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Bernard Aspinwall


My abiding WWII memory is the arrival of the Americans in Preston. My best friend aged 5-6 had lost his slender musician father through war work in Euxton munitions plant. His widowed mother took in an American officer. He would come home at night from Freckleton/Warton camp where he seemed to be in charge of ferrying new bombers and fighters to bases on the East coast. He would take us for a spin round the block in his jeep, turning the corners ever so slowly and gently on two wheels - a remarkable experience when cars were invariably placed in storage - no petrol. He and his fellow billeted chums would occasionally take us to the PX store which was located beneath the Preston North End football ground, Kop end. The ground was used, as was the adjoining car park, for storing supplies like gun/tank netting, camouflage and so on. Preston North End didn't have a team for a season in wartime soccer. We were then told to go in and get cookies (which we had never seen), chocolates and sweets and left bulging with goodies. The Yanks always had immaculate gaberdine(?) suits and were impeccably well behaved. They seemed to be from Connecticut.

Years later in Chester, Pennsylvania, a post office the clerk saw me posting a letter to Preston and asked if I knew The Red Lion pub in the town centre. He said during his war service there was an agreement that white US troops would go there one night and black US troops alternate nights. Anyway he said after a while the Service couldn't remember who went which night and so they informally integrated in the Red Lion!

The other memory is British troops about 1942 on manoeuvres round the so called "Canary Island" (Linnet, Kingfisher, Plover etc.) streets of Deepdale in full kit and we kids joined them with broomsticks and crawled alongside them. When a sergeant saw us he exploded into a cacophony of swearing such as we had never heard in our lives and swung his boot in our direction. It was the first and last time they were on our streets! My father I can hardly remember WWII as he worked massively long hours at the English Electric company building aircraft and then was on duty at night in both NFS and AFS. What a performance we had each night when he had to put the correct AFS or NFS badge in his cap for duty in Liverpool some 30 miles away in bombing raids etc. These are but a few memories of a dreadful time of shortages.

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