Swapping stockings for kisses and teaching girls how to jive, American GIs were meant to be a welcome ray of sunshine in war-torn Europe.
But a new book has revealed the dark side of Europe’s liberation after the Second World War.
Professor Mary Louise Roberts, from the University of Wisconsin, said within months of D-Day ordinary French women came to fear their American ‘liberators’.
She tells how, by the summer of 1944, large numbers of women in Normandy filed complaints about rapes by US soldiers.
And their arrival prompted a wave of crime all over France, with American soldiers caught committing robberies and petty thefts.
Professor Roberts said: ‘My book seeks to debunk an old myth about the GI, thought of as a manly creature that always behaved well. The GIs were having sex anywhere and everywhere.
‘In the cities of Le Havre and Cherbourg, bad behaviour was common.
‘Women, including those who were married, were openly solicited for sex. Parks, bombed-out buildings, cemeteries and railway tracks were carnal venues.
‘People could not go out for a walk without seeing somebody having sex.
‘But the sex was not always consensual, with hundreds of cases of rape being reported.’
The locals of Le Havre were shocked by the soldiers’ behaviour and wrote letters of protest to their mayor.