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My Family: The Yanks are Coming.

Updated on December 21, 2016
On base open day.
On base open day. | Source

Personal Recollections.

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.

The Visit.

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'.

My Family: The Second World War.

Military Award Winners: The British Medic and the US Marine.





© 2012 Graham Lee

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    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 5 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I enjoyed reading this very much. I hope you write more in this vein. Voted up and interesting.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thank you UnnamedHarald. I appreciate your interest and vote. I will leave similar in the future.

      Best Wishes.

    • Keri Summers profile image

      Keri Summers 5 years ago from West of England

      I love these personal family stories of real history. I agree with UH. I'd like to read more.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thank you Keri for your interest. I shall contribute more on this theme shortly.

      Best Wishes.

    • Ciel Clark profile image

      Ciel Clark 5 years ago from USA

      The details you remembered really stood out for me.

      Looking forward to reading more of your writing.

      (My grandfather was one of those Yanks!--but spent his time mostly in Italy, Germany, and France)

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Ciel. Thank you for your kind comments. I'm sure your Grandfather would have had some good stories of his time in Europe.

      Best Wishes.

    • jandee profile image

      jandee 5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Wow! I am saving this read for tonight!!

      Memories abound! I was bridesmaid at my best friends wedding 'Chuck' what a cracker he was,another friend was called 'Lucky'and he was a piano-player.the day he told us all he was going home he cried and said 'this is my home'we were in a pub at the time where he played piano every week-end-he didn't want to leave -he was an orphan!

      memories from Manchester,U.K

    • jandee profile image

      jandee 5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Above ! I forget to say they were G.I.s at Warrington air base,20 miles or so from my home-town of Manchester,U.K.

      jandee

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      jandee. please see my reply to your first comment.

      Best Wishes.

      Graham.

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain

      What a delightful story wonderfully told you were born the same year as my husband I am two years younger but I can remember clearly the rationing that you mentioned.

      I love reading hubs like this it not only brings the past to life for the younger generations it rekindles old memories for those of us who have actually live in those times. Vote up and interesting

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thank you maggs. I am pleased that you enjoyed this hub. I value your opinion. Thank you for the up vote.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Graham, thank you for this glimpse into your history. I will be back to visit more often because I love stories like this about real people living their lives. I was born four years after you but you have so much more history to work with than I having lived in a war-torn nation. I find this fascinating and thoroughly enjoy your stories.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thank you Billy. I do appreciate your visits. There are more stories on the way.

      Graham.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      I love reading these stories of that time, my mum was a sergeant in the Waafs and was stationed at North Weald, then Biggin Hill airbase. She said she loved the Yanks, they always had loads of stuff like popcorn, chewing gum and Nylons! lol! If things had been different, I am sure I would have been half American, but it was not to be. My dad was in the Army and they met after the war.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Nell. Yes the yanks had it all didn't they, you never know what might have been, lol. Thanks for your visit.

      Graham.

    • V Gates profile image

      V Gates 5 years ago

      This makes the second of a couple of your vignettes into history which I have read ("My Family: The Second World War" was the other). They are truly gems in that they show the human side of world events in a very up-close and personal way. Thanks for posting.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello V Gates. Thank you for your visit and most welcome comments.

      Graham.

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Great story! Thanks for sharing!

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Angela. Thankyou for your visit, I do appreciate it. Glad you liked it.

      Graham.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What an interesting story and what makes it even more so is that is is drawn from memory from when you were a boy during some historic times. Nice that you are now in touch with Pat and Gene and I am sure they loved seeing that old wedding photo for the first time many years after the fact. Up and interesting votes and will share. Makes me think of that old song..."The Yanks are coming..."

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 4 years ago from The Shire

      I loved this, Albion. I could just see the big Chevrolet; your description of the 'Yanks' reminded me of my own uncles. They always had some present for us and were big men with big booming voices. You ought to write a book about these experiences!

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Peggy W.

      Yes it is nice that contact has been maintained over all the years. Thank you for your visit and valued comments.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi mollymeadows. Yes, I can still see the Chevrolet myself, always a warm feeling over thoughts of this period. Thank you for your valued visit and comments.

      Graham.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Graham, I grew up in the United States in about the same period. Yanks is kind of an interesting word. in the United States it refers primarily to people in the states of northeast United States, mostly of English descent, I think. I do recall being called a Yank by someone with a cockney accent when we were visiting Thunder Bay in Canada. I do get interested in the language differences between English speaking countries.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi dahoglund.

      Thank you for your visit and comments. I know that a southern states american would not be a 'yank'. Over here it is a friendly term of endearment for an american, and used in the nicest way.

      Graham.

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

      The Yanks - they were always larger than life. Brave men and true, and generous.

      Thank God they decided to join the fray when they did or the wars would have lasted longer with even more devastation.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi mizjo. You are correct. When Britain stood alone we would have fought to the death but we would not have won without 'the yanks' that is a fact.

      Thanks again for your visits.

      Graham.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      What a wonderful story of wartime and the Yanks ;I loved it Graham and vote up,across and share all around.

      Keep them coming and have a great day.

      Eddy.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thank you Eddy. Yes, the old stories are often the best. Memories make such a difference to our lives as we progress.

      Graham.

    • profile image

      Jean Valerie Kotzur nee Stoneman 4 years ago from Germany

      My father was involved in the first Normandy Beach Battle in 1940 when the small boats of Britain went to the rescue, but where thousands died. The American intervension in Normandy, in June 1944, turned the tide and the direction of the war. Without the Yanks and the Normandy Beach Landings perhaps there wouldn't be a Europe as we know it any longer. At least I'm grateful, I was born in June 1944. Great hub Graham.

      Jean

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Jean. Lovely to see your name. I totally agree without the 'yanks' we would not have won. some might not agree but it is true. I was born in August 1944. Thank you for your comments.

      Graham.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 22 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi Graham, I really enjoyed reading your story about the Yanks. Great hub.

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