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Walter H. Barrett - B Co

After being wounded in Normandy and my wounds had healed, I returned to Wollaton Park.

The new replacements were interested in our combat experience and tried hard to fit in with the combat seasoned veterans. The replacements were necessary to bring the 508th to full readiness to parachute into another invasion or battle.

Mt best estimate is that my return to Wollaton Park and the 508th was sometime during August 1944.

The weather in Nottingham was good at this time of year, which enabled us to train with our new recruits with field problems, like parachute jumping, firing range and the like.

It was not all work; we were allowed to go into Nottingham on personal passes.

We visited pubs, where local Nottingham residents had gathered for years before we Americans ever thought of being in England, particularly in a war situation.

Many of the paratroopers had become seriously romantically involved with some local lassies.

I especially enjoyed visiting Nottingham Palladium where [they had] big band music and dancing, and many, many girls who wanted to dance with the soldiers.

The majority of the girls were civilians, however sometimes both the English Auxiliary Territorial Service (A.T.S.) and their counterpart, the American Women’s Auxiliary Corp. (W.A.C.) came in force to the Palladium.

The Palladium was practically all bandstands and the dance floor was filled with allied soldiers from America, England, Australia, France, Canada and Ireland.

Going to the palladium after I returned from Normandy was extra special. I met people who were interested in my safe return from combat. They also inquired about other troopers they had met and were also interested in their welfare too.

I also checked out the Red Cross building, which was located in Nottingham, in fact the Red Cross building was near the Palladium. Both were fun places to go with lots of nice people to meet.

The Red Cross served doughnuts and coffee. The coffee was very good after drinking the heavy black beer. I did not particularly like beer, but after a while I was able to down a few.

We were so anxious to get into Nottingham after a hard days exercise at Wollaton Park, that we skipped the evening meal served on our base in order to have more time at our favorite pubs, the Trip To Jerusalem and Denman’s.

We enjoyed eating in the pubs. Both pubs sold big cheese sandwiches consisting of a piece of cheese about a half inch thick between two pieces of bread, that was it, but was it ever good! The sandwiches weren’t wrapped; instead they were stacked on a shelf behind the bar. So our evening meal often consisted of a mug of Guinness and a cheese sandwich. Apparently the diet agreed with me, because I weighed the most I ever weighed in my life.

There were pianos in the pubs, and we bought the piano player drinks to play our favorite songs while we sang to them.

Sometimes there were English soldiers in the pubs and they would get upset with the Americans, because we could afford to buy beer, liquor, food and songs. There was quite a disparity between the pay scales of American and English military forces. The English [disliked] it when we bought beer and food for the piano player.

One of their favourite comments about American Soldiers was that we were overpaid, over sexed and over here.

On the other hand local residents attending the pubs seemed to enjoy the atmosphere and joined in the singing.

Many courtships began in such neighborhood gathering places. One sad case I recall was a pretty English girl who came to the Trip To Jerusalem. She had fallen in love with an American Air Force soldier before the invasion of Europe, and they planned to be married when he returned.

She had become pregnant. It was quite common for the English girls want to marry American soldiers in order to become American citizens. Unfortunately the Air Force soldier was killed in the invasion. The baby was born before we returned from Normandy, and she often came to the pub to see her friends. It seemed that she might be having a difficult time, because she was not as well kept as she had been prior to the D-Day Invasion. I remember we pooled some money for her. The rumor was that somehow American soldiers were getting food rations from the mess hall and giving them to her.

Many English families benefited from knowing American soldiers.

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