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The Friendly Invasion

Between 1942 and 1945 there were at any one time around 50,000 USAAF (United States Army Air Force) stationed within a 30 mile radius of Norwich. The impact of this ‘friendly invasion’ on the local people was considerable, particularly in some villages where American service men and women, vastly outnumbered the local population.

Hundreds of miles of concrete runways were laid in a matter of months and there was an introduction, to our rationed region, of peanut butter, donuts, chewing gum, popcorn and Coca Cola! The Americans also brought with them segregation, in Harleston there were alternative days for black and white personnel to visit the town. There were numerous air bases around Harleston; Thorpe Abbots, Flixton, Metfield for example.


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