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Why don’t you like Americans?

I suppose it was inevitable that someone would ask this question – even if it was anonymously.

To set the record straight, I do not dislike Americans – I dislike what they do.

Many older Brits have an almost tribal memory of the transgressions American troops committed against their country after they came across to sell their help in WWII. The “over sexed, over paid and over here” description of the American troops became popular as soon as they started to buy the honour of British girls. In a time of deep rationing, it took American troops very little time to realise that they could treat a young British mother as a prostitute – the price being a piece of cheese, bacon or chocolate for her child(ren).

While many hard working men who were not able to go to war were earning the equivalent of $2 a week and their wives were having to cope with ration coupons for essentials, American troops had their own massive and seemingly endless supplies with which to taunt and tempt. This created the initial ill will between a war torn country and these troops who had finally been forced to take  a side.

What really set the seal on the relationship and made it uncomfortable on the “home” front, was the attitude that everything was “up for grabs”. There seemed to be no honour among the troops and no respect for the British. Although my own home town did not suffer massive bombing, home owners who were bombed out soon learned that it was not safe to let Americans join any rescue missions. Anything of value in a bombed building would disappear – especially if it was pocketable. I am told that in many cities the rescue services respectfully declined the help of Americans because they would disappear as soon as they had enough loot and leave the rescue services depleted.

I had always treated some of these stories with a measure of scepticism but having watched the TV series “Band of Brothers”, I have to accept that the stories I heard were true.

The reputation earned by the American troops was cast in stone as soon as Hollywood began their huge propaganda sweep and showed how America won the war almost single handedly. The fact that hundreds of thousands of allied troops and probably as many civilians had been fighting for more than three years was simply swept under the carpet of lies. The resistance movements in Europe were ignored or made to look like circus acts so that the American soldier could step in and resue the day. Only recently have some more honest representations of events been made.

The crowning glory of the American reputation was the way that they stormed into the peace process and added to the crippling defence costs of the British people. The British had to see their own bombed cities and destroyed factories given second place in the queue for reparation. The British actually had to pay to repair Germany before they could repair their own wounds so that America could “rescue” the inventors of the V1, V2 and V3 rockets and spirit them across the Atlantic to develop even more weapons of mass destruction.

I was born in a relatively small town in 1946 (Grimsby) and, as I said, it did not get heavily bombed. Because of the crippling costs of American help and German reparations, I was still playing in bombed houses eleven years after the end of the war – at the same time as most German cities were once again functioning and wealthy.

I do not dislike Americans but I deeply distrust them and resent that 66 years after the end of the war, my country, the sole point of resistance at the time America chose a side, has only recently finished paying for the “help” America sold us.

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