Our Yanks

Written by Margaret Mayhew
Review by Audrey Braver

After August 1943, life in the rural village of King’s Thorpe is never the same. Even more cataclysmic than the deprivations and losses suffered by its inhabitants since Britain declared war in 1939 is the arrival of the American airmen who took over the abandoned RAF base on the outskirts of King’s Thorpe. At first the villagers view the Americans with resentment or, at best, reservation. After a bumbling beginning, however, the generosity and loose cordiality of the Americans wins over the natives. This transition is related in several stories that typify associations experienced by American soldiers and English citizens throughout Britain. The rector’s daughter, Agnes Dawes, reluctantly falls in love with Ed Mochetti, an American fighter pilot. The young, recently widowed Lady Beauchamp and Colonel Shrader, the base commander, have a brief affair. There are others, the star-crossed lovers, Sally and Chester; ten year-old Tom who, helps his impoverished family by establishing an entrepreneurial relationship with the Americans; and Miss Cutteridge, a spinster, who befriends a lonely, young American airman.

The author was a child during this period and accurately portrays the attitudes of suspicion, distrust, and skepticism the villagers felt when the Americans first descended on them. She easily shows the gradual acceptance of the Americans until they become affectionately known to the people of King’s Thorpe as “our Yanks.” The American dialogue is sometimes awkward to the American ear because in Our Yanks, Texans, Midwesterners, and New Yorkers sound the same. This is a minor flaw in an otherwise well-written story. This novel is the author’s valentine to the American soldiers stationed in Britain during World War II.