‘A better understanding between our two peoples…’
While the 78th Fighter Group planned their part in the liberation of Europe, many of the men were making their own plans for the future. Duxford’s Station Chaplain, Buford B Fordham, in his report for May 1944 explains how marriages were planned between the Americans and local women (‘Officers as well as Enlisted men are falling victims of Dan Cupid’). He also discusses the spiritual side of life ‘on base’, and muses that the bond forged between the Americans and British is ‘one good aspect of the war, which will lead to better understanding between our two peoples.’
‘As Station Chaplain I have seen “history in the making” as service men and British women have come to my office for marriage consultations. Being on the Board which makes investigations and recommendations, I see them all. In the month of May, which was typical, I had 17 such interviews, involving 38 people. A total of 9 marriages were actually consummated. In addition to myself there is the Squadron Commander and the Squadron Medical Officer. It is our function to make recommendations to the Station Commander who has been delegated the responsibility of approving or disapproving marriages involving American military personnel. For the most part our service men are marrying women who will be a credit to them wherever they go, and these marriages will undoubtedly contribute much toward favourable Anglo-American relations in the years ahead. Officers as well as Enlisted men are falling victims of Dan Cupid, and many of these couples- both officers and Enlisted Men have not only wives, but families. The sociological significance of these Anglo-American marriages is certain to be far-reaching. The contacts which we of the Investigating Board make with the parents of the girls involved, are often most interesting; and in a very few cases, rather pathetic.
Quite frequently we American Chaplains are asked to preach at nearby English churches. This month I conducted the evening worship service at the Congregational Chapel in Great Chesterford. There were 50 people present.
A number of men from this Station have been attending various civilian churches on Sunday evenings, as a result of what we call our “Church Run”. Churches visited include: St. Mary’s the Lesser in Cambridge, Congregational Church in Bassingbourn, Wesleyan Chapel in Cambridge, and a Presbyterian Church as well known as the famous King’s College Chapel, also in Cambridge. These experiences have religious, social and cultural value, and are greatly enjoyed by those who have been the “Church Runs”.
For the second time the St. Andrew’s St. Baptist Church in Cambridge has given us the use of its baptistery. This last month a S/Sgt. Of Headquarters, 79th Service Group, was baptized in a private service.
On May 30th a Memorial Day service was conducted on the Parade Ground at this Station.
A pleasant and profitable contact was made when some of us visited the Harvey-Goodwin Orphanage in Cambridge, leaving these children five boxes of candies, gum, etc., which the Officers of this Station contributed out of their personal rations. Earlier Enlisted Men made a similar contribution which was taken to British soldiers who were confined in a British hospital in New Market, England. (The White Lodge Emergency Hospital).
I had the opportunity of addressing a Baptist Minister’s Conference in the St. Andrew’s Street Baptist Church in Cambridge. This was an annual conference, and my subject was “The American Baptist Scene and World Baptist Future.” This was the third such occasion I have had of this nature in Cambridge.
I was asked to address a Church Women’s Rally in the Congregational Church in Duxford, England. There were representations from some six different churches present, and the attendance was approximately 100.
Further contacts were made with English civilians when I had some English mothers attend our Mother’s Day service held here on the Station; and as I later attended a Tea held in their honor, in the Aero Club at this Base.
With more than a year already spent in England I can say that we Chaplains have almost unlimited opportunities to come to know the country and her citizens better than would be possible under almost any other circumstances. We trust this will be one good aspect of the war, which will lead to better understanding between our two peoples.’