The Battle of Bamber Bridge
What happened when English villagers encountered American racism during World War II?
African-American soldiers in England during the Second World War. Photograph by David E. Scherman /LIFE Picture Collection / Getty/New Yorker.
This is a special edition of The Ruffian. Normal service, insofar as there is such a thing, resumes next week.
In the US military, soldiers killed while serving their country are posthumously awarded a gold star. If you look through the archive of gold star veterans who hailed from Virginia and served in World War II, you will come across one William Crosland. There is scant information about him. It says he served in the Air Force, for the 1151st Quartermaster Truck Regiment, and that he died on June 27th, 1943. The cause of his death is given as ‘DNB’ – died non-battle. The official record says he “experienced a critical situation which resulted in loss of life.” Dig a little further and you find that Crosland was posthumously found guilty of riotous behaviour, resisting arrest, and assaulting members of the Military Police, at Bamber Bridge, Lancashire, England.
We do not know much about Crosland but we know a little more about the circumstance in which he lost his life, thanks to scholars like Alan Rice, professor of English and American Studies at the University of Central Lancashire, and Clinton Smith, an amateur historian who lives near Bamber Bridge. The US Air Force called the event concerned a mutinous riot; Smith and other locals think of it as the moment that a brutally oppressed class of men were forced to confront their abusive superiors. Through historical accounts, themselves based on patchy court records, it’s possible to reconstruct an outline of what took place, and what it meant.
Here’s what we know for sure: for several hours during the night of June 24, 1943, a gun fight took place between two groups of soldiers in the small English town of Bamber Bridge. In the context of the second world war, the incident hardly counts as major. Three men were seriously injured, one was killed. What makes it remarkable is that all the men involved wore American uniform. This was a fight between black troops and white troops.
On a warm midsummer evening, two Military Policemen (MPs) – American officers tasked with ensuring discipline among the troops - drove by one of Bamber Bridge’s pubs, the Hob Inn, on the village’s main road. Roy Windsor and Ralph Ridgeway were based in nearby Preston, but that night, as they passed the Hob, they noticed what they took to be a disturbance and stopped. It’s hard to say what caught their attention but among the mixed crowd of black GIs, British soldiers, and local civilians at the Hob there seems to have been boisterous resistance to the call for last orders. The Americans were unaccustomed to being refused beer after 10pm.
Whether what took place constituted disorder or not, Windsor and Ridgeway were determined to treat it as such. After parking the jeep and getting out, Windsor confronted some of the black GIs drinking outside the pub, while Ridgeway went inside. There, he surveyed a scene that must have enraged him. Not only were the black soldiers enjoying themselves, but they were mingling freely with white men and women, an eventuality that the American military had gone to great lengths to prevent.
Perhaps because he was unable to observe or elicit any report of unruly behaviour, Windsor picked on a black GI in the wrong clothes. American soldiers were expected to wear uniform while in public. Eugene Nunn, the GI, was wearing his field jacket. When Ridgeway approached him and attempted an arrest, Nunn refused to go quietly. A noisy row ensued, with the pub’s clientele taking Nunn’s side.
Outside, Windsor, sensing that things were getting out of control, shouted “Let’s go!” As Ridgeway and others emerged from the pub the crowd of Americans and Brits outside grew increasingly agitated and angry. “Why do you want to arrest them?” shouted a British soldier, “They’re not bothering anybody.”
Private Lynn Adams, one of the black soldiers, advanced on Windsor with a bottle in his hand; Windsor drew his gun. Staff Sergeant Byrd (black) tried to calm the situation and succeeded in persuading Windsor to put his gun away. Windsor and Ridgeway extricated themselves from the crowd, and climbed back into their jeep. “We’ll be back,” they shouted, while pulling away. Adams threw his beer bottle at the vehicle. It smashed on the windscreen.
The soldiers conferred among themselves as they headed away from the pub, sensing that this was not the end of a fight, but its start. Whatever was about to take place had been a long time coming.
The arrival of thousands of black American soldiers in Britain represents one of the most fascinating natural experiments of the second world war. It exposed radical and uncomfortable differences between the two countries, and left a lasting impression on both.
Shortly after entering World War II at the end of 1941, the United States began to transport vast numbers of soldiers to Britain. Troop numbers reached a peak of 1.6 million in 1944, and included close to 130,000 black Americans. The troops were stationed in nearly 2000 military bases across the country, in rural and urban areas alike.
The Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, acting with the support or at least consent of Winston Churchill, had initially tried to persuade the US not to send black troops, on the basis that it would create tensions between white Americans and Britons, who, Eden said, might show “more effusiveness to the coloured people than the Americans would readily understand”. There was probably also an element of racist concern about miscegenation, a persistent concern for British authorities. Nevertheless, the US military had deemed it impractical to send white troops only.
During the war, American soldiers accounted for the vast majority of black people in Britain. Britain’s population was overwhelmingly white, most of the country almost entirely so. Black Britons numbered around eight thousand in total, and were clustered in London, Liverpool and a few other ports. For the residents of most towns and villages near US bases, the proximity of black people was wholly novel.
Given that most Britons had seen black people only in films or books, you might have expected them to distrust or fear the new arrivals. Instead, as the historian David Olusoga remarks, the natives were “extraordinarily welcoming” to their black visitors. In fact, black GIs were offered a warmer reception than their white counterparts. In the letters and diaries of British inhabitants, White GIs are portrayed as arrogant, flashy, and unruly, while Black GIs, by contrast, are described as courteous, self-disciplined, and charming.
Olusoga quotes a British woman from Marlborough, Wiltshire, writing in 1943: “Everybody here adores the Negro troops, all the girls go to their dances, but nobody likes the White Americans. They swagger about us as if they were the only people fighting this war. They all get so drunk and look so untidy, while the negroes are very polite, much smarter and everybody’s pets.” Even allowing for the hint of condescension the difference in tone is striking, and typical. An often-quoted phrase at the time was “I don’t mind the Yanks, but I don’t care much for the white fellows they’ve brought with them.”
For black GIs, the warm and respectful treatment they received in Britain’s shops, pubs, and church halls threw their relationship with fellow countrymen into sharp relief. At home, black Americans from Southern states were strictly segregated from whites and systematically oppressed. Jim Crow laws ensured that they were politically disenfranchised and economically marginalised, eighty years after the abolition of slavery. The oppression was cultural too: black Americans were routinely and openly treated as contemptible by their white counterparts.
The US military, wherever it travelled, replicated these fundamental conditions. Although black and white soldiers were paid equally, nearly all senior officers were white. With few exceptions, black troops were limited to non-combat service roles: supply, transport, food preparation, sanitation. Crucially, the two ‘races’ were as segregated in Britain as they were at home. Black soldiers and white soldiers lived in separate camps, ate in separate canteens, socialised in separate army clubs, and were allowed off base on different nights of the week.
Once black soldiers left base, however, they found themselves in a country with no such rules and less rigid prejudices. The UK government refused American requests to enforce segregation, which allowed for a good deal of socialising between blacks and local populations. The preference of the English for black Americans was reciprocated: an US military survey of nearly three thousand GIs in November 1943 found that American blacks were significantly more likely than whites to have a favourable opinion of English people. As one black GI put it, the contrast between “the attitude of the English people” and those of many white GIs was like “a starry sky upon a cloudy night”. Another wrote that the locals were “exceptionally good to us. Most of the people don’t know no color line or discrimination.”
For many black soldiers, the experience of Britain renewed and sharpened a sense of injustice over how they were treated in the United States. As one put it, “we are treated better in England than we are in a country that is supposed to be our home.” Naturally enough, it led some of them to question why they were fighting. Another GI wrote: “I am an American negro, doing my part for the American government to make the world safe for a democracy I have never known.”
As the historian David Reynolds puts it, for many black GIs, service in Britain “opened their eyes and expanded their sense of the possible.” He cites a letter from Joseph Curtis, a black lieutenant stationed in the West Country during 1944. Curtis’s impressions of the English had been formed by movies and the novels of P.G. Wodehouse. He expected to find snobbery and racial prejudice; instead he was met with warm hospitality, invited into the home of a local schoolmaster in Cornwall for several long discussions and befriended by the Barnes family of Chacewater, near Redruth, who baked him a birthday cake from their meagre rations. “The more I see of the English,” he wrote to a friend, “the more disgusted I become with Americans. After the war, with the eager and enthusiastic support of every negro who will have served in Europe, I shall start a movement to send white Americans back to England and bring the English to America.”
The British were also changed by the experience. According to Olusoga, the public “vehemently objected to the treatment of black GIs…Exposed for the first time to the sheer vindictiveness of American racial prejudice, it was they who took greatest offence, and they who were most repelled by the violence meted out to black GIs.” This led to an upsurge of anti-American sentiment. In a newspaper column from December 1943, George Orwell noted that “The general consensus of opinion seems to be that the only American soldiers with decent manners are the Negroes.”
In Britain’s public spaces, the conflicting forces at play met and ignited. One such space was the English pub. For black soldiers, in particular, the pub was a place to escape the oppression of regular army life. The mixture of alcohol, black and white GIs, women, and local bystanders was a combustible one. It was in the pub that British people often witnessed the shocking vindictiveness Olusoga refers to, as white Americans attempted to enforce segregation.
Here is Reynolds: “Many were the occasions when a white GI tried to evict a black from a pub, or ostentatiously smashed the glass from which the black had been drinking and then flung down some coins as contemptuous compensation.” A landlady in Bristol was confronted by white Americans demanding that she stop serving drinks to black GIs. She responded, “Their money is as good as yours, and we prefer their company.” At another pub, a notice was displayed which read, “Only blacks served here.”
A Blackpool man recalled seeing “American troops literally kick, and I mean kick, the coloured soldiers off the pavement.” In a canteen for Allied troops, British and American soldiers mixed, served by locals, a young woman witnessed incident she wrote to her friend about: “An American airman walked in, and seeing the coloured airman quietly sitting at a table, strolled up to him and slashed [slapped] him across the face!” The black airman was from the British Dominions. “Of course everyone jumped up ready for a fight but the proprietress managed to stop it.” The American demanded that the black man be removed from the premises. “The British said if anyone ought to go it was the American. A schoolmistress who was helping out at the back, dashed out and slashed [slapped] the American’s face, and her language was very choice!...It seems amazing that the Americans are fighting on our side, when you hear things like that.”
The British were not free of racist attitudes, but the absence of public discrimination was very meaningful to black GIs and to the black Americans who staffed the American Red Cross (ARC) – educated civilians operating in tandem with the US military but not part of it. Black ARC officials frequently came into conflict with military officers. One wrote to Walter White of the NAACP that “the chief complaint against us is the fact that we are too bright intellectually, which only means that we do not brook any foolishness.” In the ARC, black women were often at the forefront of these disputes. An American general described the director of the ARC black club in Winchester, Elizabeth McDougald, as “a highly educated negress with very different ideas on race equality” and “an agitator of the worst sort.” McDougald wanted white soldiers to be allowed to visit her club; the general did not agree. McDougald made a nuisance of herself in other ways, taking an interest in a court-martial case in which two black officers were stabbed by a white paratrooper after he saw them with a white girl in a pub, and making a formal complaint that white GIs were trying to prejudice local people against blacks. The general recommended her replacement by “a person of tact”.
After incidents of racial violence between black and white GIs in Winchester, the black club was closed down and black troops were redirected to nearby Basingstoke. The director of the ARC club there, Camille K. Jones, resigned in protest after nineteen months of trying to contest the “infiltration of prejudice” by white GIs. She said, “I see us fighting fascists but not fascist principles, for in our midst we continue to harbour doctrines of racial supremacy which belie the cause for which we are fighting.”
Ridgeway and Windsor had no intention of accepting the insubordination they had encountered at the Old Hob. After consulting with two American officers who refused to get involved, they looked for reinforcements and picked up two more MPs, before heading back in the direction of the Hob. At about 10.25pm they came across a group of about twelve black soldiers, among them Eugene Nunn and Lynn Adams, walking back along quiet streets of terraced houses towards base camp (“Adams Hall”, essentially a collection of prefabricated huts).
The MPs stopped the jeep and, guns drawn, confronted the GIs. Arrests were attempted and refused, and fighting broke out. The unarmed black GIs fought with beer bottles and cobblestones, the latter taken from the front garden of Mrs Emily Dimmock. One of the MPs fired his gun, shooting Private Adams in the neck. Another of black GI was shot in the back. After these shots, the crowd dispersed. The MPs went to gather more reinforcements, while the black soldiers carried their badly wounded comrades back to camp. They passed two American officers in a jeep (the same officers who had chosen not to get involved earlier in the evening) and asked them to ferry the wounded men to the local hospital. The officers refused and drove off.
When the black soldiers arrived back at Adams Hall, a few of them commandeered jeeps and drove the injured men to hospital. The others went inside, shook sleeping soldiers awake, and reported on the night’s events. Rumours swept through the camp, which was electrified by anger at the shootings and fear that the MPs would soon be back for more. Around 200 soldiers gathered in the yard, urgently discussing what to do next. The senior officers on duty that night, Major Heris and Captain Anderson, both white, stood near the gates, vainly ordering the men back to barracks. Some black GIs decided to take matters into their own hands: seizing guns and trucks, they crashed through the gates into town, scattering Heris and Anderson.
The unit commander, General Pitcher, was absent that night, and Heris and Anderson could not impose their authority over the GIs, with whom they anyway had some sympathy. Tense and emotional conversations ensued. Fred Davis and George Patterson, both First Sergeants, were the only two black officers in the regiment (First Sergeant is a non-commissioned officer, ranking above privates but below the most junior commissioned officer). Patterson approached Anderson. Normally a model of soldierly comportment, Patterson was agitated and dishevelled. “Captain, who shot my man?” he asked. “By God, I am going to find out who shot him.” He asked permission to go and see his men in hospital, and Anderson granted it. The two shook hands, an unorthodox gesture in the military.
His companion Fred Davis offered to help calm the situation on condition that the GIs were able to make formal complaints and the MPs responsible were put under guard. Anderson replied sharply: “You are not dictating to the United States Army.” Davis allowed his fury to show: “My men have been shot down in cold blood,” he said. He told the white officers that the disorder was a good thing if it focused attention on the mistreatment of black soldiers.
Heris addressed the troops directly. “I am with you,” he told them. “So is Pitcher [the absent unit commander]. But we cannot take these things into our own hands.”When the GIs took little notice of his plea, Heris turned to Edwin Jones, the sole black commissioned officer at Adams Hall, and appealed for help. Jones supported him. “Let’s go back to barracks,” he told the fractious crowd. “The guilty ones will suffer; we’ll see that justice is done.” The men listened. Finally, at around midnight, a sense of calm was restored. The soldiers began to file back inside. Heris knew that one truck was still on the loose in town, but the prospect of a substantial mutiny had been averted.
Just then, there was a roar of engines and screeching of brakes. Two jeeps pulled into Adams Hall. Inside were more than twenty MPs. Headlights raked across the yard, dazzling the men who were still outside. On one jeep, a machine gun was prominently mounted. Fear seized the camp. Soldiers ran inside and raised the alarm: “Get up! Arm yourselves. Armoured cars at the gate.” Heris and Anderson remonstrated with the MPs, telling them to turn around and leave, which they eventually agreed to, but by then it was too late. The fear of the troops appeared to be confirmed – the white MPs were bent on killing black soldiers. The soldiers burst into storerooms and seized rifles. Some ran out into the yard and took aim at the invading jeeps. The jeeps retreated and sped away, chased by rifle fire. This time, the black soldiers did not trust that the MPs would leave them alone. They armed themselves, jumped into trucks and headed to town.
We have little detail about what happened over the next few hours - the ‘battle’ itself. Amidst the largely unrecorded chaos one or two moments glint through the darkness. Arthur Laider, the barman at the Queen Hotel, heard gunshots at about 11.15pm, and ventured out to see what was going on. He passed by black GIs, who told him, “You’d better get inside, boss. There’s going to be shooting.” The owner of a fish and chip shop was told “Get inside, there’s going to be war.” A white officer from another town who happened to be driving through Bamber Bridge found his passage blocked by a truck controlled by black soldiers. He heard someone yell “Cut the lights and motor off!” Baffled, he followed the instruction. After waiting for five minutes, the officer tried to drive around the truck but was stopped by a volley of shots, four of which seriously wounded him in the legs. One of the black soldiers drove him to hospital.
Gunfire and shouting kept the inhabitants of Bamber Bridge awake until the early hours, when both sides melted back to their respective camps. Two blacks and one white officer shot and there were other injuries from bottles and fists. There was one fatality: Private William Crosland, who was shot by an MP, died in hospital several days later.
There isn’t much data on racial attitudes among the British prior to the war, but there is little doubt that white Britons held prejudicial attitudes. In 1928, the sociologist Richard LaPiere found that 81% of the British respondents to his survey said they would not be happy to have their children associate with “coloured people”. The sociologist Kenneth Little studied race relations in British towns prior to the arrival of American GIs. Racism, he wrote, was “transmitted as part of the cultural heritage”. But the arrival of GIs ameliorated this prejudice. In answer to a survey question from the Mass Observation Laboratory about “coloured people”, a British respondent answered, “Have wartime events and experiences had any effect on my attitude? The answer is yes. The presence of many more American negroes in this country may make me take less interest [in] them through accepting them as normal and familiar.”
A pair of economists, David Schindler and Mark Westcott, have studied the long-term effects that the presence of black GIs had on white British attitudes towards minorities. They looked at present-day attitudes to minorities in parts of the country which had once played host to American troops, and found evidence of a cultural impact that was transmitted down through generations, into the twenty-first century.
In areas of Britain where black soldiers were stationed, the far-right BNP (British National Party) had fewer members and won a lower share of the vote in local elections from 1973 through to 2012. The researchers also analysed data from an online test of implicit attitudes to race, and found that voters in these areas were less likely to evince negative attitudes to black people.
The “contact hypothesis”, first proposed by the American social psychologist Gordon Allport in 1954, states that the most reliable antidote to prejudice is human interaction. Allport knew that not all social contact promotes tolerance and understanding and set out a number of conditions for it to do so. The different groups have to meet on something like equal terms; if one group is exerting dominance over another, feelings of hostility will only increase. They should be united by some common goal on which they can co-operate, rather than being forced into competition, and they should interact at a personal, face-to-face level, rather than via bureaucratic process.
These conditions were all fulfilled by the contact between black GIs and white Britons during the war. The locals knew that the GIs were here on a temporary basis and so did not feel in competition with them for jobs or public services. The groups shared a common goal – to defeat the Nazis. And they came together in shared, convivial spaces – shops, restaurants, dance halls and pubs.
It is significant that the British were so willing, even eager, to engage in this contact, and that their feelings towards black people were so readily moulded by it. Their prejudices seem to have been relatively superficial and lightly held, in sharp contrast to the white American soldiers, who may have shared a common heritage with the British but who came from a society in which racist stereotypes were systematically reproduced and enforced.
It is sometimes said that British attitudes towards race have been shaped definitively by the country’s history of colonialism, but there was little evidence of that here. Most British whites, who had not encountered black people first-hand before, had not formed fixed attitudes towards them, and were willing to give them the benefit of any doubt. In fact, the evidence suggests that racist attitudes only crystallised after the war, as non-white immigration to the UK increased steeply, and the native population began to feel that they were in a competition for jobs and services. Britain and America were allies because they had much in common, but the Battle of Bamber Bridge exposed their starkly different attitudes towards race and racism.
The US Air Force took action against the men they regarded as mutineers. At two courts martial 27 black soldiers from Adams Hall were found guilty of charges ranging from assault, to illegal possession of weapons, and rioting. Sentences of between three months and fifteen years were handed out, reduced on appeal.
Three weeks after the incident, General Henry J. Miller, one of the commanders responsible for the 1511th Quartermaster Truck Regiment, submitted a report. Miller argued that the “the alleged mutiny was primarily caused by the racial problem and was not created by any failure of command.” He blamed the effect of racial equality in Britain in exacerbating white-black tensions, together with what he called the “extremely low level of intelligence” of black troops. Miller expounded:
“One of the basic reasons for the current racial troubles is the unrealistic manner in which these problems are handled. So long as the natural fact is ignored that all races are not endowed with the same intelligence [note the distorted echo of the Declaration of Independence] and therefore the same standards could not be demanded of them, trouble will multiply. On the other hand when a policy of firm control within the limitations of intelligence is adopted trouble decreases. In the present instance the fostering of a weak apologetic attitude to a dependent race can have disastrous results.”
Attitudes like this were common though not universal among white US soldiers. David Reynolds quotes from two responses to a military questionnaire in 1942, both from soldiers stationed at the same base. One wrote, “Negro troops have the girls coming down to camp and call for them. If anything will make a Southern’s blood run hot it is to see this happen…If it keeps on going as it is we will have a nice negro lynching down here and then things will be better.” Another wrote, “Actually what is taking place in our army today is nothing more disgraceful than what Hitler is doing to minorities in Germany. I joined the American Army to fight against the persecution of minorities. I resent that our Army actually practices the same type of persecution.”
Miller’s superior took a very different position to him. Air Force commander General Eaker told his staff that “90 percent of the trouble with Negro troops was the fault of the whites,” and that the problem was that black troops had been made to feel excluded from the American war effort. A new command structure was set up to oversee black trucking and supply units across Britain. The “Combat Support Wing” (named by Eaker to enhance the sense of its importance) was put under the command of Colonel George Grubb. Grubb weeded out the most racist white officers and recruited those he trusted to treat black soldiers decently. He improved the facilities at bases and took pains to explain to his troops why their work mattered to the larger effort. He instructed company commanders to schedule time each day to learn about the personal background of his soldiers, giving at least fifteen minutes to each and showing interest in and sympathy for their problems. Within a few months, his efforts showed results. Performance and morale of the black units steeply improved, and misconduct reports fell drastically.
Grubb concluded that when black soldiers were properly led they performed to a standard that was as high if not superior to their white counterparts. He noted that his men had been “well received by the communities which they habitually visit. Many of them have been entertained in the homes of British civilians. In general, the negro troops are more courteous and better mannered than the white troops.”
In 2013, the University of Central Lancashire hosted a symposium on “the Battle of Bamber Bridge”. It was jointly organised by Professor Rice and Clinton Smith, who is chair of the Preston Black History Group. Smith’s parents immigrated from the Caribbean to Britain in the 1950s. Now retired, he used to visit Bamber Bridge often in his job as a maintenance worker but knew nothing about the incident. One day he was in the town in the company of a colleague and local resident when he noticed that the wooden casing of the door to a bank on the high street was speckled with holes. “I see you’ve got some big termites, here,” he joked. “They’re not termites,” his colleague replied. “They’re bullet holes. From the war.”
Smith immediately began mentally riffling through different possibilities. The Battle of Preston, a Jacobite uprising in 1715? No, too early for guns. Unable to guess, he asked his colleague, who told him a little about what had taken place in 1943. There the conversation ended, but in years to follow Smith repeatedly found himself returning to the story. “It was like a dream that just kept coming back and said I’m not going to go away until you do something about me,” he told me.
Eventually, he brought it up with Alan Rice during a meeting in 2011 to discuss black history projects, in Rice’s office at the University of Central Lancashire (Rice is a historian who specialises in transatlantic black history and culture). Rice’s eyes lit up. The Battle of Bamber Bridge was one his pet interests. There and then the two men decided to mark the event’s 70th anniversary, then 18 months away. The symposium was a success, and subsequently the Battle of Bamber Bridge has become better known, internationally and in the town itself, where there is a plan to mount a permanent memorial to it outside the Hob Inn.
“We talk about black history, but it’s also everybody’s history,” Smith told me. “It’s black history because they were the people being oppressed; it’s everybody’s history because of the stance the people of Bamber Bridge took, against the might of the American military.”
It is the local resistance to American racism that fascinates and compels Smith. I asked him what he thought was behind it. He noted the courtesy and politeness of the black soldiers, in contrast to the brashness of the white American military, which made the villagers warm to them. But ultimately, they didn’t like the US military attempting to impose an alien system of discrimination on their community. “They were saying, this is our backyard - you can’t come here and tell us what to do.” They felt an instinctive solidarity with the black soldiers: “It was almost a mill town thing, workers against bosses. They’re no different to us, so we’ll stand shoulder-to-shoulder.”
“It was so far in front – it predates any activity around race relations. I don’t think the word ‘racism’ was at the forefront of the villagers’ minds. They didn’t see themselves as campaigners. They just saw a wrong, and they made a decision that they couldn’t in all conscience stand by and let it happen without saying or doing something about it.”
I first became interested in the Battle of Bamber Bridge after reading Alan Rice’s article for The Conversation. Other sources include:
Black and British: A Forgotten History, David Olusoga.
Rich Relations: The American Occupation of Britain 1942-1945, David Reynolds.
When Jim Crow Met John Bull: Black American Soldiers In World War II Britain, Graham Smith
Mutiny at Army Air Force Station 569: Bamber Bridge, England, June 1943, Aerospace Historian, Vol.22 No.4., 1975, Kenneth P. Werrell.
The study of racial attitudes I refer to: Shocking Racial Attitudes: Black GIs in Europe, Schindler and Westcott, The Review of Economic Studies, Vol.88, Issue 1, 2020.
Clinton Smith runs Preston Black History Group.
Finally, I haven’t read Kate Werran’s recent book on a similar incident in Cornwall but it looks fascinating: An American Uprising in Second World War England.