Chapter XV
 
Overseas Deployment And The Nature Of Units
 
An additional practical consideration in the employment of Negro troops, hardly foreseen in Army mobilization plans, developed in the first year of active operations. Placing Negro units in camps within the continental limits of the United States was a constant problem to the Army, but, beginning in early 1942, assigning them overseas gradually assumed an air of high international intrigue. Combat units were more seriously affected by this development than service units, but all types of Negro units were affected by the problem of overseas deployment.
 
Establishing a Policy
 
After Pearl Harbor, General Headquarters compiled a list of units considered ready for overseas use at once or expected to be ready in the near future. These included a number of Negro units.1 But from early 1942 on,
it became a matter of common knowledge within the General Staff that no matter what the state of readiness of Negro units happened to be, the steadily increasing number of American units departing for overseas locations would not include any large number of Negro troops until the War Department established a definite policy on their assignment and use overseas. Once established, carrying out such a policy continued to be a problem, increasingly localized as decisions on particular areas were made, but lasting up to the end of the war. The question extended beyond considerations of military utility, except in the broadest sense. It was a compound of the overseas commander's desire to avoid racial troubles in his area, of fears that the Negro units would be less adaptable and less efficient than white units of similar types, and of the objections of foreign governments and local authorities.
 
By March 1942, G-3 of the War Department wanted to know who was re-
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sponsible for maintaining liaison with the State Department on those phases of the question which had become enmeshed in international relations. Brig. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, then chief of the War Plans Division, replied that lie was maintaining such a liaison. The problem was proving exceedingly difficult, he explained, for, as yet, he had found no foreign country where Negro troops would be welcomed. The War Plans Division, he said, had finally decided to send both Negro and white troops together as American troops without indicating to the authorities at their destination what their racial composition was.2
 
Though such a policy would have insured the shipment of Negro units overseas it alone was no solution, for certain areas, including American territories, were already requesting the withdrawal of Negro troops who had been sent overseas and others were requesting that none at all be sent. Reasons for the opposition of local authorities ranged from fear of miscegenation and an increase of economic unrest among local populations because of the higher rates of pay of American Negro troops to purely political considerations in countries with exclusion laws.
 
Governors of British West Indian and Atlantic possessions on which American bases were located were especially apprehensive lest the balance of colonial authority be disturbed by the arrival of well-paid and well-clothed American Negro troops. A delegation from Bermuda, in Washington to confer upon the establishment of the American base there, urged that no Negro troops be sent to their islands. The 99th Antiaircraft Regiment, scheduled to be part of the garrison for Trinidad, met opposition from local British authorities, whereupon the Caribbean commander, Maj. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, recommended that a white unit be sent in its place. St. Lucia wanted neither continental Negro nor Puerto Rican troops.
 
Elsewhere Australia, whose "White Australia" immigration policy dated back to the establishment of the Commonwealth at the turn of the century and even farther back in some of its states, informed the War Department through the Australian Embassy in Washington that it would not agree to the dispatch of more Negro troops to Australian territory. This position was later modified to permit a limited number to enter, with the stipulation that they were to be withdrawn at the end of the Australian emergency. The Australian situation was complicated by clashes between Negro and white soldiers in which the American commander, Lt. Gen. George H. Brett, felt the civilian population might become involved. General Brett recommended the withdrawal of all Negro troops. Both Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, of the Western Defense Command, and Governor Ernest Gruening of Alaska informally opposed sending Negro troops to Alaska, with Governor Gruening stating that he felt the mixing of Negroes with the native Indians and Eskimos would be highly undesirable. The Air Forces requested that no Negroes of any branch be sent to Iceland, Greenland, or Labrador. Panama requested the withdrawal of a signal construction company sent
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to the Canal Zone in the fall of 1941.3 Chile and Venezuela advised the State Department that Negro coast artillery units would not be accepted there. The special representative to Liberia, Col. Harry McBride, advised that colored troops would not be satisfactory there, since their rate of pay would place them in a preferred status with reference to the local population. Even within the United States commanders preferred to avoid using Negro troops in defense positions.
 
Secretary Stimson made short shrift of the objections. Of Alaska and Trinidad he commented, "Don't yield," and, again, "No, don't yield." To the Australian proposal and to Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger's suggestion that the use of Negro troops in his Southern Defense Command be avoided because of the probability of race riots, he answered with a flat "No." On the Panama request he commented, "Tell them they must complete their work-It is ridiculous to raise such objections when the Panama Canal itself was built with black labor." On Iceland, Greenland, and Labrador he mused, "Pretty cold for blacks" and on the proposal for Liberia he replied, "Nonsense." But for Chile and Venezuela he established it principle that was to last through most of the war when he commented, "As we are the petitioners here we probably must comply."4
 
G-1 proceeded to draw up a policy for the employment of Negro troops overseas which provided that they would not be employed in extreme northern stations and that they would not be utilized in a country against that country's will when the United States had requested the right to station troops in the country concerned. In all other cases, Negro troops would be dispatched without prior request for agreement on the part of the theater or other commander and without notation as to the color or race of personnel.5
 
No other staff agency concurred fully with the G-1 recommendations as originally written. Newer developments and existing regulations were involved in some of the non-concurrences. Services of Supply, G-2, and G-3 recommended that the theater commanders be notified of the racial composition of shipments so that "proper arrangements" might be made for their reception. Army Air Forces objected that the retention of the proportionate repre-
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sentation rule in the United States without a corresponding rule for overseas shipments would leave larger proportions of Negro troops in the United States for whom neither proper uses, stations, assignments, nor controllable percentages would be possible.6 The War Plans Division, now redesignated the Operations Division (OPD), agreed with this objection.
 
The Operations Division had another reason for withholding concurrence. A message had been received from London, over General Marshall's name, stating that Negro units should not be sent to the British Isles at all.7 This would alter entirely any policy being considered, for it was to the United Kingdom that large numbers of American units, including the very necessary aviation and general service engineers, were to be sent under the BOLERO plan. After it developed that the staff message had been sent without General Marshall's knowledge, the Operations Division determined that in planning troop shipments for the British Isles, Negro service troops would be included in "reasonable proportions." 8 G-3 now objected to the new phrasing of the revised policy directive, for the Chief of Staff had by then (25 April) decided that there would be no positive restriction on the use of Negro troops in Great Britain, while the Operations Division was preparing to limit their use to the services. As finally issued, on 13 May 1942, tile policy directive contained the original provision plus the stipulation: "There will be no positive restrictions on the use of colored troops in the British Isles, but shipment of colored units to the British Isles will be limited, initially, to those in the service categories." Theater commanders would be informed of orders moving Negro troops to their commands but they would not be asked to agree to their shipment beforehand. The policy provided as well that the commanding generals of Army Air Forces, Ground Forces, and Services of Supply would "insure" that Negro troops were ordered overseas in a proportion not less than their percentage in each command.9
 
Developing Practices
 
Settling upon a policy for the deployment of Negro troops overseas did not solve the problem of either their overseas locations or use. Theater commanders were still responsible for committing troops to action either in combat or in combat support. They still determined, in large measure, the types and numbers of units which they required. Their requests received the greatest attention of the War Department and of its Operations Division, whose function it was to see to it that the
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theaters had the units and personnel needed to accomplish their missions. Theater commanders were known to cancel or reduce requests for certain types of units when informed that only Negro units were available. The Theater Group of Operations Division followed the practice, which (as pointed out by Brig. Gen. Patrick H. Tansey, Chief of its Logistics Group) was directly contrary to War Department policy, of asking theater commanders specifically if they "could use" or if they "desired" certain Negro units as substitutes for white units with a lesser degree of availability.10 Commanders could still request the deletion of Negro units from movement orders. Often they could get compliance from the War Department, for few felt that the War Department could or should dictate to theater commanders in such a matter.11 There were always some commanders who, like Lt. Gen. Delos C. Emmons in Hawaii, stated that while they were disturbed by the potential problems implied for their areas, they realized the problem facing the War Department and would therefore accept their proportion of Negro units.12 Similarly, when General Marshall asked General Douglas MacArthur, as Supreme Commander in Australia and the Philippines, for his personal attitude and recommendations on the proposal from Australia that no more Negro troops be sent there and that those already there either be returned to the United States or moved on to New Caledonia or India, General MacArthur replied:
 
I will do everything possible to prevent friction or resentment on the part of the Australian government and people at the presence of American colored troops replying your nine one seven. Their policy of exclusion against everyone except the white race known locally as the "White Australia" plan is universally supported here. The labor situation is also more acute perhaps than any place in the world. I believe however by utilizing these troops in the front zones away from great centers of population that I can minimize the difficulties involved and yet use to advantage those already dispatched. Please disabuse yourself of any idea that I might return these troops after your decision to dispatch them. You may be assured of my complete loyalty and devotion and my absolute acceptance of any decisions that you may make. I visualize completely that there are basic policies which while contrary to the immediate circumstances of a local area are absolutely necessary from the higher perspective and viewpoint. You need never have a doubt as to my fulfilling to the maximum of my ability whatever directive I may receive.13
 
But the willing acceptance of a racial problem additional to those already confronting theater commanders was not likely. Subordinate staffs often found ways to avoid accepting Negro units. Therefore, the rate of movement of Negro units overseas was slow, too slow to satisfy the military agencies in the zone
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of interior who were responsible for the training and housing of Negro units, too slow to satisfy the agencies of the War Department who had to placate Negro groups and their sympathizers who kept inquiring about the use of Negroes overseas, too slow to satisfy congressmen and residents of areas which had sent large numbers of white and relatively few Negro soldiers overseas, and too slow to satisfy the Operations Division and the major commands that had to fill overseas requisitions from the troops and units available.
 
At the time the policy on the overseas movement of Negro troops was established, only 15,679 Negro troops were overseas, with 1,459 en route and 22,629 proposed for overseas destinations.14 Though the actual number overseas more than tripled by the end of 1942, the percentage of Negroes overseas was still considerably less than proportionate to their over-all strength in the Army.15 The likelihood of solving the problem of the adequate use of Negro troops overseas seemed so slight in the spring of 1942 that The Inspector General, Maj. Gen. Virgil L. Peterson, and Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, then his assistant, questioned the wisdom of continuing to train and equip Negro units which could not be used in the various theaters. The major current effort had to be directed toward providing combat forces. Later, when new fronts opened, when requirements on existing fronts were increased, and when the United States was likely to have a freer hand in the employment of units, they counseled, Ne-
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gro troops might be more readily used. In the meantime, they suggested that activation of Negro units be retarded until more places to use them were developed.16 With the concurrent pressures of Selective Service and the need to supply more and more units to receive Negro selectees, this suggestion, though it would have helped solve the problem of overseas deployment, could not be followed.
 
For the remainder of 1942 the question of the deployment of Negro troops overseas continued to be a major factor contributing to the over-all problem of their general employment and placement in units. So long as few Negro units were ready for overseas shipment and so long as the heavy build-up of American forces overseas was still in the future the full solution of the problem could be deferred. But with nearly a million American troops going overseas in 1942 and with the prospect of a ten million-man Army in the offing, the question could not lie dormant for long. The task force planned for Liberia in the late summer or early fall of 1942 was expected to take care of a number of Negro units,17 but no comparable grouping of Negro troops was planned for any other area.
 
Staff Approaches and Surveys
 
During June 1942 the G-2 Division produced two papers on the use of Negro troops overseas, one on the Caribbean and one on other areas. The Caribbean paper suggested that local populations did not "look with favor upon the use of American negro troops on their soil," as evidenced by riots in Trinidad and Panama involving Negro troops and in Jamaica, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, and British Guiana between white and nonwhite elements of the local population. The paper asserted that there were no military reasons for stationing Negro troops in the tropics and that there were grave political and psychological disadvantages to doing so:
 
Our colored troops have a higher standard of living than the native colored troops and populations. In some instances the pay of colored troops is more than that of white foreign troops. The local authorities try to keep the native populations contented with a low standard of living. Obviously, a situation will be created which will result in an unfavorable comparison which is bound to cause local disturbances. Before the arrival of colored troops at sortie bases, the white and native populations were getting along well. Trouble arose as soon as our colored troops disembarked . . . .
 
Therefore, G-2 recommended, no Negro troops should be sent to the Caribbean or "anywhere in Latin America."18
 
To this reasoning the Operations Division, using Stimson's comments and the newly adopted policy on overseas movements to bolster its refusal to recommend changes in the policy of using Negro troops "wherever they can be used in [the] Caribbean,"19 replied that there was no record of "any considerable difficulties" in the use of Negro troops then in the Caribbean. A concession to the Panama Government on tile removal of
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the Negro signal unit upon the completion of its job had been made, "in the interest of completing defense site agreements with Panama." This was done "purely as a compromise"; it was distinctly not desired by Secretary Stimson. On the political-economic question, the Operations Divisions observed:
 
While it is true that our colored troops have a higher standard of living than the native colored troops and populations and a higher wage scale than white foreign troops, it is pointed out that our white troops also are on a higher and entirely different living standard than the troops and much of the population, white or native, of countries in the Caribbean and South America. The sense of this paragraph seems to be that the War Department should defer military necessity in favor of meeting the desires of local authorities to maintain conditions which are diametrically opposite to those which the President has gone on record as stating to be the American ideals. It is believed, therefore, that any concessions which the War Department is forced to make should be held to a minimum.20
 
The Operations Division decided that there were three good military reasons for sending Negro troops to the Caribbean: (1) ". . . this theater, as well as all others, should absorb its proportionate part of the colored units now in existence or to be organized"; (2) Negroes are "peculiarly adaptable to tropic as opposed to more rigorous climates"; and (3) since the requirements for general efficiency in the Caribbean will not be so great as in the more active theaters and since Negro units are generally less efficient than white units, they can be employed in the Caribbean to release white troops for other theaters.21 Each of these reasons would be advanced later in support of deploying Negro troops to other overseas areas.
 
Later in June G-2 produced a general survey which considered the attitudes of native populations, the local political, economic, and psychological disadvantages for the allied nations, and the possible action to be taken in normal as opposed to emergency situations in the employment of Negro troops in overseas areas. Greenland and Iceland disliked all foreigners, the paper said, and difficulties between their civilians and American white troops had already occurred. "Since the natives are totally unfamiliar with negroes, it is probable that they would regard them with even greater hostility," G-2 reasoned. The government and people of Canada and Newfoundland "recognize the necessity for us to send United States troops, regardless of color, to their territory," and no serious difficulties should be expected in these countries. Nor should there be "basic factors" precluding sending Negro troops to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, since "the American negro troops stationed in England during the World War created no unsolvable problems, and they were generally well treated." The British and French Pacific islands should raise no legitimate objections. On the other hand, British India, where "political difficulties . . . are of an especially complicated and grave nature," Australia, which maintained "a sharp color line," and New Zealand, which did not have a color line between whites and Maoris and did not wish to create one, should receive Negro troops only with the ac-
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quiescence of their governments. Negro troops should be sent to Australia and New Zealand only in an emergency and for a limited period. "Their presence," G-2 felt, "would undoubtedly build up hostility to the United States throughout Australia." From the Middle East, British West Africa, British East Africa, the Belgian Congo, and French Equatorial Africa, no objections save the economic should be received. "Minor difficulties may arise, however, due to the French and Belgian custom of handling their colored troops with greater strictness than their white troops." Liberia, "being a colored nation," could have no objection other than the economic, but in South Africa, "the appearance of American negro troops would undoubtedly further influence the very ticklish political situation in this dominion." On the grounds that "propinquity" with white troops in garrison life would be unavoidable, that overtaxing civilian facilities would result, or that social, economic, or racial tensions already existing would be intensified, G-2 did not recommend the assignment of Negro troops to Ascension Island, Alaska, or Hawaii. Nor was their use in China looked upon favorably. "While the Chinese are not race-conscious, their Government is ready to exploit politically any action which can be distorted to appear discriminatory. They will undoubtedly complain of any Negro combat troops sent to China as second rate and will seek to make a political issue of the matter. In view of the abundant seasoned labor supply in China, the sending of negro labor troops there is superfluous," G-2 declared. G-2 recommended that it be consulted on the inclusion of Negro troops whenever a task force was planned for a new area.22
 
While there were points on which it might have been argued that G-2's conclusions were in error and while its predictions did not work out to the letter, country by country, the paper was a further indication that the use of Negro troops overseas was a worldwide matter, fraught with complexities as varied as any within the United States. The paper was circulated to all groups in the Operations Division and to the Secretary of War. It helped re-enforce the air of pessimistic apprehension on the whole question of the ultimate employment of Negro troops that was beginning to beshroud War Department agencies. "Very interesting and thoughtful paper," Assistant Secretary McCloy observed.23 Should we include Negro troops in the Penhryn and Aitukaki task forces? Operations Division asked G-2 a few days later.24 There is no objection to their use at these bases, G-2 replied.25
 
As a matter of fact, G-2 had said in the survey of foreign countries, "It is not felt that the difficulties almost certain to arise in case negro troops are used abroad should in themselves cause a decision not to so utilize our negro manpower. The military situation alone should decide whether negro troops should be accepted in any specific area . . . ." 26 But if the risks were as great as outlined, who would willingly add to the theater commanders' burdens
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the threat of civilian unrest, international displeasure and rifts, and intra-military disorders? Combined with already pressing shortages in shipping, the unsatisfactory training progress of many Negro units, and the urgency of advancing plans for offensive as well as defensive operations, it was easy to justify deferments of Negro units' movement dates. Moreover, the successive disorders between Negro and white troops in 1941 and 1942 led to a serious questioning of the psychological and emotional trustworthiness of Negro troops in foreign countries.
 
Problems Overseas
 
In the meantime, reports from overseas areas tended to indicate that some of the problems feared by the War Department, short of full-scale disturbances, were actually materializing. Getting Negro troops into particular areas at all was sometimes a delicate operation; maintaining them in other areas was at times equally difficult. During the planning conferences for setting up the Persian Gulf Command, for example, many questions arose about the use of Negro troops at the ports. Whether Negro troops should be used at all, whether they should be used "experimentally," whether they should operate specific ports from which all native labor would be evacuated, whether they should be mixed with local labor, whether they should be permitted any contact at all with local labor, or whether the matter of their use should be left entirely with the American commander were all questions discussed in and between London and Washington before the decision was reached that Negro port units would be used in a manner to be decided by the American commander with the understanding that "in no case should we let the impression be gained that the use of colored troops is `experimental.' " 27 Similar questions came up whenever the employment of Negro troops in a given area was suggested.
 
Negro units sent early to overseas areas sometimes faced more than the problems of poor equipment and clothing that plagued many American units leaving the country in the first year of the war. The lone Negro unit sent to the Belgian Congo, Company C of the 27th Quartermaster Truck Regiment, which was employed in the construction and servicing of the southern trans-African air ferry route, became the subject of considerable diplomatic correspondence in 1942. American troops, including the quartermaster company, arrived at Matadi, Belgian Congo, on 29 August 1942. On 1 September the assistant military attaché of the Belgian Embassy in Washington referred to the War Department a message from the Belgian Government-in-Exile's Minister of Colonies protesting that, in February, at the time agreement on the proposed air line was reached, assurances were made that no Negro troops would be included in the construction party. The War Department disclaimed knowledge of such an agreement, and the assistant military attaché and the Ambassador informally
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advised that they had no knowledge of the "commitment" either.28
 
In the meantime, Capt. James. V. Harding, commander of the truck company, requested an immediate change of station, for upon his unit's arrival in the Congo local authorities protested so loudly that the troops were aware of the attitude of the Belgian Government. Harding reported:
 
Racial restrictions are extreme, and no consideration is given our Colored troops above that of the Native Negro by the local white population .... There are no places where our troops may go to be served food, or drink, in contrast to the freedom which is enjoyed by our white troops . . . . The Native villages are `off limits' to all American troops due to sanitary conditions and safety precautions, and this effectively precludes any possibility of correcting the situation . . . . Our men are accorded the same pass privileges as White troops in the area, but exhibit no desire to avail themselves of such privileges as they state that a general outward and bold exhibition on the part of the populace showing Colored soldiers' presence and services are not wanted makes their status very obvious . . . . The condition of the Native population is exciting considerable comment among our men who are rapidly becoming to feel that the things they are fighting for are [a] fallacy.29
 
Belgian authorities kept asking the unit's officers why the U.S. Government had sent Negro troops over the protests of the Congo Government. When the American officers answered that they carried out their orders without question, "it is seen that information seeps back to the troops that their officers are not able to explain why they are here when they are not wanted." The heavy venereal disease rate among the only native women with whom the men could associate and a developing disrespect for the military service as a result of the conditions in which the company found itself were "playing havoc" with morale. "This unit does not desire [to] return to the United States," the commander continued, "but I do request your serious consideration toward sending it to a theatre where it can do its job unhampered by complete isolation and antagonism on the part of the local population." The commander added a note: he had made a personal survey of Pointe Noire, French Equatorial Africa, when moving the unit into French territory was being considered to improve the situation, but he found the colonial policy there to be no better .30
 
By the time this letter had passed through channels, with indorsements indicating that the situation was "unnecessary, disgraceful" and "getting worse," radio messages from the Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces in Central Africa, requesting authority to transfer the company to Liberia, had been received and permission to do so had been granted. The personnel of the company, less officers, were transferred.31
 
Similar problems, neither so urgent nor so simply solved as those encountered in the Congo, were developing elsewhere. Representative of these were the situations in northwestern Canada, Alaska, and in the British Isles.
 
The policy on the use of Negro troops overseas had stated that Negro units would not be sent to extreme northern climates, but the immediate need for
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units to be used in the construction of the Alaska Highway had dictated the use of available Negro engineer units on the project. For more than a year after their arrival, the wisdom of sending the Negro engineer units so far north was debated within the receiving command, within the War Department, and in other executive agencies of the government. Travelers, observers, and residents of the areas gave conflicting reports on both their efficiency and their desirability in northern areas. The morale of many United States troops in Alaska and northwest Canada in the first year of the war was dangerously low, because of insufficient clothing, monotonous food, poor shelter, long tours of duty, and the visible contrast between troop conditions and those of contract laborers who, often employed on the same jobs, were better fed, more adequately clothed, and better paid. Few troops going to northern regions in 1942 had had specialized preparatory training, such as that later given to mountain and desert troops; nor in many cases was appropriate clothing and equipment provided for them. Often units were sent directly from the warmer camps in the continental United States without any previous cold weather experience; frequently the officers were as ignorant as their men of the proper use of the different items provided for cold weather use.32
 
For Negro troops, the problems of the Far North were greater than for the average American unit. Few Negroes in the service units sent there had had experience with living in even the colder parts of the United States; they were completely unacquainted with northern wilderness conditions. The 97th Engineer Separate Battalion, located in encampments where temperatures down to 63 below zero were encountered, was described by one observer as "pathetically ill-equipped [and] doing little else but hibernating at present . . . . As a result of worn out clothing and lack of essential equipment, their outdoor working capacity has been reduced to a small fraction of summer efficiency . . . ." 33 At the same time civilian workers, properly prepared and cared for, were continuing to work out of doors. The isolation of troops in Alaska and northwest Canada, increased in the cases of Negro units by the refusal of many towns to admit them even to their streets and shops, contributed to low morale ..34 Less sparsely populated areas registered protests similar to those of American mainland communities.
 
The problem was not confined to northern Canada and Alaska. Lt. Gen. Kenneth Stuart, Chief of Staff of the Canadian Army, complained informally to Lt. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney, Deputy Chief of Staff, over stationing Negro antiaircraft troops in Canada as part of the defense of the Sault Ste. Marie locks. General McNarney persuaded the Canadian general of the necessity of leaving these troops in Canada, but the objection was another indication of the general feeling toward the use of Negroes in foreign areas. 35
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The decrease in efficiency of Negro troops coupled with maltreatment of equipment and supplies caused many observers, and eventually The Quartermaster General, to urge that no Negro troops, and, indeed, no troops who had not been inured to life in cold climates, be sent to the Far North.36 But there was a powerful counterargument against removing Negro troops from the Northwest Service Command and Alaska. The difficulty of gaining overseas acceptance of Negro troops was so great that this sparsely populated area appeared to be one where, if anything, Negroes might be used in increasing numbers. "[It] eliminates to a large extent the delicate social problems involved," G-4 observed, "and in view of the numerous areas to which these troops cannot be sent, it would appear that the bulk of our forces in areas where Negro troops can be used to fulfill military requirements should be negro units." Proper training and administration would eliminate excessive maltreatment of equipment; the morale question in isolated areas affected all troops, G-4 contended, adding with a touch of irony: "It is recognized that if it were possible to assign troops born and raised in northern climates to Arctic commands, their efficiency would be greater than that of personnel from hot climates. However, it is not believed that such procedure will be practicable as existing units normally comprise personnel from various sections of the country and to break up these units would result in loss of unit training time and create other un-warranted administrative difficulties." 37 Despite later sporadic protests regarding the condition of Negro troops in the Far North, there they remained with white troops as builders of the Alaska Highway and, later, as garrison and maintenance units.
 
The big foreign location question of 1942 concerned the British Isles. Not long after Negro troops began to arrive, British public opinion and American travelers and journalists began to express qualms about the developing situation. All agreed that the British people readily accepted American Negro troops. The problem lay in the importation of American racial patterns to Britain by American white troops, resulting in clashes, ideological and physical, between American troops and between British civilians and American soldiers. British soldiers resented the barring of public places to American Negro troops and instructions to be "polite to colored troops, answer their queries and drift away" given to their units.38 British townsfolk were somewhat bewildered and increasingly resentful of the intrusion of American racial mores upon their own customs. The employees of restaurants professed not to see why Negroes should be barred. Landladies who replied to white troops, "Their money is as good as yours, and we like their company" had their counterparts among the more ideologically minded who observed that "it seems silly to talk about democracy when we have white and black troops
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who will not talk or mix with one another." 39
 
Opinions on the solution of the problem differed. As the United Kingdom became more and more crowded with American troops, plus British and Commonwealth forces and the units of other Allied nations, debate on the matter increased. Some Britons were of the opinion that the solution lay with the American Government, which should limit the numbers of Negro troops sent to Britain and use "every device of persuasion and authority" to convince white American troops that Negro troops in Britain could not be treated as they were in the States.40 Others thought the solution lay in billeting white and Negro troops in different small towns.41 American observers offered similar solutions; they advocated a reduction in the number of Negro troops sent to Britain and a concentration of them in port areas, where British contacts were of a more cosmopolitan nature .42
 
All of these solutions and more were tried, with varying success, but the problem of the British Isles remained with the War Department.43 It remained a limiting factor in the ready dispatch of units overseas, for the heaviest concentration of American troops overseas was in the United Kingdom until the final invasion of Europe. Any limitation upon their use there affected the over-all employment of Negro troops overseas.
 
Deployment and the Future of Units
 
Differences in the rate of movement of Negro and white troops overseas gradually affected the projected use and training of Negro troops. As early as January 1942, the Army Air Forces contended that limitations on the overseas shipment of Negroes justified a reduction in the proportions of Negroes that it should receive. Failing to achieve a reduction in its proportion of Negro troops, the Air Forces then proposed that every task force organized in 1942 should contain one aviation squadron for each air base group, air depot group, or materiel squadron.44 This proposal was approved, but it did not work out in practice. Shipping limitations prevented the dispatch of any but the most patently needed service troops.
 
For at least one type of service unit that had been activated in large numbers, the medical sanitary company, there appeared to be little or no overseas need. The Medical Department, in letters of November 1942 to all surgeons overseas, pointed out the availability of medical sanitary companies satisfactorily
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Photo: MEN OF A QUARTERMASTER TRUCK COMPANY
MEN OF A QUARTERMASTER TRUCK COMPANY
enjoy the hospitality of a British pub and ask questions of the local constable.
 
trained for employment in the theaters and suggested that surgeons urge their theater or base commanders to request these units if the need for them existed. Practically no requests for sanitary companies came from overseas commanders, for their work could usually be accomplished by other service troops or by combat units located near bases 45 Earlier in the year, after Ground Forces transferred all sanitary companies to Service Forces as having no function in combat zones and after they were divorced from the general hospitals to which they were to have been attached, medical sanitary companies appeared to have no potential overseas usefulness at all.46 Attempts to reorganize them as units "designed for useful work rather than merely as a method of clothing and feeding negro soldiers" 47 came to naught as proposals in early 1943 to force-ship one with each general hospital, to make them parts of anti-malarial teams in which white detachments pro-
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vided the specialists and Negro units the labor, or to enlarge them into epidemological companies were considered and discarded .48 While casualty evacuation units and island commands with malarial and other disease prevention problems later found them useful, sanitary companies were symbolic in 1942 and 1943 of the apparent uselessness of many Negro units, especially of those which had been formed primarily for the purpose of absorbing Negro soldiers.
 
Unlike medical sanitary companies, air base security battalions were in potential demand overseas. These units could perform a function which, theater commanders agreed, was a highly important one. To defend airfields without them, it was often necessary to detach infantry from divisions or use expedients that took other types of combat forces away from their primary duties. Although theater and Air Forces commanders insisted upon the need for specific units for the defense of critical airdromes, in many theaters there was strong opposition to the use of Negroes for this purpose. Yet, 175 of the 194 security battalions activated or scheduled to be activated in the 1943 Troop Basis were Negro units. G-3 feared that, instead of accepting Negro units, white units trained for other functions would be used to defend airfields while the Negro units, specifically trained for this purpose, would remain unused in the United States.49
 
The deployment of air base security battalions faced the further handicap of doubts that, with their existing organization, these battalions, regardless of their race, were the most effective means of defending airfields. Theaters felt that the units should be more flexible. They should be readily divisible into at least two parts, for most air bases contained a number of outlying fields. The units had too many heavy weapons and yet had no protection for the unit, as such, against low-flying aircraft. Motor transport was needed in the headquarters detachment and the overall use of personnel in the units was considered excessive.50 Little by way of increasing the effectiveness of these organizations was attempted. To increase their effectiveness greatly would have meant a severe drain on available equipment. Even so, during 1942 theater requests for air base security battalions came in such numbers and with such frequency that Army Air Forces, for a time, felt that it would be impossible to keep up with the demand unless the activation and training of these units were "expedited and augmented."51
 
In February 1943, the Operations Division reported minimum theater and defense command requests for 161 normal air base security battalions, 70 additional fixed companies, and one additional semi fixed company. The United Kingdom alone wanted 50
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Photo: AIR BASE SECURITY TROOPS RACING TO THEIR HALF-TRACKS
AIR BASE SECURITY TROOPS RACING TO THEIR HALF-TRACKS
during an alert, North Africa.
 
battalions, plus 50 fixed defense companies.52 So many requests for variants on the normal battalion indicated serious organizational problems for these units. Tests of an air base security battalion, held in the fall of 1()42 at Orlando, Florida, revealed that the units, as then organized, were not equipped to defend airfields effectively. At best, their mission would have to be a delaying one in the event of a heavy ground attack.53
 
New tables of organization for the units, including a tank platoon and a transportation section, were provided by April 1943 54 Though a few units were so reorganized, by that time the whole question of the shipment of these defensive units overseas was being restudied. The Deputy Chief of Staff directed that requests for them be justified by theater commanders,55 with the result that most outstanding commitments were deferred or canceled. "It is unlikely that theater commanders will require negro Air Base Security Battalions, or any other negro units, to the extent of offering justifications for their use," General Arnold wrote in protesting the retention of battalions which apparently were not going to be used. Forty-nine Negro battalions with approximately 20,000 men and eleven white battalions were then awaiting shipment. Fourteen Negro battalions were overseas. Some fifty-five battalions were awaiting activation. Although
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there was continuing evidence that many of these units might have proved useful in the theaters, since other types of units continued to be diverted from their main missions for the defense of airfields, the bulk of the air base security battalions activated were not to be employed overseas.56
 
While air base security battalions and medical sanitary companies were growing both in number and in difficulty of shipment by virtue of their nature as well as their race, other units required in the theaters were left in the continental United States simply because they were Negro. If these units had Negro officers, overseas demands for them were reduced further, for certain theaters were willing to accept Negro troops if they were commanded by white officers but not if the officers included Negroes. This was a position endorsed by G-2 as a necessary "disciplinary" limitation on the shipment of Negro troops overseas.57 In turn, the negative disposition of theaters toward units with Negro officers affected assignments and promotions in those units authorized Negro officers. The question of enlarging the number of engineer units to which Negro officers could be assigned, discussed in September 1942, was complicated by the information that units designated for early shipment to Europe were not eligible, since Negro officers were not desired in Great Britain at the time.58 Thus, in addition to the restrictions under which assignment agencies were operating in placing Negro officers, allowance had to be made as well for the time and place of their units probable employment.
 
Unit Shortages and Shipment Policies
 
It was not long before requisitions began to arrive for specific types of units, service and combat, which could only be filled by the few available units of these types remaining in the country. When these units were Negro, the requests sometimes remained unfilled although Negro units were available for shipment. At times, such requests required the rapid activation or conversion of white units while available Negro units remained idle. Occasionally, such requests could be filled with little difficulty. In January 1942, the Iceland Base Command asked for three white chemical decontamination detachments, but the only decontamination units in the United States were Negro. In this case, the detachments were small, so the required number of white men could be made available from the Chemical Warfare Replacement Center at Edgewood Arsenal and especially trained for this work.59
 
At other times, filling such requests produced administrative complications which the headquarters concerned considered wasteful and unnecessary. In October 1942, among the units required for Australia, all of which were to be white, was a quartermaster sterilization battalion. But the only sterilization
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battalion available was a Negro unit. "This practice of specifying white units for theaters of operation open to Negro units in this case not only eliminates the only unit available for the assignment but, in general, has undesirable results," Army Ground Forces complained to the Operations Division, through which all such requests came.60 When the Southwest Pacific, in 1943, wanted a light tank battalion, the only one available was a Negro unit while the requisition called for a white unit only. Similar difficulties developed in furnishing an antiaircraft battalion to the Far East and a tank battalion to Europe.61
 
While some Negro combat units-the 24th Infantry in the South Pacific; the 369th Antiaircraft Artillery in Hawaii; the 76th Antiaircraft Artillery in Fiji; the 77th Antiaircraft Artillery in Tongatabu; the 99th Antiaircraft Artillery in Trinidad; and the 1st Battalion, 367th Infantry in Liberia-had been sent overseas early, others, like the 9th Cavalry, were moved to staging areas preparatory to shipment overseas only to be refused by the theaters to which they were to go. Such units had then to return to a training camp. The theaters argued that they already had enough Negro troops or that they needed another type of unit more urgently. The South Pacific, for example, wanted a cavalry regiment but it wanted no more Negro units. French control of local natives was delicate enough not to aggravate it further by the presence of additional Negro troops, the theater informed the War Department. In any event white officers would be required because no local natives were commissioned officers. 62 The possibility that other combat units in the United States, especially regiments and divisions, would be required or accepted grew dimmer as the months rolled by. As the supply of white units grew, the chances of ready shipment for Negro units decreased sharply.
 
In spite of the fact that the three major commands had been directed to ship Negro units overseas in proportions not less than the percentages of Negro troops in the commands, under conditions such as these compliance was impossible. Army Ground Forces, when the development of this pattern was first confirmed, wanted to know if the directive had been rescinded. If it were still in force, AGF recommended, theater requirements should be filled with available troops "regardless of the fact that preferences have been expressed for white units."63 AGF's proposal had no practical results.
 
In the summer of 1943, G-3 undertook to investigate the entire situation surrounding the shipment of Negro units overseas. By then the apparent inability of the War Department to ship Negro units was having effects beyond the area of the operational use of Negro troops. The whole question of the provision of Negro units, combat and service, had to be reassessed. Adherence to the formula of proportional representa-
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tion of Negroes in all branches, which had already begun to weaken, was involved to the extent that G-3 was about to recommend that all Negro combat units be inactivated so that their personnel might be used for non-technical service units, on the assumption that these, at least, could be sent to theaters and used. While all of the agencies concerned had been aware of the difficulties of shipping Negro units for some time, the question now began to spill over into the area of the possible usefulness of any Negro units, either in training in the United States or in operations in the theaters. The breaking point in G-3's tolerance of the steady worsening of the situation came in connection with the training of units for amphibious operations.
 
Training in combined amphibious operations was under the supervision of the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet and a similar force under the Pacific Fleet. Though gas supply, service, and railhead quartermaster troops might be required for amphibious training, these supporting troops were not to be Negro, not even in the training phases. G-3 questioned the desirability of giving amphibious training to any of these supporting units, since their landings almost always came later in assault waves, thereby becoming primarily a matter of logistics. Recognizing that the responsibility for training these and such other supporting units as antiaircraft gun battalions rested with the commander of the Amphibious Force, G-3 tried to defer to his judgment in the matter. Gradually, however, the supply of white service units ran out, leaving only Negro units available. For the last three divisions to be amphibiously trained in 1943, three white quartermaster service battalions in support were desired by the Amphibious Force. Moreover, a desired quartermaster truck company was to be white, for its personnel was to be used to instruct divisional personnel in Dukw operations.64 Army Ground Forces, lacking the requested service battalions, asked permission to substitute Negro battalions .65 The request was denied. Instead, AGF was directed to take two white service battalions from the Desert Training Center, substitute for them one Negro battalion earmarked for overseas shipment, and, to obtain the third battalion, remove one Negro battalion from the troop basis, substitute a white battalion, and activate it.66
 
Later, two tank battalions were required for amphibious training to be given on the west coast in October 1943. Army Ground Forces offered two available Negro tank battalions. The Operations Division rejected them. In discussions arising out of this incident, G-3 learned that Army Ground Forces was having difficulty employing any of its remaining Negro combat units in any form. The chief of G-3 then instructed his training branch to prepare a study citing these difficulties, and recommending, if necessary, that current policy on the provision of Negro units be reconsidered with a view to inactivating Negro combat units.
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G-3 asked Army Ground Forces and Army Service Forces to supply a list of Negro units whose estimated dates of readiness fell within the period 1 September 1943 and 1 February 1944. This list would be compared with the current six months' forecast of units scheduled for overseas movement. Both the ASF and AGF lists showed that ready units were not only on the six months' list but clearly listed there as Negro. The six months' list included, in the Pacific forecast, one Negro infantry division, the gad, about whose shipment little discussion had been heard, since the division had been in training but a few months over a year. Moreover, the requirement of two tank battalions "which brought this matter to a head" had been canceled by the theater commander and Ground Forces had been directed to defer their training.
 
Except for a proposal to analyze the earmarking of units on the six months' chart to determine if last minute substitutions of white for indicated Negro units were being made a short time before shipping dates, G-3 was left with no solid facts upon which to base a recommendation. While the shipment of Negro units overseas had been slow in the past, enough other factors were involved to make it difficult to demonstrate clearly that Negro units could not be shipped in the future either because of their types or because of theater commanders' objections to their race. The six-months' charts indicated that, so far as the administrative machinery was concerned, Negro units were scheduled for shipment even though they might not leave the country as scheduled.67
 
Public Concern
 
The slowness of the deployment of Negro units overseas during 1942 and early 1943 produced expressions of concern in the Negro press, including doubts about the Army's intention of using any of the major units in combat. Upon the combat acquittal of Negro troops, the Negro papers felt, depended the future of the Negro in the Army and, to some extent, his position in American civil life. The commitment of the fighter squadron was of special concern to the Negro press, for it had been given to understand more and more frequently that the 99th Squadron was considered experimental by the Air Forces and that future expansion of the employment of Negro airmen depended upon the combat record of the 99th. "Today, a year and five months after the beginning of pilot training not a single one of our fliers is in combat service, although from time to time, announcement is made that numbers of them have been graduated and have received their wings," The Crisis commented in an editorial on judge Hastie's resignation.68 "There has been considerable talk that our men were not being trained to fight-not sincerely and thoroughly trained to fight," the same journal wrote after representatives of the press had observed the gad Division on maneuvers in Louisiana in the spring of 1943. "It has been said that the Army was only going through the motions, hoping that Negro soldiers would not make good when the test came," it continued, although it reported that the
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93d Division, fully equipped and well trained, was apparently being prepared for combat. 69 As the news of conversions and changes in a number of Negro units became a matter of public knowledge, the persistent questions of the Negro press became: Will any Negro combat units be left? Will any of those left be used in combat? The War Department and its major agencies were quite aware of this phase of the problem.70
 
The deployment of Negro troops overseas became, therefore, not merely a question of persuading theater commanders and foreign areas to take and use Negro troops. It became a question involving the entire organization and training policy of the Army as it affected Negro troops. It became, as well, a question of public policy. More important, from the point of view of the actual operational employment of Negro troops, it became a key question in that galaxy of queries which, by the spring of 1943, formed a cluster whose full effect was: What, now, can the Army do to salvage usable Negro troops from the host of units, holding manpower immobile, for which there is apparently no immediate use? These units included not only the proportionate absorption units created primarily to hold Negro inductees -the sanitary companies, the air base security squadrons, and the aviation squadrons for whom, even when a possible need could be foreseen, priorities for shipment were so low that space on outgoing transports could rarely be provided so long as more urgently needed units and supplies were awaiting transportation, but also the combat units which the theaters were not prepared to welcome. The Army had no clear answer to this question until after the first Negro combat unit engaged in active operations against the enemy in the summer and autumn of 1943.
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Endnotes

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