World War II – The Americans in Sudbury 1944/45

Roley Andrews again (letter written in February 1995).

“ Every evening the ‘Liberty Truck’ left the Mess Site on its two mile trip into Sudbury. Here men could visit the picture houses, but often the films being shown were those the men has already seen back in the States. However, most of the men found their way to the public houses. In Sudbury there were plenty to choose from. The most popular of these ‘Pubs’ were, The Black Horse, The White Horse, Horse and Groom, Hare and Hounds, Half Moon, and Red Cow. There were others that come to mind such as ‘The Prince of Wales’. This was close to Victoria Hall which was the main dance hall in town. At these dances the men could meet the local girls and sometimes middle-aged spinsters. Mostly the Brits and Yanks got on well with each other but occasionally there were fights which would soon be put to an end by the arrival of the MP’s.

The winter brought with it the early darkness of the nights and the black-outs. While walking up North Street (Sudbury’s main street) and passing the dark shop doorway, you’d see the soldiers and the girls pressed close together. If you’d shine your light on them they’d laugh or whisper, or even break up and run off. ….. Sometimes you’d see a young English girl who would be meeting her American soldier, and in the background the girl’s mother, wearing a worried look. You see, the sleepy old town of Sudbury had never seen anything like what was happening during the war years. Soldiers everywhere, the blackout, and the many derogatory stories that were passed around. Of course the mothers were worried about their daughters. Soon the evenings would pass and after midnight the streets were empty except for the odd drunk who might still be about, and the odd jeep with the MP’s passing by as they patrolled the town.

As Sudbury slept, the men up at the air base were getting ready to go to war again. Men who only hours before were laughing and singing in the Pubs, or were smooching in the darkened doorways, or who would otherwise have been saying goodnight to their English sweetheart, were now making preparations for more war. The soldiers had made their way back to base not knowing what tomorrow would hold for them. Their girls, reaching their homes, couldn’t sleep, for all their thoughts were of the boys they had just kissed goodnight. When at last sleep did come, there was soon an awakening to the sound of bombers revving up, of the bombers taking-off once again, to make war on the enemy. And to think, this was happening at many bases over a large part of England on most nights when the Yanks were here.”