Hitler defeated at Stalingrad. The Eighth army move into Sicily. The Americans take Guadalcanal.
It is 1943.
America had been fighting in the Second World War for eighteen months, yet most of the American people had been untouched by war and indeed questioned their country’s involvement. Roosevelt wanted to show the American people what war was like and what was needed to fight it. Churchill sent some ordinary British Tommies, soldiers who had seen life at the front and could talk about what they had seen.
The 1st British Anti-Aircraft Demonstration Battery Royal Artillery was made up of men who had seen intense fighting, many of them in North Africa. A composite Battery, it included both Heavy and Light AA guns, searchlights and highly technical specialist equipment such as radar which was barely off the drawing board. The Battery’s mandate was to show the American people how Britain had fought off air attack, and by doing so encourage their support.
Clifford Cole was the radar expert attached to the demonstration Battery. He kept detailed records of the Battery’s six-month tour through more than thirty states of the union and even into Mexico.
From New York to San Francisco, from Chicago to El Paso, Cole describes demonstration firing and ticker tape parades, broadcasting about the Blitz and hobnobbing with Hollywood, guarding prisoners of war and the long journeys by sea and train. He also provides a British reaction to an America far less known seventy years ago than
it is now.
Nearly 200 photographs, correspondence from senior US officials, maps and press cuttings illustrate the Battery’s tour. Many of the photographs offer rare views of events such as Ack Ack guns firing at night, cadet training at West Point, Hollywood stars fund raising, life on Southern plantations, etc.