“In all my life I don’t think I have laughed so hard”

– Audience member, Kim


Issued in 1942 by the American War Office, the pamphlet ‘Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain’ aimed to prepare GIs for their new home and defuse Nazi propaganda attempts to split the allies asunder. A crash course on the quirks and customs of British life, it featured everything from cricket, the King and indoor amusements to Sunday afternoons in the country. They have been described as an ‘Ordnance survey map’ of the country’s psyche, and since being re-published in 2005, have become a treasured reminder of both the country’s finest hour, and its strangest eccentricities.

Some of our favourite quotes – Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain, published by the Bodleian Library

“The British don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee. You don’t know how to make a good cup of tea. It’s an even swap.”

“The British are tough – the English language didn’t spread across the world because these people were panty-waists.”

“When you see a girl in khaki or air-force blue with a bit of ribbon on her tunic – remember she didn’t get it for knitting more socks than anyone else in Ipswich.”

“The first duty Hitler has given his propaganda chiefs is to separate Britain and America and spread mistrust between them.”

“Most people get used to the English climate eventually.”

“Be careful not to criticize the King.”

“It is always impolite to criticize your hosts. It is militarily stupid to insult your allies.”

“In ‘getting along’, the first important thing to note is that the British are like the Americans in many ways – but not all ways.”

“Remember that crossing the ocean doesn’t automatically make you a hero.”

“British money is in pounds, shillings and pence. They won’t be pleased to hear you call it ‘funny money’. They sweat hard to get it.“

“If you are invited into a British home and the host exhorts you to ‘eat up, there’s plenty on the table’, go easy. It may be the family’s rations for a whole week spread out to show their hospitality.”


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