November 7, 2017

1942. American Troops Parade in London

Crowds Cheer American Soldiers in Britain
American soldiers parade before a crowd in London, September 1942 (Photo by Hans Wild - source)
Thousands Cheer as American Troops Parade Through London
United Press Staff Correspondent

LONDON (UP) — American troops marched through the streets of London today on their first parade of the war, but their own commander, Lieutenant General Dwight Eisenhower, was unable to present because of "urgent matters of the greatest importance."

Speaking at Guildhall, Major General J. C. H. Lee told the troops who had paraded past crowds of 30,000 which thronged the London streets that "if Eisenhower had been able to attend he would have said that the armed forces he commanded over here are not just to defend this beautiful kingdom but to join his Britannic majesty's forces in sustained offensive operations."

Detachment after detachment of air corps men, infantry, marines and engineers marched briskly through the ancient streets.

A crack infantry band from a Northern Ireland camp led the parade. Frequently the doughboys broke out with songs, favoring the World War I favorite, "Over There."

The troops, wearing full dress uniforms, pushed off at 11:30 a. m. from Grosvenor Square, then marched through West End streets past Hyde Park, winding on to London City.

London's bachelor lord mayor, Sir John Laurie, in the first ceremonial held in Guildhall since it was damaged in the December 1940 blitz, welcomed the troops in the city's name at 12:45 p. m., but made no speech.

Twenty marines and 300 regular army troops were selected to represent the entire force at a luncheon in the hall given by the lord mayor. The last time Guildhall was used for a luncheon was in February 1940, when officers and men of the British cruisers Ajax and Exeter were feted for their victory over the German pocket battleship Graf Spee.

Guests at the luncheon included Major Clement Attlee, U. S. Ambassador John G. Winant, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, Labour Minister Ernest Bevin and other British officials and members of the armed services.

Many of the thousands who jammed the area around the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace and lined Trafalgar Square waved small American flags. One lady said she had kept hers since 1918.

The marines, bringing up the rear, had an unscheduled attraction in Ras Prince Monolulu, Britain's most famous horse-race tipster, who attached himself to the parade. Monolulu was decked out in a colorful costume, including a feathered turban, and carried American, British, Russian and Palestinian flags.

One Irish guardsman expressed the crowds' opinion of the marines when he acclaimed them "the finest men they've got."

The band, directed by Drum Major James E. De Weese, Salt Lake City, and the Stars and Stripes borne by an officer with a guard of two soldiers carrying only rifles, also drew cheers all along the route.