter Squadron and his bride Yvonne Munday inspecting what was left of their wedding presents after the wedding reception house was bombed while they were getting married at a church somewhere in Southern England.

Warrant Officer Antoni Markiewicz of No. 302 Polish Fighter Squadron and his bride Yvonne Munday inspecting what was left of their wedding presents after the wedding reception house was bombed while they were getting married at a church somewhere in Southern England.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pierre Lagacé May 27, 2014 at 12:48 am

Interesting information that I did not know about how the Americans viewed their host country.

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