"Monday, 17th April 1944 - 80,000 American soldiers have moved into Dorset

It is estimated that a total of 80,000 American soldiers are now billetted in Dorset, from the chalets of Freshwater holiday camp on the coast at Burton Bradstock to Nissen huts in hazel coppices on Cranborne Chase."

Below are a number of photographs with the captions as taken from the book.


Click on a picture for a more detailed image.


Seaside serenade: with this evocative photograph of a pillbox below Burton Cliff having its story told in the contemporary caption from April 1944.

"In 1940 the village beach was guarded against invasion, first by Local Defence Volunteers, then by Home Guards. Today, with the tables turned, U.S. troops can spend their leisure hours on it. Sitting on a concrete blockhouse, behind which Britain's amateur ill-armed soldiers were prepared to sell their lives dearly, Corporal Bert Markowitz, 30-46, 23rd Street, Astoria, Borough of Queen's N.Y.C., plays his violin. Markowitz, a student at the University of Miami, played with the N.B.C. as studio musician. Listening to him is T/5 G.R. Miller, 4106 Vermont Ave. Louisville, Kentucky."

US GIs on pillbox April 1944
Generation gap: Bridged by cocoa, in N.A.A.F.I. cups, provided by Corporal David W. Roberts, from Iowa, who leans out of his holiday camp billet at Freshwater, Burton Bradstock. Betty "Freckles" Mackay, a London evacuee from the blitz, is accompanied by local boy Chris Kerley.
Boy and girl have drink with GI
Liz (as she is now known) Mackay as she is today - still living in the village! Liz (as she is now known) Mackay as she is today - still living in the village!
Chesil Beach: Eyes towards France in April 1944, from Burton Beach, as American GIs prepare to take the war back across the channel.
US GIs gaze towards France in April 1944
Gun Belt: Beach-found, according to the original caption, though that sounds contrived. The soldiers around the iron seat that circles the Sycamore tree on the triangle of the village green in Burton Bradstock village, are John L. Lawson of Port Jervis, New York; Robert S. Hastings of Azusa, California; Leo H. Pearson of Springville, New York; and Corporal Roland Henry of Holland, Pennsylvania.
Found gun belt?
Haircut Time: Above the ears, in April 1944 at a late afternoon open-air hair salon on a boulder in the shingle at Freshwater, Burton Bradstock. The Americans occupied the nearby holiday camp. Haircut on beach
Gas Station: Village boy mans A.E. Cheney's pumps at Red House Garage, Burton Bradstock, as another cleans the windscreen of an American Jeep, in April 1944. Behind the thatched cottage is the village playing field with the church tower in the distance. The presence of an "Headquarters" vehicle shows the importance of this photographic session. Filling up Jeep at garage
Village Canteen: Gunner Weightman of the British Army, an old habitue, hands round home-made cakes in April 1944 at Burton Bradstock, to Corporal James Flower of Walpole, Massachusetts, Private First-class Roy St. Jean of Springfield, Mass., and Corporal Allan Decker of Chicago. In 'so called' canteen
Rectory Tea: On the lawn behind St. Mary's Parish Church at Burton Bradstock, in April 1944. The hosts are Rev and Mrs. Arthur Dittmer and their white-pawed tabby cat. Their United States Army guests are Lieutenant S.M. Weitzner of Ridgewood, New York, and Major E.M. Beebe of Burlington, Vermont. The latter was the manager of the telephone company in Burlington. The detail in these captions makes it clear that they were intended for a trans-Atlantic audience.
Tea at Rectory
Tasting Tea: "Britain's traditional social meal" as the caption had it in April 1944, being poured by the village schoolmaster's wife at Burton Bradstock. Sergeant Harold D. Kregar, from Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, won the Legion of Merit in Iceland.
Tea with schoolmaster's wife
Asking Directions: "The way to the village canteen", according to the original caption, with Private First-Class Roy St. Jean of Springfield, Massachusetts, chatting to Petty Officer Podger "lately invalided out of the Royal Navy" who was born in Burton Bradstock and served in both world wars.
Lucky Horseshoe: Being presented by blacksmith Benjamin Burton to the Commanding Officer of the American unit, by the smithy at Burton Bradstock. The officer has a sticking-plaster over a recent wound to his forehead. April 1944 was a time of much training and familiarisation with live explosives.
Presenting lucky horseshoe
Making Friends: This was a general theme in this set of propaganda photographs, with an American arm on the boy's shoulder and Burton Bradstock's blacksmith Benjamin Burton showing the horses hoof. "US Troops are discovering that the Britisher is not as stand-offish as he is said to be", the contemporary caption reads.
Making friends at smithy
Common Culture: The propaganda behind this superb series of photographs was every bit as good as the photograph - for here the subtle inference is that with a date before 1783, Britain and the United States share a common history. The Rector of Burton Bradstock, Rev Arthur Dittmer, points out an inscription on one of his table-tombs, to Major E.M Beebe of Burlington, Vermont and Lieutenant S.M. Weitzner of Ridgewood, New York.
Common culture? Rector showing old gravestone
Deliberate Misinformation: The location of these photographs remained a national secret until they were first seen by the present author. This scene, in the Dove Inn at Southover, Burton Bradstock, has a prominent poster for Brewers H. and G. Simonds Limited of Reading . There is also a Simonds calendar, dating the series April 1944. Though the company also has a depot in Blandford, the prominence of the poster and the projecting nail holding it in place are unlikely to be coincidental; every effort was being made to suggest that the invasion would come from further east. As for the setting, the GI offensive began with English public houses. Their pint was beer - darker but less potent than the rough cider of the locals.
In pub with wrong location
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