Monday, August 9, 2010

Billets in Sea Mills and Stoke Bishop, England

The Elliott family with GIs, Dave Weaver and Bruce Kramlich, Stoke Bishop, Bristol.

Chapter 6 of my book deals with Bristol, England. The 519th Port Battalion arrived in Bristol on April 11, 1944. Local barrack buildings were already full of US troops, so the port company men were billeted in private homes. The GIs were scattered around the suburbs of Sea Mills and Stoke Bishop. The men had a warm relationship with their host families. The Americans and English shared backyard bomb shelters during the German air raids and enjoyed tea and crumpets every morning. Many of the GIs stayed in touch with their host families after the war. After D-Day, a 1/4 of GI mail was sent to addresses in Britain, so obviously a lot of long-term friendships came out of the billeting process.

Matt Marvin, Dave Weaver, and Bruce Kramlich stayed with the Elliot family at Stokewood, Bell Barn Road, Stoke Bishop, Bristol. I love how classically English the pike-smoking Mr. Elliot appears in the photo above. The Elliots sent Christmas cards to Bruce every year, and he visited them again in England sometime after the war. Dave Weaver tells me that he still sometimes exchanges letters with the Elliots' children.

My grandfather, Cortland Hopkins, roomed with Sgt. James Dolan. GIs were not supposed to eat the civilians' food—strict wartime rationing was in effect and the US Army had plenty to feed the troops. However, the English insisted on being good hosts and welcomed the Americans to dinner. Below are photos of the family that Mike DeLaura stayed with somewhere in the Bristol area.

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