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During the Second World War, the ‘friendly invasion’ of Britain by over a million American G.I.s caused a sensation amongst a generation of young women deprived of male company. With their exotic accents, smart uniforms and aura of Hollywood glamour, the G.I.s soon had the local girls queuing up for a date, and the British boys off fighting abroad turning green with envy.
But US soldiers offered something even more tantalising than a ready supply of chocolate, chewing gum and nylon stockings. Becoming a G.I. bride provided an escape route from Blitz-ravaged Britain, an opportunity for a whole new life in America – a country that was more affluent, more modern and less class-ridden than home.
Some 70,000 G.I. brides crossed the Atlantic at the end of the war to join the men who had captured their hearts – but the long voyage was just the beginning of a much bigger journey. Once there, the women would have to adapt to a foreign culture and a new way of life thousands of miles away from family and friends, with a man they hardly knew out of uniform. Some struggled with the isolation of life in rural America, or found their heroic soldier was less appealing once he returned to Civvy Street. But most persevered, determined to turn their wartime romance into a lifelong love affair, and prove to those back home that it really was possible to have a Hollywood ending.
We are currently seeking stories to include in the book. If you have memories of the GIs in Britain, and in particular of women who married them, contact us by email here.