Milwyr Americanaidd yn y DU yn ystod yr Ail Ryfel Byd / US troops in the UK during WW2 - US National Archives
Hard as it may be to believe, but at the very height of the
Second World War, Amlwch was invaded twice in one
day. The first time was not altogether aggressive, and the
second was actually a most benign and heartwarming experience.
The Saturday began for me when I saw the local Home Guard
gathering in the Crosville Garage, next to my home in the Police
Station. In their early days the men paraded with nothing in the
way of uniforms -- nothing other than armbands proclaiming that
they were "Local Defence Volunteers" -- and armed with broomsticks
onto which some had tied kitchen knives as poor substitutes for
rifles and bayonets. Comical as it would be to behold today,
it was all deadly serious then.
There was an exercise on, and our men were preparing to defend
the town against an invasion by "enemy" Home Guard units from
Caernarfonshire. In a desperate attempt to gain some intelligence as to the enemy's
whereabouts, I (being the only one around with a bicycle) was asked
by the Sergeant if I would ride as fast as I could as far as
Llaneilian to see if there was any sign of them.
I pedalled as furiously as I could without seeing a soul in
uniform, only to return to find that Amlwch had fallen in my
absence to the sneaky invaders, who had travelled unseen across the
fields instead of along the roads where ambushes had been prepared
for them. So ended my very brief but tiring career as a
Invaded by Americans
That same evening we children were gathered outside Thomas's
chip shop, as usual, when to our great surprise a convoy of some 10
jeeps cruised slowly down Queen Street to stop head to tail along
Salem Street alongside us. Each contained 4 African American
"G.I.Joes," many of whom immediately disappeared into the nearby
pubs, whilst others found their entertainment elsewhere.
Some however had come prepared to meet the local children, for
loaded in the backs of the jeeps were cartons of sweets and chewing
gum the likes of which we saw only in our wildest dreams.
were boxes of Hershey's chocolate bars and Wrigley's chewing gum of
the flat variety we had then only seen in films. This was a
distinct improvement over the sugar-coated "Beech Nut" variety we
had been used to, and most certainly it was far, far superior
to the once-only, vile flavoured ersatz "chewing gum" made of
candle-wax which stuck tenaciously to our teeth for days.
While some of the soldiers organised queues for the fair
distribution of the sweets they had brought, others bought "penny
mixes" for us, which were small bags of chips and mushy peas
produced as fast as they could by the Thomas family.
An unlikely friendship
I fell into conversation with one young soldier as we both sat
on canvas seats in one of the open-topped jeeps (which was a thrill
in itself). Although he seemed a grown man in my eyes, he was, with
hindsight, probably still in his teens. Having asked me about my
life here in England (?!!), he told me of his own upbringing in one
of the southern states and his subsequent enlistment in the U.S.
He said that he and his comrades had half expected to meet with
some measure of prejudice on their arrival in the UK, but were more
than pleasantly surprised when they were welcomed unreservedly into
Our conversation must have lasted well over an hour, and I was
very sad when all of the soldiers came back as if by magic at an
appointed time to return to their camp somewhere on
Before he left however my new-found friend whose name I have
regretfully forgotten presented me with his silver-piped forage cap
as a souvenir. It is true to say that for months after, the
only time during the day or night when I didn't have the cap on my
head was in class where such juvenile indulgences were
We all longed to see them again but never did. More's the
I have very many times thought of my American friend since then.
Did he survive the war? Did he return to the United States a hero,
as he and his comrades surely should have done?