A NEW book is shedding light on American servicemen in the Hampshire town of Alresford in World War Two.

Alresford historian Glenn Gilbertson’s latest book, Alresford and the Americans, Our ‘Friendly Invaders’ 1943-44 has been published by the Alresford Historical and Literary Society.

With the approach of the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Mr Gilbertson said it appeared a good time to reflect on why thousands of young Americans were sent to Europe to fight alongside the Allies.

The book goes into the background, the author realising that for many of today’s young people, these events are as remote as the American Civil War is for him, but nonetheless, they have shaped our society ever since.

The US 9th Infantry Division had already seen action in North Africa when they came to Hampshire in 1943 to train for the North European campaign, and the book’s central section recounts their impressions from the American perspective, drawing greatly from the Division’s History ‘Eight Stars to Victory’ by Captain Joseph Mittelman.

Instead of their previous experience of a largely resentful if not hostile native population, the troops rapidly made many friends and were bowled over by our ancient land. While both sides spoke a form of English, the mutual cultural shocks must have been tremendous.

Hampshire Chronicle: Glenn Gilbertson and his new book, Alresford and the Americans

The following chapter covers the highlights of the Division’s actions from Normandy in June 1944 to meeting the Red Army in April 1945; one of the most effective units, they earned the nickname of the ‘Old Reliables’ at the cost of casualties numbering more than twice their normal establishment.

Appendices cover the Division's commanders, the story of Captain Cogswell and ‘Lady Luck’ and the experiences of four Alresford ‘GI Brides’.

Captain Cogswell was a bomber pilot who steered his stricken plane away from the town, crashing near Alresford Pond in 1943.

The book, with 68 illustrated A4 pages, is available for £9.99 from Oxley’s Bookshop, Six West in West Street or via secretary@alresfordhistandlit.co.uk.