Down my ‘Memory Lane’. Part 2 continued.
Posted by Big John on August 19, 2008
… and out stepped … a GI .. a ‘Yank’ ! … Except that this was no American. It was my Uncle Alfie.
Now what was one of my mother’s younger brothers doing in an American uniform and driving a US Army Air Force staff car ?
Well it would seem that when the American forces at last turned up in this country to help us win the war, they were a bit confused by our habit of driving on the left and by the fact that most road signs had been removed to confuse the Germans if they ever invaded. They also needed to be shown where the best pubs were and the shortest route to Piccadilly Circus: so a number of experienced British Army drivers were recruited to chauffeur them around, and were somehow ‘transferred’ to the US Army.
At the time I believe that my uncle was serving as a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps, or R.A.S.C., sometimes known as ‘Run Away Someone’s Coming’, so it must have been quite a shock to suddenly be transported from the life of a poorly paid British ‘squaddie’ to the ‘glamourous’ world of those who were … “Overpaid, Oversexed and Over Here”.
As you can see from his photograph, my uncle was a very good looking bloke, so you can imagine the ladies’ reaction when he appeared in that uniform. I was too young to know it at the time, but his life followed a similar path to his namesake in the movie of that name. Blimey ! He even became a professional chauffeur later in life.
I don’t remember too much about my Uncle Alf’s visit to my grandmother except that I was introduced to American ‘candy’ such as Hershey Bars and Chiclets. Something truly wonderful to a child at that time when sweets were strictly rationed.
I can’t recall if my mum got any nylons, but I do remember seeing cartons of cigarettes together with cans of strange things like tomato juice, peaches and peanut butter, and I do remember getting to ride in that car.
My uncle had landed the plum job of driver to a top American general, and so I got to sit where the general sat as we drove around the neighbourhood. As I was only a lttle lad I could hardly see out of the windows, so I wonder …
… if anyone saluted me ?