With her blue overalls, hair tied back, and power tool in hand, ‘Rosie the Riveter’ has come to personify the roles that American women played in the Second World War. Though factory work was dangerous, grueling, and vital, ‘Rosie’ offers an incomplete portrait of women at war, for they were far from only riveters…
In the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library archives, there are numerous poems both by and about the United States military personnel who served in East Anglia during the Second World War. When they are compared with one another, the poems draw attention to the differences between how the American servicemen understood themselves and how they were perceived by the British.
We might imagine a military hospital to be nothing but depressing and tragic, exhibiting only the terrible consequences of war. The Station Hospital in Morley, a village near Wymondham around thirteen miles west of Norwich, was no exception, caring for those with severe and sometimes fatal injuries. However, the hospital had another side, indeed maybe even another purpose, to the dispiriting task of tending to wounded soldiers. Those who experienced Morley remember it not simply as a hospital, but also as a place where music played, where joy and happiness were had, and where lifelong friends and lovers were found.
In Norwich, the history that surrounds you seems as apparent as it is ancient: the Norman castle, the thirty-two medieval churches, and the winding cobblestone streets. In a city like this, the trading estate on Barker Street might very well be the last place you would consider “historic”. Today, it is just a complex of car dealers and nondescript commercial warehouses. But in one abrupt instant seventy-two years ago, this unsuspecting location became etched into the story of the United States airmen stationed in East Anglia in the Second World War.