Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

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rcocean
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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by rcocean » 05 Nov 2021 18:51

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
04 Nov 2021 02:12
The SS is its own moral category but snearing at/laughing at/humiliating black soldiers? Nobody did that better and more often than Americans.
When did US soldiers "Laugh or Humiliate" Black soldiers? Got any specifics? Or is this just speculation.

To get back to more fact based history. Per the WW 2 US Army history in its "Employment of Negro Troops", there was considerable resentment REPORTED by white troops that blacks were not being used more in combat. There was also unhappiness among whites that blacks weren't being drafted in equal percentages. Meanwhile, blacks were unhappy they were denied officer slots or technical jobs. BTW many black CIVILIANS pushed for more black combat troops, but I see no evidence that the average Black soldier was upset at not being sent to the Infantry.

Integration of the US Army should have occured much sooner and would have avoided these problems.

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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 Nov 2021 20:08

rcocean wrote:
05 Nov 2021 18:51
When did US soldiers "Laugh or Humiliate" Black soldiers?
But what Trimmingham and his companions saw as they looked out at the lunchroom from inside that kitchen defied even their weary expectations. About two dozen German prisoners of war who entered with their American guards “sat at the tables, had their meals served, talked, smoked, in fact had quite a swell time.” In an April 1944 letter to Yank, a weekly Army magazine, Trimmingham asked the obvious: “Are these men”— Nazi troops who’d been captured while fighting on Hitler’s behalf—“sworn enemies of this country? Are we not American soldiers, sworn to fight for and die if need be for this our country? Then why are they treated better than we are?”

it was common during World War II for the U.S. Army to treat German Prisoners of War better than Black American soldiers.

In February 1944, a Black soldier named Bert Babero wrote in a letter that a POW camp in Texas segregated “a section of the latrine for Negro soldiers, the other being used by the German prisoners and the white soldiers,” thereby placing “the tyrant…over the liberator.” At least two camps in Mississippi treated POWs to “white” latrines and water fountains as well. More than 50 years later, in his 1997 book A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman, Charles W. Dryden recalled a visit to a base in South Carolina, where German POWs could go “into the ‘White’ side of the post exchange cafeteria and WE COULD NOT!”

This preferential treatment of German POWs seemed, at times, specifically designed to humiliate Black soldiers. In 2004, the historian Matthias Reiss published a study of letters by Black soldiers that document this reality. At Camp Gordon Johnston, in the Florida Panhandle, Black servicemen reported that they were assigned to “dispose of the human waste of the whole camp,” including that of the POWs

The white officers, meanwhile, responded that “colored BOYS are not allowed to detail or work prisoners of war”; another soldier in Florida reported a similar hierarchy on base, where Black men “were constantly guarded by armed guards” even if their offenses were minor, “while the Nazis arrogantly walk around this field free and scoff at us.”

Source
Discrimination toward black troops came not just from white soldiers but also the highest rungs of the military ladder, including commanders who expressed their resentment of black service members for being a part of the occupation, bitter that blacks were allowed to represent America during the occupation. As Höhn notes in her book, Gen. Joseph T. McNarney, the military governor of the American zone from 1945 to 1947, said that it would take 100 years before “the Negro will develop to the point where he will be on a parity with white Americans.” Unsurprisingly, no African-Americans served on his staff in Frankfurt, Höhn wrote.

Peter Grammer, who retired from the Army as a master sergeant, recalled when his father, Oscar Grammer, a chief warrant officer, was stationed in Mannheim in the early 1950s. “I was with my dad in the car and he drove on post where he worked,” he said, referencing the military base. “The sentry at the gate didn’t salute him.”

In some towns, white soldiers threatened to boycott German businesses if they continued to serve black troops. And it wasn’t uncommon for white military police to take their batons to African-American G.I.s if they refused to leave an establishment.

“There were white troops that were probably almost as hateful towards black American soldiers as they were toward their German enemy.”

Source
Those are all from just two articles. Google the issue and you'll find plenty more.

The US was a forcibly, violently apartheid country in the 1940's. That of course extended to our military. Doesn't make us as bad as the Nazis but there's no point denying this.
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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by rcocean » 05 Nov 2021 20:55

The US was a forcibly, violently apartheid country in the 1940's. That of course extended to our military. Doesn't make us as bad as the Nazis but there's no point denying this.
Thanks for sources!

The USA - at least in the South and the border states - was a SEGREGATED country. The USA was certainly not "apartheid". And of course, "Force" and "Violence" are inherent in any social system. Good or bad. One could argue that "Antifa" is a forcible and violent method of enforcing "anti-racism" in the USA today. Hate crime legislation is also a method of force/violence. One can approve, but that's what it is.

As for the Nazis, I don't think the Germans gave blacks - who they thought inferior - much thought. IRC, African POWs that fought for the French were treated as well - or as poorly - as other French Soldiers. No doubt if black soldiers had been more of a threat to the Nazis, the response would've been much more drastic.
Last edited by rcocean on 05 Nov 2021 21:26, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 Nov 2021 21:03

rcocean wrote:One could argue that "Antifa" is a forcible and violent method of enforcing "anti-racism" in the USA today.
Sometimes force is necessary and justified. ;)

[ok let's not get into contemporary politics]
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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 06 Nov 2021 14:05

So the "Black Panther" tank battalion and the "Tuskegee airmen" were exceptional?

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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by rcocean » 06 Nov 2021 18:35

Cult Icon wrote:
06 Nov 2021 14:05
So the "Black Panther" tank battalion and the "Tuskegee airmen" were exceptional?
The 761st Tank battalion compiled an exceptional record. The two black TD/Tank battalions in Italy and the ETO 614th TD and 784th Tank did well. The 827th however, performed so poorly it pulled out of combat.

It should be noted that in 1945 Ike called for black service troops to serve as infantry and (all round numbers) 5,000 soldiers answered his call. Over 2,000 were given training, organized into 36-37 overstrength infantry platoons and in March/April 1945 commited to combat. The platoons were distributed amongst 36 Infantry battalions. Per Official Army History, they performed well and their good performance was a factor in the Army desegregating in 1948.

You also had several Black artillery and AAA battalions. One the 3334th suffered over 250 causualites during the Ardennes offensive. How many of those were POW's wasn't stated.

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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by Sheldrake » 07 Nov 2021 14:27

rcocean wrote:
31 Oct 2021 16:40
The number of AA POW's was miniscule. The number of AA KIA's was tiny. Except for a few AA infantry platoons which came into existance due to the Late 44 and 1945 manpower crunch, the only AA infantry used in Europe, served in Italy with the 92nd Division. Even that was a bit of a disaster, with Marshall intervening and disbanding 2 of the 3 infantry regiments and replacing them with 442 Neisi and a newly formed white regiment drawn from disbanded AAA units. IRC, the only AA combat units in the ETO were a few TD/Armor battalions and Artillery units.
I knew of the 333rd. They were reoinforcing artillery behind the 106 Infantry Division's regiments on the Schnee Eiffel and overun on 16-17th Dec. Part of the unit withdrew spouth west to Bastogne where they were one of the few medium artillery units inside the siege.

Re the 92nd. They werre replaced in the line by another segregated formation, one of the British Indian Divisions. One British officer was heard saying something to the effect that if you want native (segregated) troops to fight well, the soldiers must feel pride in their military heritage and culture. Whatever the faults of the British Empire, and there are many, Those British officers who served with native troops had a great deal of affection for their soldiers, and pride in their prowess, which was reflected by the regard which they were held wthin the rest of the army. Twenty years ago I met a man who commanded troops raised in West Africa who formed one of the Chindit columns operatign behind the lines in Burma. He could not speak too highly of the Africans who he led.

One paradox is that the US Army could not function effectivley without its black soldiers.The British were aware of the potential problems of deploying a segregated American force in the UK. Although the British Empire was segegrated on racial lines, there was no colour bar in the home country. There was lots of racism and racists, but legally there was no colour bar. IRRC an offer was made for the US to only deploy white soldiers to the UK, but this was declined because of the depemndence across the US Armed Forces on black troops for musch of its support services. E.g. the Postal service in ETOUSA was a all femail black unit. The trucks that supported the Eighth Air Force were laergely driven by black men.

By and large ther British liked black american servicemen. They were untypical americans - with american virtues but without the sterotypical brashness or arrogance. There are several accounts of local brits turning outin support of black servicemen when there were altercations with white US servicemen. E.g. some of the black USAAC service units had been based in nottinghamshire since 1942. Then the all white 82nd AB Division appeared in late 1943.

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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by rcocean » 07 Nov 2021 18:26

You make some good points. The difference between indian and west african troops in Burma and AA troops in the 92nd Infantry division is that the AA troops were draftees not volunteers. It should be also noted that the Non-infantry elements of the Division performed well. This is what George Marshall radioed Eisenhower on Feb 14th 1945 (from Marshall papers):

The 92nd Division, holding 22 miles on the left of the Fifth Army front in ITALY, has been given a final tryout in a 3 day local offensive, heavily supported by air, plentiful ammunition and tanks. It met little opposition in most parts of the front but the Infantry literally dissolved each night abandoning equipment and even clothing in some cases. The Artillery appears excellent, also the Engineers, and other divisional troops. The command and staff are superior. But as matters now stand, the division is not only of little value but weakens the front by necessitating the putting of other divisions in rear to provide the necessary security against a local German thrust through to LEGHORN and supply lines, divisions that should be otherwise disposed in the center of the Army.

The non-divisional African American (AA) artillery and Anti-Aircraft Battalions in the ETO and MTO also did well.

I'm not surprised the British liked black American servicemen. In general, The British seem to have a soft spot for people of color, as shown by the immigration of large numbers of Africans and Carribean blacks to the UK after WW2, and the current very strict Anti-racist laws.

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Re: Aaafrican American PowS December 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2021 20:04

rcocean wrote:
06 Nov 2021 18:35
The 827th however, performed so poorly it pulled out of combat.
The account of the 827th Tank Destroyer's experience in Lee's The Employment of Negro Troops is interesting and raises some questions. While you would expect that Ulysses Grant Lee Jr., a black Army officer and graduate of Howard University, to be unprejudiced, so much of the account of the 827th appears based upon hearsay and rumors rather than facts, when compared to various unit records.

For example,

"The S-3, an officer of longer service with the unit, shared this opinion. The commander, a field artillery Reserve officer generally assigned to staff duties before coming to the 827th, was convinced upon receiving his assignment and checking into the training history and qualifications of the battalion that he had been given a mission that would lead to the conversion or inactivation of his unit.

The battalion, whose training career had been analyzed and found wanting by previous commanders, had had about two and a half years of training in the United States, but under unusual circumstances. By the time it moved overseas, it had had eight different commanders, more than one of whom had recommended that the battalion be made a service unit. It had been organized and reorganized under four different tables of organization and equipment. It was re-equipped with primary weapons four times. Starting its career with towed 75-mm. tank destroyers, it changed successively to self-propelled M-10's, then to towed 3-inch destroyers, and finally to self-propelled M18's. These changes, normal as tank destroyer theories and weapons changed and improved, involved the disbandment and reconstitution of the battalion reconnaissance company, a unit which, in its final form, was looked upon by the battalion's officers as especially inefficient. It went through the experience of having its original white junior officers replaced by Negro officers who, upon the arrival of one of the unit's commanders, were blamed for most of the battalion's difficulties. The Negro officers were later removed and replaced by a new staff of white junior officers, many of whom came from other inactivated Negro tank destroyer units and who were therefore already predisposed to a jaundiced view of their new unit's future. The new white officers were no more successful, whereupon it was determined that the enlisted men; with their extremely low AGCT scores, and not their officers, were primarily at fault." (pp. 679-680)

The battalion was actually constituted as a Tank Destroyer Battalion 15 March 1942, with a cadre of 16 white officers and 77 black EM from the 4th Cavalry and the 4th Cavalry Brigade. It was activated as a Heavy, Self-propelled, Tank Destroyer Battalion (a mixed organization of Heavy M3 and Light M6 GMC) on 24 April 1942. It spent the period until 22 August 1942 conducting basic training of incoming EM and then left for Camp Hood for TD training 2-4 September 1942, arriving with a strength of 25 officers and 653 EM. At Hood, it went through the 12-week introductory tactical and administration course, followed by range training, completing its initial training cycle in December, when it was notified it would be assigned as "School Troops" at Hood. During its training, the battalion was recognized as completing the range course "creditably" and established the record among units at the time for .30 caliber MG score. The battalion also received a commendation from the CO of the Advanced Unit Training Center for its overall record on the range, which was "unquestionably good", especially its performance on the Tank Hunting Range.

In January 1943, the battalion completed its initial and advanced training and in February was formally assigned as part of the Tank Destroyer Center School Troops Brigade. At the same time, it gave up a cadre of 5 officers and 83 EM to activate the 649th TD Battalion. The battalion was also notified to prepare for conversion to a Towed Gun Battalion. In March 1943, the battalion furnished a further 6 officers and 90 EM to the 649th TD Battalion and took in its first 23 black officers, all 1st and 2d lieutenants, who were assigned mostly as Platoon Leaders.

On 4 June 1943, the battalion was reorganized as a Towed TD Battalion, which resulted in the inactivation of the Reconnaissance Company. However, on 20 July 1943, it was reorganized again, as a Self-Propelled TD Battalion (M10), was relieved from its duties as School Troops, and was assigned to the Advanced Unit Training Center for six weeks of refresher TD training on the M10 that extended into September. At the conclusion, it was rated by the IG as "generally unsatisfactory", which was the first downgrade recorded for the unit.

The battalion then made a PCS to Fort Huachuca, where it joined the 93d Infantry Division in maneuvers and continued training, through 31 December 1943, when it was notified to Prepare for Overseas Movement (POM). During December 1943 and January 1944, POM activities continued, and the battalion conducted schools of indirect fire for the month of January, concluding with all officers and Platoon Sergeants firing all three indirect fire problems. During the period, officers and enlisted men were transferred out and replaced by others, which was a normal part of the POM.

However, in February, the POM was cancelled and the battalion returned to Fort Huachuca, arriving there 29 February. While there, it exchanged its M10 for the brand new M18. It remained Huachuca, training, until notified of POM and movement to the NYPOE in October 1944, followed by movement to Europe 3 November 1944 and its arrival on 13 November 1944.

Fundamentally, NONE of any of that was really "unusual", as Lee expressed it, for any Tank Destroyer units organized prior to 1943. All of them went through numerous changes of organization as the TD doctrine and equipment changed. As a SP unit it had 36 officers, while as a Towed unit it had 32, its accession of 23 black officers in March 1943, brought it up to strength in junior officers after 11 officers had been transferred to other units, but it did not represent "having its original white junior officers replaced by Negro officers". Nor is there any evidence that the black officers "were later removed and replaced by a new staff of white junior officers" from any source.

The account of its combat service also appears exaggerated for effect. There is no mention in any of the battalion records of sergeants shooting officers or vice versa or of drunkenness or wandering about - there is no record of an officer or EM casualty of any type on 6 January. Its initial entry into combat does not appear any different from that of any other green unit, especially during the chaotic battles around Hatten in January during NORDWIND. However, it did receive a strong commendation from the XXI Corps for its role in the Colmar Pocket during February.

Overall, I have the suspicion that much of Lee's account was prejudiced by the opinions of officers at the time...I would be very interested in seeing the actual 15-19 January "Report of Investigation by VI Corps.
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