My Family: The Yanks are Coming.
I was born in1944 the year before the war ended. As I grew up in the late nineteen forties and the early nineteen fifties, I became aware of enlisted men in uniform. Some of them sounded different when they spoke and were wearing different uniforms to my cousin Norman as they had much more colour and braid. We went one day to a nearby town called Warrington to visit my grandmother, it was there that I asked my mother who these soldiers were. ' The Yanks ' was her reply, thinking they were very smart I resolved to find out more. As time passed I realised they were the Americans and that they were based at USAF Base Burtonwood. Which was just outside Warrington.
The Yanks Are Coming.
A few years passed and one day when I was about 12 years old my elder sister came in and told my parents that her best friend Pat, was stepping out with a 'Yank' and he was in the airforce. 'What' said my father ' does her dad know ' yes came the reply. ' Not only that, his name is Gene ' Well the reader will realise that this was short for Eugene, we had never heard this name and took it for the woman's name Jean. ' That's a girls name ' I said. An airman called Jean, I could not believe it.
Well he was coming to visit Pat's family on the following Saturday lunch time and would bring a couple of buddys if that was ok. The word passed round the area that the ' The Yanks ' were coming, needless to say this event was causing much excitement in our local area. Saturday came and they arrived as planned. I should say that Pat's younger brother Bernard who was known as Ben, was my best friend, so I was privy to what took place on this visit and many more in the future. Time's were tough in the UK in the fifties with food rationed and shortages of other commodities. They climbed out of a huge car I seem to remember it was a Chevrolet, it was painted in dark blue with a flat finish, no shine on it anywhere. I thought it was fantastic, furthermore it had a series on letters and numbers painted on the front wings, I had never seen such a vehicle. Their arms were full of presents it seemed for everybody. They knew that food was a most valued commodity and they had plenty of it. Gene turned to me and Ben and tossed us each a large can. We could not believe it, the cans contained Popcorn, we had seen Popcorn only in American comics of the day and now we had our own. Life went on and after a while Pat announced that she was to marry Gene, everybody was so pleased for her, the sad part was that she would be moving to America.
Move Through A Few Years.
We fast forward now to more recent times. Ben has of course kept in touch with Pat and Gene and with his wife Pauline has paid many visits to America over the years. He went over to see them in 2009. I gave him a photograph from our family album of Pat and Gene on their wedding day. We hoped they would be pleased and surprised as we knew they had not seen it, they were indeed pleased and surprised and they sent a message of thanks with their good wishes.
The Last Fifteen Years.
USAF Base Burtonwood, has now been closed for many years, much of it has been built upon, some old Hangars are still there, now used mainly for industrial storage. You can still make out the runways and support roads. In the last fifteen years or so, a motorway has been built between Manchester and Liverpool, this cuts straight across the old airfield. Because it was a flat area the motorway services were built on the base. It is approximately halfway between both cities. You can sit and look out on the airfield, but can only imagine how it was in those fondly remembered days, when 'The Yanks' were there. There are several runways to be seen as well as the old Flight Control Tower. I walked many years ago over to the tower from one of the nearby roads. It was derelict, windows broken, doors open and looking forlorn. I felt I could feel and hear the voices of the men who came over to help us, when we stood alone. Though some deny it, we would not have won the war some years earlier without the help of, 'The Yanks'.
The yanks in the uk.
Here com the yanks.
© 2012 Graham Lee