Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yanks Guide to Foreign Country USA

In preparation for returning to the States after the war the GIs in my grandfather's port battalion received an amusing guide to the new "foreign" country they'll be entering. It was a spoof of the US Army's guidebooks to countries in Europe. A while back a veteran told me about this Yanks Guide, but he no longer has his copy. The daughter of William Kelly, a friend of my grandfather, recently scanned his copy. I'm not sure who exactly produced spoof guide—if it was distributed only in the disembarkation point in LeHavre, France or if it is something all GIs in Europe received. If you know anything of GI life during the war, you can expect a few chuckles.

Yanks Guide to "Foreign" Country "USA"

In view of the fact that some of the personnel now overseas have been forced to accept an assignment in the United States, we are printing this short and practical guide to that foreign country.

The United States is composed of land. Bisecting it in the center is the Mississippi River. Everything east of the river is known as New York, while everything west is simply called Texas. There are a couple of other states, but they are not important.

Do not be inveigled into sleeping on one of the big, soft, mattress-covered beds common in the States. Many cases of curvature of the spine have resulted from such practices. In order to get a comfortable night's rest, it is best to carry a blanket and sleep on the floor.

Americans have the disgusting habit of bathing twice a week. Care must be taken when stepping into the shower, as hot water is fairly common and cases of scalding are often reported. Stay away from hot water as much as possible. People have been known to turn white as a result of using too much of it.

Food is generally plentiful, but in some localities powdered eggs are almost unobtainable. You will probably be forced to eat the shell covered kind on most occasions. Do not eat the shell, simply crack the egg and toss away the outer covering. By the same token, dehydrated vegetables are almost extinct in the United States. Stores feature potatoes, carrots, spinach and turnips in their natural status. You will notice pieces of soil still clinging to these items. Wash before eating.

In many restaurants you will see an item called "steak" on the menu. This is to be eaten with a knife and fork. Steak has a meaty taste and isn't too revolting after one gets used to it. Of course, it doesn't come up to the luscious detectability of our own Bully Beef.*

Water comes out of faucets unchlorinated. It is wise to carry a small packet of chloride tablets with you. To make doubly sure, place the water in a lister bag before using.**

One must be cautious when ordering drinks in a bar or saloon. Bartenders try to sell old aged stocks of Scotch and Bourbon. Don't be taken in by such practices. Some of the whiskey is very old and obviously spoiled. If "blonk" wine*** isn't available, it is wise to carry a small flask of alcohol and 100 per cent octane gasoline with you.

The country is run by Republicans, Democrats, and Frank Sinatra. It's a big place because it stretches all the way across the country. Keep on your toes and you will get along okay.

My Notes:
*Bully Beef was the name given to the canned corned beef eaten in the field.
**A lister or "lyster" bag was a canvas sack suspended from a tripod to hold chlorinated drinking water in the field.
***I haven't confirmed this, but I assume "blonk" wine was homemade alcohol. I have read of GIs making moonshine with Army apple juice, and several of the veterans I speak to said they did the same.


  1. I knew we had Combat Comics back in WWII. Good quality humor was the best way to handle stress.
    As we came home from Iraq, I put out something like this.
    "When you land at the airport, don't be afraid to breath the fresh air...."

  2. pretty sure blonk is the same as plonk; i.e. cheap recent wine. (this originated in the great war from the french 'vin blanc')

  3. Thanks. Google let me down on the "blonk" search. It thought I was trying to say "blanc wine."

    Roller Dude, I like your blog!


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