Boxers in the ETO
During World War Two, the British Island was ‘invaded’ by American servicemen. Lot’s of them. For the Air Force men, flying missions was their job. And there were lots of times that there were no missions. All the men, including the men who made it possible that missions were flown, like clercks, cooks, mechanics etc. needed time to relax.
The British pubs were one way to do other thing then army life. The military organized film evenings and parties. And USO Shows were biggerevents.
The 438th Troop Carrier Group, based at Greenham Common, was visited twice by famous boxers.
Joe Louis made a personal visit on May 1, 1944 and had a program of personnel interviews, photography and a tour of the base was carried out.
The Billy Conn Boxing Show made an appearance at Greenham Common on 26 June 1944. This show was held in the East Hangar which provided ample room for everyone to see the show. This office provided seats for well over 800. the show was well attended. Special attraction to the show was the music played by the 502nd Paratrooper 14 piece dance band. Immediately after the show, the Billy Conn Show was taken to the Combat EM Mess for dinner. Later in the evening, everyone of the show was introduces to the gathering at the EM dance at the Aero Club. Lt. M. Schwartz, Special Service officer in charge of the show, introduced them over the P.A. System.
Top: Joe Louis, standing in the middle, at the base.
Left: Billy Conn on his tour over Greenham Common. He’s explained some details on the planes. (P. Fell)