Sage Advice c. 1943

Livret A Short Guide to Great Britain  US Militaria  Collection
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Along the way the Army had given the men a slim booklet - A Short Guide To Great Britain, written, in part, by the English author of Lassie Come Home, Eric Knight. The guide says right off that if you're Irish-American, forget "old grievances," "There is no time today to fight old wars over again," It steps quickly through history --- "Our ideals of religious freedom were all brought from Britain when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock...and parts of our own Bill of Rights were borrowed from the great charters of British liberty." It gives some language pointers---"It isn't a good idea ... to say 'bloody' in mixed company in Britain--- it is one of their worst swear words." And it repeatedly cautions yanks about being rude:
  You're coming to Britain from a country where your home is still safe, food is still plentiful, and lights are still burning. So, it is doubly important for you to remember that the British soldiers and civilians have been living under a tremendous strain. It is always impolite to criticise your hosts. It is militarily stupid to insult your allies.  So, stop and think before you sound off about lukewarm beer, or cold boiled potatoes, or the way English cigarettes taste.

   Put away your comments about dreary English weather, dinky cars, worn-out trains, shabby dress, confusing currency, and bland food: The British don't know how to make a good cup of coffee. You don't know how to make a good cup of tea. It's an even swap. And "Keep out of arguments ... Never criticise the King or Queen."

   Above all, don't be a show-off:

   You are higher paid than the British 'Tommy'. Don't rub it in. Don't brag or bluster---'swank' as the British say.  If somebody 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 in your ears.

   The British will welcome you as friends and allies. But remember that crossing the ocean doesn't automatically make you a hero. There are housewives in aprons and youngsters in knee pants ... who have lived through more high explosives in air raids than many soldiers saw in first clashes in the last war.

   Remember there's a war on. Britain may look a little shop-worn and grimy to you. The British people are anxious for you to know that you are not seeing its country at its best. There's been a war on since 1939. The houses haven't been painted because the factories are not making paint---they're making planes. The famous English gardens and parks are either unkept because there are no men to take care of them, or they are being used to grow needed vegetables .... In normal times Britain looks much prettier, cleaner, neater.

I Will Tell No War Stories -
 What Our Fathers Left Unsaid about World War II.
pp 28-29
Howard Mansfiield

My own father had a similar book given to the English about the Americans. High on the list was "Never call an American soldier a "Yankee." You have better than a 50% chance of offending him and a considerable chance for getting into a fist-fight.

I moved from Hawaii to a new school in New Hampshire. The very first breakfast I attended advertised, on the menu board: chitlins.  "Chitlins!" I cried " "I think I just died and went to Alabama! You Yankee girls don't know how to make no chitlins!" Just then a 250 lb black cook came around the corner waving a major-sized frying pan in my direction. "Who you callin' a Yankee?" she demanded.