Thank Goodness They’re Going – GI Brides, 1946
The vitriol is really flowing in this opinion piece about the GI brides taking their leave of the UK for pastures new with their American husbands. I would be amazed if there wasn’t a dash of personal indignation over a potential sweetheart here, although the American GIs based in the UK were famously resented as being “over-fed, over-paid, over-sexed and over here,” wooing British women with their ready supply of nylons and cigarettes.
The writer, a serviceman recently returned from overseas, is “fizzing” about the luxuries bestowed on the travelling wives – the ships laid on for their trip containing beds, food, clothes and toys galore. Or at least “galore” from the perspective of those having suffered the deprivations of 6 years of total war. He points out that the ships also contain “Thousands of soluble nappies (whatever they may be)” – and yes, whatever were they? I can’t find any more details about them but presume they were an early form of disposable nappy.
Their food is a particular bugbear:
“Notice their breakfast the day they sailed? Tomato juice, porridge, scrambled eggs, bread, marmalade and coffee. Now, I hope America provided that for them. Because if it came off our rations, then I take more than [a] somewhat dim view of it. Particularly when I think of the mess of dried egg I went to work on this morning.”
Well, he’s got a point. But between the delights of young love and the joy of the war ending, it must have been a giddy time.
“Well, isn’t that just too, too thrilling?”
And here’s the article that has got our brilliantly sarcastic author all worked up – bananas, soluble nappies and all. It’s from the same newspaper, a week earlier. It shows that an amazing 12,000 brides were due to sail to the U.S. in February 1946.
Interestingly, I found out that “over-fed, over-paid, over-sexed, and over here” is a phrase that doesn’t seem to have featured in print during the war, despite it being extremely well-known at the time as it was popularised by comic Tommy Trinder. The earliest reference to it in print found by Phrases.org.uk is from 1958, but I’ve found this, an ex-GI mentioning the phrase, from 1948: