The first American G.I. to step off the plank and plant his foot on British soil was Pfc. Milburn H. Henke of the 34th Infantry Division; and as the news spread throughout all of John Bull's island that help had arrived and the first guy had a German surname, the Brits (always big fans of irony) had a good laugh all around.
This article tells the tale of the 1st Battalion, 34th Division which had the distinction of being the longest serving U.S. combat unit in the course of the entire war. It was these men of the Mid-West who took it on the chin that day at Kasserine (America's first W.W. II battle, which was a defeat), avenged their dead at El Guettar, landed at Salerno, Anzio and fought their way up to Bologna. By the time the war ended, there weren't many of the original men left, but what few there were reminisce in this article. Interesting gripes about the problems of American uniforms can be read.