Rich Relations: the American Occupation of Britain 1942.1945, by David Reynolds (Harpercollins, £9.99 in UK)


In 1943 George Orwell, with typical upside down snobbery, complained in Tribune magazine: "It is difficult to go anywhere in London without having the feeling that Britain is now Occupied Territory. The general consensus of opinion seems to be that the only American soldiers with decent manners are the Negroes." The GIs were a novel experience to rationed, blacked out, wartime; Britain, and they were better" paid than English soldiers, which helped to augment their considerable success with the local girls. They poured by thousands into the UK, including Belfast, where some of them expressed surprise that Ireland was not the land of famine they had been led to expect.

D-Day was the climax of this period of Allied solidarity, and as the Americans gradually established their military primacy in Europe, Churchill's hopes waned of getting an English general Alexander or Montgomery - into the supreme command. In the end, Britain's brief blitz of Americanisation passed quickly, and today only memories of it survive.