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Bovingdon Airfield

During the Second World War the airfield was a US air base.  Information on its history can be found by clicking here, here and here.  A brief history of of the airfield (including its use as a film location) is here.  Further information is available in Ray Potter's Bovingdon Airfield, published by the Dacorum Heritage Trust in 1998.

 

John Stanbridge

(Interview by Lynda Abbott and Fay Breed, November 2011.)

John Stanbridge worked on his family farm during the war and was a member of the Home Guard.  He told us his vivid recollections of Americans in the local area:

One thing that comes to mind is the relationship between American and British troops stationed locally. The only Americans that I knew of were stationed at Bovingdon airport. The issue was complicated because in practice, but not in theory, there were two separate armies here. One white, one black. What friction there was, was between these two groups.

There was a Black American transport company stationed at Bovingdon. These gained a reputation for the quick delivery of goods from point A to point B. This was especially true of the run between Boxmoor station and the airport. One ventured very carefully up Bovingdon Hill in those days as it was not unusual to be passed by a powerful and heavily ladened lorry at 50 plus MPH.

One natural resentment against the American troops was that they were paid a lot extra per day than all other allied troops. This enabled them to purchase from their well-stocked stores such items as nylons, cookies, fruit that was not available to the British public. These goods were given to the British girls with the odd bottle of ‘Jack Daniels’ for Dad, to keep him happy and not interfere too much!

This obviously caused resentment and in the phraseology of the time it was said that the Americans were cocky little devils who were “Overpaid, Oversexed and over here!”

Read more of John's recollections about our American guests here.

 

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