Chapter XVII
Conversions And Commitments
While the disposition of Negro air combat units was engaging the attention of the War Department's top echelons, the course of converting other Negro units, especially from combat to service troops, continued as part of the larger manpower policy. It soon came into conflict with the urgings of the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies, the Inspector General's Office, and the Negro press and public. Each, from its own point of view, supported the desirability of putting more Negro combat and supporting units into action. Although plans for the shipment of certain units were in the making, these units had not left the United States and, under the policy of secrecy governing the movement of troops in wartime, plans for their eventual commitment could not be disclosed in more than a vague and general way. The conversion of combat units in the United States to service units for future use overseas could not be so readily concealed, and such conversions reawakened all the old fears of the Negro public and its supporters; at the same time these conversions rekindled the concern of people who felt that Negroes should share fully in battlefield losses in order to preserve population ratios. The stripping of personnel from certain units started rumors that all Negro ground combat units, and particularly the 93d Infantry Division, were scheduled for stripping and eventual disbandment.1
State of the Units
The stripped combat units, like the skeletonized units of the prewar period, became symbols of the failure to use Negro manpower fully. Within Army Ground Forces there had been attempts to salvage the stripped units with their double cadres. Some wished to reduce them further to one cadre each, using the excess cadremen for Headquarters 5889 in Liberia, about to be changed from white to Negro personnel, and for quartermaster troop transport companies. Army Ground Forces G-3 wanted to use excess unassigned Negroes to refill the stripped units,2, But, in the fall of 1943 these units' priority on personnel was too low for immediate filling. Allocations of personnel then operated under rigid priorities: (1), overseas replacements; (2), alerted units; (3) , unfilled units; (4) , new units immediately needed; and (5), new activations. Since Negro fillers were in short supply and since existing requirements for alerted

service units were higher than for uncommitted artillery and tank destroyer units, filling the stripped units was not at the moment feasible. Even so, certain units-one field and two antiaircraft artillery battalions-were scheduled for refilling and Army Ground Forces planned to return the others to full strength.3
Of ten stripped field artillery battalions, eight were eventually refilled, but six of the refilled units were later converted to engineer combat units. The other two were inactivated.4 Six of eight tank destroyer battalions awaited fillers for several months while Army Ground Forces requested permission to inactivate them and G-3 insisted that they remain with augmented cadres until the question of refilling them was settled. All were eventually inactivated.5
The Inspector General in an over-all survey of the state of Negro units, found in the fall of 1943 that determining the current status of Negro units had become difficult. Simply identifying Negro units, with their changing designations, was now a problems 6 By the time The Inspector General's survey was completed in December the status of many units had already changed. From the evidence, nevertheless, The Inspector General concluded that the Army no longer had a unified, consistent policy for the activation, training, and employment of Negro units and that the lack of a sound policy had resulted in the ineffective use of Negro units and a corresponding waste of manpower.
Although objecting that the survey presented "no pertinent information . . . not already known to the War Department," and that the survey had not taken into consideration plans and problems in the placement of Negroes in the completed mobilization program, G-3 admitted that the study was valuable, for it "focusses attention on the seriousness of the situation and indicates that prompt, remedial action must be taken." Despite attempts to meet the manpower commitments made by Secretary Stimson, G-3 declared, failure to employ Negro combat units overseas had placed the War Department in the unenviable position of:
a. Having a backlog of combat units in the United States as indicated in the Inspector General's survey.
b. Having to deplete or inactivate these units to provide personnel for service units to avoid wasting manpower.
c. Having to answer numerous queries from negro and other allied organizations without having definite justification for failure to commit negro units to combat or for placing the preponderance of negro personnel in service units.
G-3 recommended again: ( I ) that all available Negro combat units be shipped without delay to active theaters and ultimately employed on missions for which they were activated and trained; (2) that when necessary they be used initially on missions other than their combat missions provided that they retain their combat identity and not be otherwise disposed of "until they have had an opportunity to prove themselves in combat, gain their share of battle honors and accept their share of battle losses"; (3) that pending results of the use of Negro

combat units in battle no change be made in combat units provided for 1944; and (4) that the Bureau of Public Relations "impress upon the nation the great importance of, and need for, service units in any war, and by suitable press releases stress not only the service functions but also the combat requirements of service troops in a war of movement and vertical envelopment and the important contributions of negro units in connection therewith.7
The G-3 recommendations were approved in principle by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney, on 10 January 1944. Similar G-1 proposals calling for the early employment of Negro troops in combat and for raising morale and improving leadership were approved on 20 January.8 The G-3 proposal on the immediate shipment of Negro units then went to the Operations Division for comment and implementation.
The Operations Division observed that all available combat units, including Negro units, were being and would continue to be shipped without delay to active theaters. Combat units, both white and Negro, had been and would continue to be used on service missions when necessary and, during such diversion from their primary missions, they would retain their identities. It was expected, the Operations Division said, that "all combat units eventually will be given the opportunity to prove themselves in combat, gain their share of battle honors and accept their share of battle losses," as G-3 proposed. The Operations Division disclaimed current contemplation of changes in the combat units provided in the 1944 troop basis, but it invited attention to "the fact that no troop basis remains firm but must be modified in accordance with a continuously changing situation." The proportions of Negroes overseas, the Operations Division demonstrated, had increased markedly; they were now, at the end of 1943, almost mathematically proportionate to their numbers in the Army.9 Among Negro units, one division was in process of moving and another division, six tank destroyer battalions, and four field artillery battalions were on the Operations Division's list for movement by the end of July 1944. But engineer, signal, ordnance ammunition, engineer ponton, amphibious truck, chemical smoke generator, troop transport, pack, and quartermaster service units, which the Operations Division listed among "combat support units normally employed in the combat zone, theater of operations," made up the bulk of the Negro units overseas. Despite official War Department definitions, in the public mind these were no substitutes for the combat units by which battle achievement was measured. The Operations Division therefore endorsed the G-3 proposal that the Bureau of Public Relations emphasize

the importance of service units, suggesting that it do so under the supervision of G-2. In sending this comment forward through Operations Division channels, the preparing officer noted: "I have kept this short purposely. No use of entering into futile controversy. The WD gives lip service to a policy that is fraught with difficulties. OPD appears to be in the clear now as we must use everything." 10
Infantry Deployment
The Operations Division had just spent several months working with the "policy that is fraught with difficulties." This staff division was thoroughly familiar with the gap between policy and practice. Time and developments in the performance of the 99th Squadron and not policy had answered the question of the deployment, if not the use, of additional fighter units and the creation of a new bombardment group. How to put into practice stated policies on the deployment of more Negro ground combat units overseas had not been fully worked out. The Operations Division, nevertheless, went ahead with tentative plans to send the 93d Division to the Pacific. With three commands in the Pacific, all of whom required additional strength, one might be willing to use the unit.
At the beginning of 1943, Lt. Gen. Millard F. Harmon, commanding Army Forces in the South Pacific Area, was asked to comment on the possibility of using a Negro division. He replied that although he needed additional divisions he would prefer white ones because every man transported over great distances in scarce ships to his area should have maximum effectiveness. If no white divisions were available, he could use a Negro division for combat and for garrisoning forward areas, including the Solomons and Bismarcks. Because of the nature of the war in the Pacific, the highest type of leadership was needed in the lower echelons of command; for this reason and because native troops in the area had no native commissioned officers, none but white officers should be sent with any Negro division.11 In light of divisional officer policies, this last requirement could not be met.
General Emmons, in Hawaii, was then asked if a white division from among those in Hawaii might be sent to the South Pacific if a Negro division replaced it in the defense of the islands.12 Hawaii, at the time, wanted an extra division so that units coming into the islands to replace those going out to forward areas would not, during the training and disposition period, leave a gap in island defenses. Though General Emmons had indicated that a Negro division should not be assigned the task of garrisoning either populous Oahu or the outlying Hawaiian Islands, he was requested to draw up plans for the possible use of a Negro division in the Hawaiian area, both to free a white division for combat and garrison duties in the South Pacific and to provide employment for a Negro unit. At a

later date, the Negro unit could be withdrawn from Hawaii and sent to the South Pacific to garrison rear areas there.13
The Central Pacific, despite its continuing objections, was directed in December 1943 to make plans for the use of the 93d. The theater proposed to deploy it on four less populous major islands, Kauai, Maui, Hawaii, and Molokai.14 But it was now considered expedient that the 93d get closer to a combat area than Hawaii if possible. While movement orders directing the unit to Hawaii were being prepared, the War Department again suggested that the unit might be useful in the South Pacific where, after jungle training on Guadalcanal, it might be used as a follow-up division in the northern Solomons-New Guinea area for operations such as those in progress at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville.15 At the same time the Central Pacific was informed that no proposed location for the division was final and that it would be fixed in no single location for the duration of the war 16
General Harmon was willing to take the 93d if he had to, but his earlier reservations still held. His area had not expected to receive an additional division during the first six months of 1944, he told the War Department. With shipping limitations in the Pacific preventing both the building of a balanced force and the maintenance of existing units at maximum effectiveness, any available shipping could better be used to bring in replacements, service units, and rotation personnel rather, than an unneeded division. However, if the 93d was sent, it could be used in the manner suggested. It could relieve first line white divisions for rest and rehabilitation, making them more speedily available for re-employment.17 With this reluctant acceptance from General Harmon and in view of the continuing coolness of the Central Pacific, orders were issued, on 2 January 1944, changing the destination of the 93d Infantry Division from Hawaii to New Georgia in the Solomon Islands.18
In the same six months, means for moving two of the remaining separate infantry regiments became available. The 366th Infantry and 364th Infantry had been scheduled for the European theater, the former for February 1944 and the latter for March.19 But all the European theater's expected requirements for separate regiments were canceled.20 Ground Forces urged that the 364th, because of continuing difficulties in its training locations, be given some other overseas destination. The 364th was thereupon marked for rotation to

Alaska for March 1944 in place of the 140th Infantry.21
The 366th Infantry and 372d Infantry, both of which had been in training and on security duties at their Massachusetts and New York locations since the spring of 1941, were still un-allotted. There had been unsuccessful attempts to use these Negro regiments as school troops. There had been attempts to move the 372d for retraining, since Lt. Gen. Hugh Drum, commanding the Eastern Defense Command, had reported that its assignment to guard duty in the New York area was no longer necessary. With the inadequate training facilities and excessive diversions of the area, the regiment was faced with a loss of training and morale.22 But the regiment, by the terms of its assignment to New York, could not be moved without War Department approval. The War Department, in turn, could not move the regiment without authority from the White House, for the regiment had been stationed in New York after an agreement between President Roosevelt and Mayor La Guardia.23
The White House, when queried on moving the unit, replied through General Watson that there was no objection to moving it provided that it was replaced by another regiment.24 The 372d therefore remained on its New York duty. It and the 366th were frequently commented upon publicly as examples of units activated and trained over a long period of time which had not been employed overseas.25
The opportunity to move these regiments came as the result of conversions of other units. In November, the North African theater, which already had five air base security battalions, requested eighteen more or their equivalent for the Twelfth Air Force and for the new Fifteenth Air Force. It suggested that, if necessary, the air base security disbandment program be revised to provide the theater with units needed to cope with increasing civilian sabotage and depredations on airfields. Negro troops for these duties would be highly acceptable and a high priority for them would be arranged, the theater said.26
But all uncommitted air base security battalions were now disbanded. G-3 proposed that the 366th and 372d Infantry Regiments be furnished for this duty instead.27 The Operations Division concurred and recommended again that the War Department request a White House release for the 372d Infantry. But the recommendation was returned with the notation "Leave unit there until orders from (WH) release

it."28 The North African theater was offered the 366th Infantry and accepted it, whereupon the North African Air Force suggested on its own that an additional Negro regiment would be quite acceptable in place of the remaining air base battalions that it needed.29 To this latter suggestion the War Department replied that the additional Negro regiment was not available, but the 65th (Puerto Rican) Regiment could be substituted.30 The theater accepted this unit, along with the 367th Infantry Battalion, offered earlier from Liberia.31
The 366th, already released to Army Ground Forces for refresher training, was thus scheduled for Italy in February to serve in lieu of air base security battalions. The 364th was preparing for Alaska. The 372d remained in New York City. The 93d Division was readying for the Pacific. Plans for these units and efforts made to utilize them were not made public. The units, therefore, remained centers of public and press discussion until they were moved. When at last they were shipped, it was under circumstances peculiar to them and unique in the deployment of American military forces in World War II.
Reactions to Conversions
Not until Chicago's 930th and 931st Field Artillery Battalions, descendants of the old 8th Illinois Infantry, were converted to engineer combat battalions in January 1944 was there strong public and political reaction to the conversion of Negro units. For these units, this conversion represented the third reorganization since the beginning of mobilization. The 8th Illinois Infantry was inducted as a field artillery regiment in January 1941 and reorganized into separate battalions in January 1943- It was easy to conclude that its history of successive reorganizations indicated that it was unlikely to be used effectively at all. News that the 2d Cavalry Division was being sent overseas for disbandment had even greater impact, for two of its regiments were the old and revered 9th and 10th Cavalry. Their hold on the affections and respect of the Negro public and of many of the older Army officers was surpassed by few other regiments. Unfavorable reactions to their conversion were expected within the military establishment. By this time, concern over the fate of Negro units in general had already been expressed in many quarters. It was currently the subject of a lively debate with heavily political overtones that eventually affected the employment of the remaining Negro units.
Representative Hamilton Fish, of New York, who had spoken often in warm terms of his service in World War I as an officer of New York's 369th In-

fantry Regiment, wrote to Secretary Stimson for information on the report that Negro tank destroyer and field artillery units had been broken up. He wanted to know as well if it was true that the 24th Infantry had been in the Pacific for nearly two years performing only labor duties. "I am aware of the fact that military necessity must control the assignment of personnel in the Army," he said, "but if the planning of the General Staff were adequate such actions would not be necessary. In the circumstances, I am still wondering whether there is not a deliberate plan to keep Negro soldiers out of actual combat." He then referred to the Selective Service amendment on discrimination in training which he had sponsored in 1940, saying that "If Negro soldiers are trained as combat troops but denied service as such, such discrimination appears to be a violation of my amendment."32
Stimson's reply, dated 19 February 1944, was a lengthy one prepared in the Legislative and Liaison Division. It detailed the relationship of units to the course of the war, pointing out that certain defensive units, such as antiaircraft artillery, coast artillery, and tank destroyers, were no longer needed in the numbers required earlier and that service units "on a tremendous scale" were now needed to support a global war waged on many fronts. Both Negro and white units were being converted and both Negro and white units were being committed overseas in as balanced proportions as possible. Both Negro and white combat units were at times employed in labor functions. " I he tact is," Fish was told, "there is no defensible reason for not so employing combat troops when necessary, and the procedure actually is to be encouraged in order to obtain maximum manpower value. As you know, rarely are all combat units in an area committed simultaneously. The decision as to when and how any unit shall be employed rests entirely with the responsible commander." 33
It was not these, but two other statements in the letter that became the storm center for controversy. In referring to the 930th and 831st Field Artillery Battalions, the letter said:
Certain other existing Negro Field Artillery units are being converted to heavier artillery, but the 930th and 931st 155 mm.
Howitzer Battalions have not been selected for conversion to heavier artillery or retention as Field Artillery owing to the unsatisfactory records of both units. To have retained these troops as Field Artillery and concurrently to have converted or stripped other Negro or white Field Artillery units with substantially higher efficiency records, would have been an uneconomical use of manpower. The present plan to convert the units to Combat Engineers is based on similar considerations.
And, on converting combat units to service units in general, it said:
. . . the War Department's selection of units to be converted has been based solely on the relative abilities, capabilities and status of training of the personnel in the units available for conversion. It so happens that a relatively large percentage of the Negroes inducted in the Army have fallen within the lower educational classifications, and many of the Negro units accordingly

have been unable to master efficiently the techniques of modern weapons. To have committed such units to combat at the dates of conversion would have endangered operational successes as well as submitted the personnel to unnecessarily high casualty rates. Our limitations of manpower and urgent and immediate need for service units of a type whose mission could be efficiently discharged by the personnel concerned left no choice but to include Negro troops in conversions such as those mentioned in your letter.34
These were points of view so universally accepted within the War Department that exceptions taken to them came as a surprise. After reading the Stimson letter into the Congressional Record, Fish told the House that he could not agree with the Secretary's "inference that colored soldiers' efficiency ratings are so low" that they could not master modern weapons. Education among Negroes, he declared, had increased since the first World War; if the four separate regiments of that war could make good records he did not understand why their descendants could not now. It seemed strange that French Senegalese and British Indian divisions could fight superbly, that Russians with low educational standards could be war heroes, and that Japanese with less education than American Negroes had made "brave and efficient soldiers" while the War Department could not do as well with American Negroes. "Any American who is good enough to wear the uniform of his country, regardless of race, color, or creed, must be treated equally and be afforded the opportunity to serve, fight and die in defense of our free institutions, our constitutional form of government, and for America itself," he concluded .35
When he saw a copy of Stimson's reply to Fish, Truman Gibson predicted to Secretary McCloy that the letter would "accentuate the greatly increasing criticisms and resulting resentments which have already reached alarming proportions." Its references to educational classifications "reduces the War Department policy with respect to Negroes to very simple terms that cannot be misunderstood." The letter, if correct, implied considerations which were "particularly unfortunate" for a public statement. "In what regard," Gibson asked, "will combat engineer units be held when it is blandly stated that men too dumb for field artillery for which they have been trained for three years can be sent into combat engineer battalions?" The letter would undoubtedly be used for political purposes. Administrative handling of the reply, Gibson felt, was poor. The letter had not been sent to him for comment and, so far as he could learn, it had gone neither through the Advisory Committee nor the McCloy office. "It suggests," he said, "that in all such cases as the Fish letter that careful consideration be given the basic policy involved and that in any event the matters be sent those of us who have some knowledge of the facts." He reiterated that temporizing solved no problems. After a conference on the disposition of the 2d Cavalry Division, Gibson had found that the "whole attitude" was " How did Gibson find out about this?'" He reminded the Assistant Secretary that "All of these things will be found out

about. As a civilian, I certainly would not presume to question any decisions based on military necessity. However, the manner of procedure in the conversion of Negro units leaves the War Department open to the charge that there are other factors that are being taken into consideration." 36
Gibson was correct about the effect of the Stimson letter. As soon as Fish's speech was over, its refrain was taken up in the Negro press, with "Stimson says Negroes too dumb to master modern weapons of war" as the main burden of their approach. Representative  William L. Dawson of Chicago, at the time the only Negro Representative in the House, had already made inquiries about the converted units, saying of the stripping of the older battalions: "So far as the public was concerned, it was but a repetition of the attitude of the Army that has been all too familiar to Negroes. I am well acquainted with this attitude, having served as an officer in a regiment that fought during the last war." He, too, was exercised over the political implications of the letter. "I say to you frankly," he told the Assistant Secretary, "that the political enemies of the Commander in Chief of our armed forces are seeking to place responsibility for this un-American attitude squarely upon his doorstep." 37 While Republican political workers were interpreting conversions to Negroes as a general Roosevelt administration failure, Democrats blamed the Army and the War Department, with Representative Dawson telling a group of Negro Democrats gathered in Washington for a meeting just after the Fish speech that "the failure to use Negro Americans to the fullest in this war is the diabolical work of a reactionary and prejudiced clique within the Military Establishment." 38
Three days later, Dawson, having received no answer to his original queries, addressed a new series to Assistant Secretary McCloy, pointing out that since the Fish speech he had received
...hundreds of communications from every section of this country, denouncing the statements made by the Secretary of War, and demanding that I see the President to ask for the removal of the Secretary of War, or demanding that I immediately introduce a resolution for a sweeping investigation of the entire military situation with a view of finding out the sources responsible for the information upon which the Secretary of War based his letter.39
Dawson now wanted to know what plans had been made for the use of the Negro officers of "the units which the War Department letter states have failed so miserably" as well as information on the service schools attended by these officers and "the bases from which they were

formally certified for combat service and who certified them for such service." 40
Before the War Department could begin to formulate answers to the queries arising out of the Fish-Stimson letters, news that the 2d Cavalry Division was no longer fully constituted began to filter out to the public through complaints of men of the 3d Signal Troop, left behind and converted to signal construction troops when the remainder of the division, still bearing its combat designation, left for North Africa. Inquiries about this unit began to reach the War Department. "I don't know the circumstances of the case, but evidently the men feel that they are being discriminated against because of their color." Senator Robert Taft of Ohio wrote to McCloy. "It seemed to me that perhaps you might like to look into the situation, and if you do obtain any report, I shall be glad to hear of it." 41
Senator Taft had not mentioned the conversion of the 2d Cavalry Division, but, as a part of a long and detailed letter written the day after Taft's, Judge Hastie, now back at his old job as dean of the Howard Law School, made a logical deduction that any or all of the old Regular regiments might have shared the fate of the National Guard regiment. His letter to Stimson, the last of his attempts to influence the War Department directly, was a detailed summary of his position and an accurate delineation of the position arrived at by Negroes who possessed pertinent facts about the course of the employment of Negro troops. He wrote:
When I read in the Congressional Record for February 24, 1944 your letter of February 19 to Congressman Hamilton Fish concerning the conversion of Negro combat units into service units, my first inclination was publicly to challenge your letter as unfair and insulting to the Negro soldier, inaccurate and lacking in candor. However, on reflection I concluded that a man of your integrity and with your sense of justice could sign such a letter only if, without personal knowledge of the facts, he had been misled by those who drafted the document. Remembering too your invitation, at the time of my resignation from your official family, that I continue to bring to your attention matters of concern to the military establishment, I determined to place before you in this letter what I believe to be important and accurate observations with reference to Army policy and practice in the disposition of Negro combat units.
Hastie began his interpretation of the problem by listing the Negro combat units existing in 1941 and indicating what was publicly known of their status in 1944. He then continued:
Despite your assurance to Congressman Fish "that any implication that the War Department is deliberately attempting to avoid sending overseas, or to keep out of combat, troops of the Negro or any other race, is entirely without foundation," the disposition of these first Negro combat regiments three years after their mobilization, deserves your further examination. Attention is directed first to the four Negro regular army regiments, the 24th and 25th Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry, created in 1866 pursuant to Congressional mandate. Their maintenance in combat status is, I believe, a statutory duty. Yet, one of these regiments, the 24th Infantry, has been employed as a service unit for

nearly two years. I believe, Mr. Secretary, that you are entitled to know, and the public is entitled to know, whether the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 25th Infantry have been committed to combat missions for which they have been trained or whether they too have been or are being converted to service units. These four are among the proudest regiments of our army. On the western plains, in the Philippines, with Theodore Roosevelt in Cuba, under Pershing in Mexico, they have been among our finest front line combat troops. Will you inquire, Mr. Secretary, what their missions are today? What we know about the 24th makes us apprehensive about the other three.42
The Taft letter, arriving at about the same time as Hastie's, went to the Legislative and Liaison Division with the request that, in answer, the matter of the legality of the conversion of the 9th and 10th Cavalry, both established by statute, be checked.43 The prepared answer avoided mention of the legality of the conversion, but it did reveal that the entire 2d Cavalry Division was among the units converted to provide personnel for service units. No definite commitment for a cavalry division could be foreseen, Senator Taft was told. "Since the Second Cavalry Division was the only source from which such personnel could be withdrawn without delaying the war effort, the War Department was compelled to effect this change in its utilization. Needless to say, the decision would necessarily have been the same had this Division been composed of white personnel." McCloy personally added a final paragraph: "We are taking determined steps to commit to combat, colored units just as soon as we can. We have some tactical and training problems that have to be dealt with but I think they will be solved."44
This first public statement that the cavalry division had been converted became the standard explanation for later inquiries.45 When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People made on inquiry about the division some weeks later-information on the conversion reached the public slowly-the letter to Taft was inclosed as explanation when the association was answered.46
Except for an acknowledgment from McCloy disavowing interpretations given the Stimson letter, Hastie had gone unanswered. His letter was not so easy to answer as many others that came into the Department on the same subject during the period, for Hastie had surveyed the whole subject of the utilization of Negro troops, placing it in the moral and ethical setting from which many Negroes viewed developing Army policies. His interpretation could not be parried, as many were, by implying that it was based on a misreading of Stimson's

letter, or that, like some correspondents, his basic information was in error.47 If changing defensive units to types more urgently needed was basic to conversions, and if Negro field artillery, infantry, and cavalry units were regarded as defensive units, "this but confirms the belief of many persons that overseas service was never intended for them, but rather they were intended from the outset for employment as glorified `home guards,' " Hastie had pointed out. Since antiaircraft units are mainly defensive and since more of these than any other ,Negro combat types had found overseas assignments, there must be other reasons behind the conversion and assignment policies, he continued. The argument that inferior qualifications and unsatisfactory training records, "usually relied upon in military circles," were responsible did not hold up if it was considered that antiaircraft units had had no better men than the other units. If the Army had been primarily concerned about the "educational qualifications" of the men in combat units, during the past three years efforts would have been made to provide qualified men for these units. Instead, the combat units were denuded of their best men for cadres for other units, often of service types. "The truth of the matter is," Hastie continued, "that these original Negro combat units have been the problem children of the Army for more than two years, not because they were incompetent, but because no one wanted them." Antiaircraft units, Hastie thought, constituted a special category, in that they could be placed in more or less permanent defensive positions where they need not be integrated with other units for use. "So the utilization of Negro Antiaircraft units in the theater of operations was adopted as the device best calculated to confound the critics of Army policy as to Negro combat troops without basically changing that policy," he concluded. There was another category of unit, Hastie said, which had not been mentioned, the air base security battalions. Their conversion was difficult to justify because of "the successful, and in at least one case distinguished, combat performance of such few of these units as fought in the North African campaign." If Negro infantry and artillery units needed strengthening, he continued, why were not qualified and trained men from air base security units sent to them rather than to the services? Then Hastie commented upon the comparisons between service and combat units suggested in the Stimson letter and upon the importance of the equitable use of Negro manpower to the future of race relations within the country:
All of this is said without intention to reflect upon the necessary and often hazardous functions of the Service Forces. Indeed, as I have read your letter to Congressman Fish, I have been struck with the apparent implication there that the Service Forces should be a dumping ground for the culls of the Ground Forces. Most remarkable of all is the suggestion that the 189th Field Artillery is being converted into "combat engineers" because of its "unsatisfactory record." I believe that I have not been alone in my thought that the functions of the combat engineers require a measure of skill and intelligence not exceeded in any other branch of the military service. Certainly, generations of the

"Engineers" at the Military Academy have so believed.
A final thought. Nothing can do more to improve the too often unsatisfactory relations between white and colored soldiers than the sharing of common experience on the field of battle. This is important now and for the future. The veterans of this war will be the greatest force for racial good will or for racial enmity in America. Prejudice and intolerance will have no place in the hearts and minds of comrades m arms who have fought and bled and conquered shoulder to shoulder.
It is respectfully submitted that it is time and past time that the matter of utilization of Negro combat units pass out of the hands of those who deal with this matter as a distasteful search for compromise born of political necessity, and into the hands of those who have the will and the understanding to exploit the great combat potential of the Negro soldier as a valuable asset in the winning of the war.48
Hastie's letter, tabbed "Urgent," went from the administrative assistant to Secretary McCloy, with the note: "I think it important that this be called to Mr. McCloy's attention.49 Since McCloy had already acknowledged receipt of the copy sent him by Hastie, and since an answer involved drafts by many hands, the reply remained unprepared for the Secretary's signature for a month. In the meantime new decisions had been made, for, as soon as the winds of furor aroused by the Stimson letter reached the War Department, efforts under way for some months to solve the problem of the overseas utilization of Negro troops received renewed emphasis. Even as the Hastie letter was on its way to Stimson, the staff divisions, at McCloy's request, were drawing up new plans and studies of the problem and the Advisory Committee was preparing a formal recommendation on getting more Negroes overseas and into active combat.
The McCloy Committee Faces the Issue
By the end of February 1944 the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies had before it the agreement of G-1 and G-3 and the three major commands that the shipment of more Negro units was a desirable procedure. It also had The Inspector General's survey with its evidence that the overseas Negro troop population was below its proper proportion and its conclusion that "Units containing Negro personnel have a history of activation and training, followed by a transfer of personnel and acquisition of new troops, which has necessitated units starting all over again, and for many units, this has occurred more than once."50 And it had evidence of mounting and potential distrust of War Department intentions as shown by press comment and individual correspondence subsequent to the Fish address. Members of the committee had often suggested ways and means of shipping more units overseas, but, in the face of manpower shortages, reports of training unreadiness, and the reluctance of theaters to accept Negro units so long as white units were available, the committee as a whole had deferred action. Now, on the last day of February 1944, the committee met to consider "a formal recommendation to the Secretary of War that

a definite program be worked out to commit some Negro combat troops to action against the enemy."51
The Operations Division, unrepresented on the committee, sent Brig. Gen. Carl A. Russell, Deputy Chief, Theater Group, OPD, to the meeting by request. General Russell declared that the Operations Division sent overseas what it was offered, according to fitness and according to theater commanders' wishes. The G-1, General White, observed that all available personnel had to be used. In the midst of this discussion, Assistant Secretary McCloy arrived and announced that in a meeting just concluded with General Marshall and Secretary Stimson, the Secretary had requested that a definite proposal be presented to the staff, for he wished the use of Negro troops in combat to be placed upon the record. The War Department had not been in the habit of "dictating" to theater commanders, but, the Assistant Secretary said, with G-1 and G-9 agreeing, there were times when national policy made it necessary to dictate. "This is such a case," McCloy stated. "Ten percent of our people are colored and we have to use it. We make a farmer out of a clerk. It is a vital National Policy to make a military asset out of that part of the population." With the British using Africans in Burma 52 and with an American-Japanese unit in Italy, a Negro combat team could be sent overseas and employed, most committee members felt. After further discussion, the committee formally advised the Secretary of War:
It is the recommendation of this Committee that, as soon as possible, colored Infantry, Field Artillery, and other Combat units be introduced into combat and that if present organizations or training schedules do not permit such prompt commitment, that steps be taken to reorganize any existing units or schedules so as to permit the introduction of qualified colored combat units, as promptly as possible, into battle.
To the suggestion from General Dalton of Army Service Forces that the recommendation be made stronger, General Porter, the G-9, laconically observed, "It would take a directive of the Chief of Staff to enforce it." 53
In forwarding the recommendation to Secretary Stimson, McCloy amplified the committee's point of view:
There has been a tendency to allow the situation to develop where selections are made on the basis of efficiency with the result that the colored units are discarded for combat service, but little is done by way of studying new means to put them in shape for combat service.
With so large a portion of our population colored, with the example before us of the effective use of colored troops (of a much lower order of intelligence) by other nations, and with the many imponderables that are connected with the situation, we must, I think, be more affirmative about the use of our negro troops. If present

methods do not bring them to combat efficiency, we should change those methods. That is what this resolution purports to recommend.
Secretary Stimson penned on the covering memorandum: "I concur with recommendation-H. L. S."54
G-3, in the meantime, prepared for Secretary McCloy a comprehensive report of the situation.55 This material was to provide answers for any further queries from the White House and from other sources. It reviewed and refined existing policies, extending them in some instances to fit current developments. It reiterated the policy that the Army would accept and absorb 10.4 percent Negroes in its male strength, excluding "certain specialized activities such as the College Training Program and the Office of Strategic Services." 56 Negro personnel accepted would, "to the greatest practicable extent consistent with military necessity and the abilities of the individuals concerned, be distributed throughout all arms and services." 57 A corollary to this policy, G-9 said, was that since the Army "cannot afford the luxury of organizing tactical units which will remain in the United States for the duration of the war . . . the Army intends that colored units shall eventually be employed overseas to the greatest extent that their capabilities permit."
Quoting from field reports, G-3 reviewed again the difficulties in adhering to these policies. Manpower shortages and the relative preparedness of units had been responsible for conversions with the exception that in the case of the 2d Cavalry Division conversion "did not result from deficiencies on its part but rather on the unfortunate circumstance -insofar as it was concerned-that it was the only available source of urgently needed personnel. The decision of the War Department in this case would have been the same had the personnel of the 2d Cavalry Division been white." As other combat units were readied for shipment, they would be sent overseas. The War Department had made the best use of the means at its disposal; it was unfortunate, G-3 concluded, that these means divided along racial lines. But as the end of the war drew nearer, "people both white and colored-of lower classification grades will gravitate toward less complicated tasks and conversions must be made. It is likewise inevitable that units with the furtherest [sic] advanced training will continue to be the first employed in battle."58
With the addition of data on the War Department's efforts to raise standards through special training units, this material in reduced form became the standard public explanation for War Department policies involving the conversion of Negro units to service functions. Of the special training units a typical letter remarked: "Very encouraging results have been obtained to date. In the first six months of these courses, out of 29,000 Negro trainees approximately 90% were retained in the Army and assigned to

more advanced training. Many excellent soldiers have been developed out of men who have initially made a low score in the Army General Classification." 59 It was not long before an additional note to the effect that "recent press releases indicate that the 24th Infantry" was engaged in active combat could be added to these letters.60
On 6 March 1944, Stimson, McCloy, and representatives of the major agencies concerned discussed the Advisory Committee's recommendation. Two courses of action were decided upon. In accordance with the first, a radiogram went to Lt. Gen. Millard F. Harmon in the South Pacific expressing the War Department's desire that not less than one regimental combat team of the 93d Division, then arriving in the Solomons, be used in combat as soon as possible.61 General Harmon replied that early employment met with both his and Admiral William F. Halsey's favor and that the War Department would be advised promptly on the completion of plans for use of the 93d Division.62 The second decision was that out of the 92d Division a regimental combat team should be selected and intensively trained for shipment to an undetermined theater of operations at the earliest possible date.
The team would eventually rejoin its division. All personnel of the division would have an opportunity to volunteer for duty with the combat team. Officers for this team were to be selected on the basis of demonstrated qualifications without regard to race. The team would be trained under the most favorable provisions for terrain, instruction, equipment, ammunition, and training aids that could be made available. Ground Forces was directed to inform the War Department of the earliest date on which such a team could be ready for shipment overseas.63
Thus, McCloy explained to General Marshall, two methods of committing Negro ground combat troops to battle would be used: the first, the employment of existing units just as they were and the other the use of a specially selected team which, later, could impart its battle experience to the rest of the division. Under this proposal, both the proponents of introducing Negroes to ground combat through the use of a "handpicked" unit and those who preferred a normal unit so that lessons might be drawn from the conduct of a run of the mine organization would be satisfied .64
The commitment of large Negro ground combat units thus proceeded under highly sponsored if not ideally planned conditions. The War Department suggested methods of use to field commanders and requested continuing reports on their progress. Once the large units were committed and definitely marked for use, it became relatively simpler to ship the smaller, supporting com-

bat units, either as separate units or as support for the larger units, especially in areas whose strength was declining. The Central Pacific was now willing to take a tank destroyer unit and General Devers, in June, queried the War Department from Algiers: "Can you send one or two colored tank battalions with the 92d? We will be delighted to have them." 65
The commitment of Negro troops to combat, like their induction into the Army and distribution to units, was more a function of expediency in response to external circumstances-public and political pressures and considerations of morale-than a response to specific need for the units. With certain smaller units this was not the case, but with the larger units on which so much symbolic attention was focused and upon which so much administrative and training effort had been expended, this was specifically the case. The commitment of the bulk of Negro combat troops therefore followed no integrated plan for their use. It was rather an implementing of "vital National Policy" more than a response to military and strategic requirements that finally got them committed to the theaters.
Readiness for Overseas Movement
Before any shipment policy could be carried out, units had to complete their training and be processed for movement. Final preparation for overseas movement, known as POM, was a formalized procedure involving alerts, scheduled packing, tests, inspections, and departure for staging areas where new inspections, further training, and last adjustments were made.66 In the completion of their training and in their preparations for movement Negro units faced certain problems met less frequently or not at all by white units. These often affected the general process of employing Negro troops.
Most Negro units were small and relatively isolated "spare parts" which were trained under less than the fullest supervision. A number of the quartermaster service units, the medical sanitary units, the aviation squadrons, and the engineer separate battalions engaged in odd jobs as much as in training. Some "horrible examples" therefore turned up on The Inspector General's overseas readiness inspections. When a small Negro unit's training was poor it was likely to be very poor indeed. No balancing corollary of excellence in other units was available for contrast. That the personnel of these units had sometimes been transferred to as many as fourteen units during their training careers, that certain units had been filled and refilled many times over, and that the units themselves and then current commanders were often without blame for the conditions in which the units found themselves after months of nominal "training," did not alter the fact that these units were not ready for use.
Shipment delays added to the un-readiness of units. Some received so many

warning orders that they and their administrative supervisors forgot the number. "At the end of December [1943] the job was finished off with bar and rod steel matting, and the Battalion rallied to meet its fifth (or was it sixth) warning order on January 3rd," one headquarters commented of a Negro unit.67 Others were the victims of generally poor training histories and methods. The cited records of these units tended to influence negatively the prospects for ready use of similar units.
Some of the more highly unsatisfactory units uncovered by The Inspector General's overseas readiness inspections became examples for presentation to the General Council by General McNarney, who had a continuing concern with the adequate training of units, especially the smaller types. One of these was an aviation quartermaster company formed on 6 September 1942 by the reorganization of a truck company. All enlisted personnel had received their twelve weeks of basic training, but technical and unit training was not sufficient for the unit to perform its mission. No trucks had been assigned. In four months the unit had had only three days' training with borrowed trucks. It had never participated in combined exercises or maneuvers, had never worked with a group or any other unit as a truck company, had never been given any tests by its higher headquarters to determine its proficiency. Men of the unit had had little practice with the weapons with which they were armed; crew-served weapons had not been fired since trucks and machine gun mounts for them were not available at the unit's station. With the record of neglect in this company General McNarney compared the record of a similar white quartermaster company, activated four days later. All personnel had had thirteen weeks of basic training. Individual technical training was adequate; unit training was complete and satisfactory. The unit had performed convoy missions for the camp quartermaster. Though it had never been on maneuvers, it had conducted several night problems under blackout conditions and had bivouacked in the field for a week. Tests conducted by its higher headquarters had found the work satisfactory; all men had fired their weapons and 60 percent had qualified.68
Other units, like the 387th Aviation Squadron, were declared ready before they had time to come to a point of efficient training. This unit, activated on 26 March 1943, was declared ready in July 1943. But many of its replacement fillers had only recently arrived; fifty of these were not fit for overseas duty. The unit's personnel had had a minimum of four weeks' basic training; the organization had had practically no unit training. It had had one night of field bivouac. No training or field exercises in map reading, camouflage, or chemical warfare had been given it. Discipline in general in the squadron was poor.69
Some cases of poor preparation were disclosed on annual inspections. The new commander of the 827th Tank Destroyer Battalion, then training at the Desert Training Center in attachment to the 93d Infantry Division, attributed his unit's difficulties in part to the inade-

quate training young officers had received at the tank destroyer school and to the failure of former battalion and company commanders to eliminate inefficient officers and noncommissioned officers. "Many seem to feel that better replacements are not available and therefore it is best to keep the majority of the present leaders and try to train them," he explained. There were other reasons cited for the battalion's deficiencies:
a. Changes in type of unit from self propelled M-3s to towed 3 inch to self propelled M-10s.
b. Use of the Battalion as school troops from 2 January 1943 to 21 July 1943.
c. Shortages of equipment in supply branches. According to the best information available, the battalion has never been properly equipped with either organization
or individual equipment.
d. Poor training in care and maintenance of equipment.
e. Lack of coordination of training by higher T.D. headquarters to produce trained battalions capable of combining the five essential elements which I consider necessary for a T. D. battalion to be successful in battle, namely:
(1) Fire power, both direct and indirect.
(2) Movement.
(3) Reconnaissance.
(4) Security.
(5) Radio Communications.
Although this battalion was activated April 20, 1942, I would rate it as unsatisfactory in all the above essential elements except direct fire. In my opinion this is due chiefly to failure to prescribe sufficient field training similar to that which a battalion will encounter against an armed enemy. Too much time is devoted to basic training and piecemeal training which does not require units to function as companies and battalions. As far as I can determine this battalion was never required to maneuver as part of a larger force and had only two battalion field exercises before I assumed command. Prior to leaving Camp Hood, no time on training schedules was allotted to indirect fire although it is the most important secondary mission of T.D. Units.70
The battalion, scheduled for shipment to the Central Pacific, was still not ready in February 1944. A white battalion was substituted at almost the last minute.71
Maneuvers revealed further unreadinesses, although the record of most small units on maneuvers was satisfactory or better. Of fifty-seven Negro service units-quartermaster, chemical, and ordnance-participating in the Sixth Maneuver period in Louisiana in the winter and spring of 1944, for example, only two were unsatisfactory. One of these, a railhead company, refused to operate on one occasion because of poor discipline among its men. It was necessary to withdraw this unit from the maneuver area and reorganize it. The other, a gasoline supply company, allowed tankers to return full and half full, through negligence.72
This last unit turned up five months later as one of The Inspector General's examples of an unready unit. It was no better then. Activated on 25 August 1943, it got its fillers, described as "castoffs, consisting of the sick, the lazy, the problem negroes," from the 92d Infantry Division. The whole group of 12 2 men

contained only 7 with an Army General Classification Test score above Class IV. Though at authorized strength in August 1944, the unit needed replacements for both its first sergeant and for a platoon sergeant, neither of whom was sufficiently trained to hold his job. During August, thirty-four men were transferred out for physical disqualifications. Twenty-eight untrained replacements were received. The unit had had seven company commanders in a year. The current commander was not qualified to take the company overseas, but he had been left with the company because he was the only officer present for duty. This unit, General McNarney observed, was likely to be more of a handicap than assistance in a theater; it would need heroic measures, he felt, to get it into shape.73
In some cases, units that had completed all prescribed training and were adjudged able to perform their missions in active theaters had only one possible deficiency noted: they had a majority of their personnel in AGCT Classes IV and V.74 In a few others, confused officer situations, in which officers had too little experience or were distributed in violation of current officer racial policies, held up shipment. In one such case, a quartermaster company had eight officers: a white captain, absent sick; a white first lieutenant, commanding but not qualified; a second lieutenant, white, with three months' service, acting as company executive; a second lieutenant, Negro, with five months' service; and four new
Negro second lieutenants, all fresh from officer candidate school, assigned to the unit for three days. No assigned officer was qualified to command. Before this unit could depart, all new officers of greater experience and qualifications had to be assigned.75 Another small unit was held up until it could be furnished a better racial balance among officers than its one white officer commanding with all Negro lieutenants.
It would be expected that the larger Negro units, considering the circumstances of their activation, the accompanying lamentations over their desultory training records, and the difficulties in placing them overseas, would have had longer training periods in the zone of interior than comparable white units. Yet the three divisions, despite their quite different training careers, were all shipped overseas at about the same time as other divisions of their own age and somewhat in advance of some of their contemporaries.
The 93d Division, activated in May 1942, proceeded overseas in January 1944, while its sister division in point of time, the 85th, left in December 1943 and the 77th, a month older, left in March 1944. The bulk of the 92d Division, activated in October 1942, departed in September 1944, the same month that the 84th Division, activated at the same time, shipped out. There were still a number of National Guard as well as older new divisions whose commitment overseas came after a longer

period of training than that of either the 93d or 92d Division. The 2d Cavalry Division, proceeding overseas a year after activation, was a special case. After allowances for stripping and conversions from experimental to standard types of divisions are made in the cases of a number of other divisions, the Negro divisions proceeded overseas after what was about a normal training period in point of time.
Despite dire reports and predictions, the divisions had no particularly spectacular delays in their training careers. As planned in 1942, the training year of a division started fifteen days after activation, with seventeen weeks of basic and individual training, thirteen of unit training, fourteen of combined arms training, and eight weeks of review and air-mechanized training. Thus, after a year of training, a division that had not been handicapped by interruptions and stripping of personnel was about ready to proceed into maneuvers and then overseas. As both the oldest and the youngest of the Negro divisions, in its two versions the 2d Cavalry departed farthest from this pattern. The units of this division were activated at different times, with some of the units still inactive in 1942. As a result, training within the division proceeded on different levels. In May 1941, when the white units of the 3d Cavalry Brigade and the field artillery battalions showed every sign of being ready by mid-July for inspection of recruit and unit training as called for in mobilization training plans, the Negro units of the 4th Cavalry Brigade, assembled and filled more slowly, could only be expected to be prepared for recruit training inspection, since they would not complete thirteen weeks of initial training of selectees until 5 July.76
Of the two Negro infantry divisions, the senior 93d had the more nearly usual training career. It was activated and trained as a unit at a single post. The younger 92d had the advantage of continuity of top command. Aside from the Regular Army 25th Infantry regiment and the 368th Infantry, activated a year before in March 1941, the 93d Division was filled with selective service men, and even the 25th and 368th, by the time the division was activated, were practically filled with new inductees as well. The 92d Division was made up wholly of newly activated units, with all but its cadre coming directly from reception centers. The cadre for the 92d Division, furnished on 31 August 1942, consisted of 128 officers and 1,200 enlisted men from the 93d Division, although the 93d had felt that, considering the training problems which it faced, three months was not enough time to prepare an adequate division cadre. In addition to the cadre for the 92d, the 93d Division provided cadres for almost every other type of unit.77
Except for the training problems common to most Negro units-a preponderance of slow learners, inadequate leadership in both officer and noncommissioned officer ranks, rapid turnover of enlisted and officer personnel through routine attrition and transfers to provide cadres and to rid units of unsatisfactory men, and strained morale relations-the

divisions proceeded with their training as prescribed by Army Ground Forces. Portions of the training cycle were repeated to fix training in the minds of slow learners or of new men arrived to replace men now discharged 'or transferred. Learning by rote was frequently used.78 Both units received extensions of phases of their training cycles.
Despite training difficulties, observers from higher headquarters found the divisions progressing better than many had expected. General McNair of Army Ground Forces, returning from a west coast inspection trip in July 1942, reported in the War Council that the training of the 93d Division appeared to be excellent and as good as that of some of the older divisions.79 General McNarney, after stopping at Fort Huachuca in October 1942, informed General McNair that "The 93d Division appeared to be in fine shape and General Hall doing an excellent job." 80
The divisions went through their regularly scheduled training tests, passing some with satisfactory results and repeating others. Both infantry divisions went through the regular training cycle, with the 93d completing more of it than the 92d or, for that matter, than most other World War II divisions. The 93d's"D" (Division) exercises were held in the Huachuca Mountains in March 1943. From April to June 1943 the 93d participated in Third Army maneuvers in Louisiana, proceeding from there to the Desert Training Center (California-Arizona Maneuver Area, "C-AMA"), where in November 1943 it went through more exercises and participated in IV Corps maneuvers. The 92d Division had the same training career except that it missed the Desert Training Center post-maneuver cycle.
Departure for maneuvers was a red letter day for the divisions. Many smaller Negro units, especially quartermaster and engineer units, had participated regularly in maneuvers, transporting troops, maintaining roads, constructing bridges, and, at times, being thrown into combat exercises when the going became rough.
But no Negro organization as large as a division, pitted against other divisions, had participated in maneuvers prior to 1943.81
Before the departure of the 93d for the Louisiana Maneuver Area, its senior tactical commanders met for several conferences which emphasized that "the division would undoubtedly be under careful scrutiny primarily because it is the first Negro division to participate in maneuvers in World War II" 82 The location of the maneuver area deep in the Texas and Louisiana back country did not lessen the tension. The division suggested that it be relieved of the responsibility of furnishing umpires, usually exchanged by participating units, because the 73 required "must necessarily be comprised largely of colored lieutenants if company commanders are

to retain command of their organizations and battalion and higher staffs are to function as normally composed." 83 The division staff visualized that "utilization of colored and white officers acting respectively as umpires of colored and white divisions operating against each other may result in the creation of undesirable situations. It is believed highly desirable that all umpires be white."84 The division furnished umpires under a compromise by which units within divisions but not the divisions themselves interchanged umpires.85
Most worries about discipline in the division turned out to be groundless, although the greater care taken thereby may have influenced the end results favorably. Despite individual complaints of some citizens of the area, made almost immediately upon arrival of the 93d, 86 there were no racial disturbances. When the maneuvers closed the mayor of De Bidder, one of the Louisiana towns on the edge of the maneuver area, wrote to Secretary Stimson:
. . . to express my thanks and appreciation of the splendid deportment of the officers and men of the 93d Inf Div. (colored) during their stay in this area.
We anticipated no trouble before they came our way, and have given every effort to make their stay pleasant, cooperating with the officers to give the men every possible entertainment and recreation.
The troops have been very orderly and well disciplined, causing no trouble or apprehension that could encourage criticism-for which we are thankful.87
Less gratifying to the 93d than its good discipline and relations with civilian communities was its movement to the maneuvers. Departure from Fort Huachuca was itself a trial which revealed weaknesses within the division. Too many units showed command and disciplinary deficiencies in managing the movement. Clothing and equipment were often in poor shape or lacking; "very frequently, the organization commander was ignorant of these facts or had no reasonable explanation." Often orders were not understood. The loading of the division was hampered by engineers' lack of knowledge of lashing techniques; much work had to be done over. Some units therefore took an inordinately long time to load. One train carried a detail as far as Douglas to complete the lashing of vehicles. In one technical company, the officers had little knowledge of what was wrong with their slow, disorganized departure. In another technical company whose loading was equally slow "the work done by its officers, when any was done at all, was of a low order." The division's chief of staff, as commander of the last train, observed the entire process. He concluded that the division had four very weak units-two of them infantry regiments-whose staffs must not have been keeping their commanders fully informed, for "if they were really on the job there could not be such consistently poor results in certain lines, particularly in the question of discipline and equip-

ment." A large number of company commanders were weak, but this was not entirely their fault, for regimental and battalion commanders were not demanding results. Unit commanders within the division, the chief of staff concluded, "have either got to get results or get relieved. They have got to be impressed with the idea that they must practice what they are supposed to preach and check the functioning of lower units by constant following up of orders and requiring an exact compliance with instructions. If they don't they are sunk and so is the Division .... We cannot carry anybody along-not now."88
In contrast to the inauspicious omens of the departure from Fort Huachuca, the maneuvers of the 93d Division against the 85th Division, conducted under the Third Army with , the commander of the XV Corps, Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip, as director, were fairly successful. These maneuvers themselves, unlike earlier ones, began with a series of exercises and continued with problems in which the idea of winning and losing was discarded in favor of solving each problem "slowly, properly, and correctly." 89 "The maneuver was satisfactory, generally," Headquarters, Army Ground Forces, observed of one phase, adding that "men of the 93d Division obviously had received detailed, painstaking instruction, much of which was not absorbed." 90 Staff and command planning and functioning were often faulty as well. At the end of the maneuvers, Director Headquarters, as required, rated all units, with the tooth Battalion considered excellent, the 85th Division very satisfactory and the 93d, which had received the close attention of all observers, including some who came to the maneuvers extremely skeptical about the division's performance, rated unsatisfactory. But most observers concluded that the division had been well trained. Its Negro officers were generally considered satisfactory. The men of the division showed no lack of knowledge, but observers sensed a lack of will to apply that knowledge. Some of its soldiers felt, observers reported, that this was not their war. When leadership was good, especially at the noncommissioned level, the 93d performed well. Otherwise, it "fell apart." 91 But the division showed a steady improvement throughout, progressing from an unsatisfactory performance of technical duties at the beginning to satisfactory at the end.
The general feeling was that the division had performed better than expected.92 Not all of the officers at Director Headquarters felt that it deserved so low a formal rating as it received. While they admitted that the 85th was clearly the better trained division, they did not think that its superiority was so marked as the ratings suggested.93 Both

divisions, AGF determined, needed additional seasoning. Both left Louisiana for the Desert Training Center after the conclusion of the maneuvers in June.
The 93d was one of thirteen out of sixty-four infantry divisions trained in the United States to receive this "graduate" combined training, for the California-Arizona Maneuver Area closed in April I 944 for lack of sufficient supporting service troops in that year of manpower problems.94 When General McNair observed the training activities of the division in August, some improvements were noted, but some of the older problems, especially slowness in executing missions and deficiencies in supervision, were still present.95
In the meantime, the 93d Division's personnel continued to undergo shifts and changes: enlisted men transferred out and new ones came in; the numbers of white officers decreased while the numbers of Negro officers increased. No great change occurred in the AGCT composition of the division as a result of these transfers. On 31 August 1943, the division's AGCT distribution stood: Class I, 24; Class II, 54I; Class III, 2,323; Class IV, 5,616, and Class V, 6,919 (including 195 illiterates).96 In the eighteen months between mid-1942 and the end of 1943, the number of white officers in the division decreased from 634 to 279 and the number of Negro officers increased from 250 to 575.97
At the close of Army maneuvers in ,July 1943, one infantry battalion was reorganized as a unit with all Negro officers by transferring officers from other units of the division on recommendation of unit commanders. This battalion was later reorganized again after it was observed to have made less progress than expected and after a request for a young Negro major or lieutenant colonel with a superior rating could not be filled. Company commanders, with one exception, were first lieutenants; two additional captains recommended for this battalion were not accepted. How careful the officer selection was, based on other small unit commanders' recommendations, cannot be gauged. But several of those recommended and some accepted for the battalion were later transferred out of the division as unsuitable or as surplus officers.98
The training of the 93d Division in Louisiana, successful particularly from the point of view that no serious disciplinary problems involving racial friction arose during the period, removed some of the reluctance about committing larger Negro units to maneuver areas for participation in exercises against white units. Third Army recommended that for fall maneuvers the 92d Division, scheduled to complete combined training on 23 October, be included in Maneuver Number 5 (6 December 1943 to 30 January 1944) and that the 2d Cavalry Division, less one

brigade, be ordered to the Desert Training Center upon completion of its combined training on 4 December 1943.99 Ground Forces at first suggested that the 2d Cavalry Division go instead to Louisiana, for that area was more suitable to horse cavalry, and that the 92d, since it was already in Arizona, go to the Desert Training Center.100 Plans for the 2d Cavalry Division were altered by the decision to send it overseas for disbandment. The 2d Cavalry was, however, considered to have had excellent training methods. "Constant recital of duties apparently is producing results and familiarizing individuals with their duties," Ground Forces headquarters observed. "Planning, ingenuity, enthusiasm, military courtesy, and discipline are outstanding. The division commander appears determined to produce a trained combat unit.101 for The division's 4th Cavalry Brigade, located at Camp Lockett, California, in the Southern Frontier Land Sector of the Western Defense Command, was highly commended for its steadiness during the disturbances of the summer of 1943; squadrons of both its 10th and 28th Cavalry helped control the giant forest fires of September 1943 in the Cleveland National Forest. "There is no telling how large these fires might have been had it not been for the rapid mobilization of your men from Lockett," the supervisor of the national forest wrote to the commander of the brigade.102
The 92d Division, following the 93d into Fort Huachuca, completed its training, including its D series, there. It participated in the Sixth Louisiana Maneuvers from February to April 1944, receiving a satisfactory rating at their conclusion.103 Most observers, both of training at Fort Huachuca and of the maneuvers, got the impression that the 92d was as well if not better trained than the 93d.104 It had the advantage of following the 93d Division into maneuvers. Neither the qualms nor the doubts accompanying the 93d's participation were as largely present in the 92d's exercises.
Before departing from Louisiana the 92d got the news that, in accordance with the War Department's decision, one combat team would begin preparations for overseas movement upon returning to Fort Huachuca. To the assembled men and officers of the division its commander, Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond, concluding his remarks on the last phase of the maneuvers, announced the decision and tried anew to weld his unit into a self-respecting whole with a visible mission:

. . . I told this division when it was a cadre of 1400 men and zoo Officers a year and a half ago that it had a future, and it has. I have watched it grow, I have watched the reaction of the men and the Officers. I have seen more reaction in the last two months come out on the surface than I have ever seen before. I see men salute better, perform their duties better, have a better idea of their job, and I won't say more cheerfully, because there has always been cheerfulness, except in individual cases. The 92d has a high standard of performance. It has not failed in this maneuver period. It has not failed to meet that standard .... It has not been but four hours ago that the Army Commander, the Corps Commander, another Corps Commander of the zest Corps who saw the 365 at Atterbury, and three other Division Commanders told me the same thing. But I have told you before that you did not get that sort of stuff-and you don't get it-out of a book. You get it out of convincing yourself that you can do it .... Four days ago, I was visited by three Officers from Washington, with instructions that this Division is slated for combat duty in an active theater in the near future; that the first element to leave is a combat team, and that combat team is the 3-7-0! with the 588th following, and engineers, signal, quartermaster, medical, and other components of that combat team. Now what does that mean? There is not a man here who does not realize the importance of it. This is a Colored Division, with both white and Colored Officers. This is a cohesive military unit. You have just shown it. This is a unit that the Colored race should be proud of, and they will be before we are through; and not only the Colored race, but every American who knows enough to read about his war . . . you must take great satisfaction in the fact that you are now about to actually prove your worth.105
The 92d Division had transferred men to the 93d Division, the 2d Cavalry Division, and the 364th Infantry when these units left the country.106 It now received men from the 372d Infantry and other units in preparation for its own departure. By May it had an overage both of officers and enlisted men.107 Overstrength in enlisted men was needed to replace mentally and physically marginal men, of whom the division still had more than a thousand in August. Supervision and observation of the division during post-maneuver training and during the preparation of the 370th Regimental Combat Team for overseas movement were even closer than for the 93d Division. During the period the 92d was visited and inspected by General Marshall, Under Secretary Patterson, Maj. Gen. Ray Porter and seventeen members of his G-3 staff, General McNair and ten officers of his Ground Forces' staff, Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas and three members of his Fourth Army staff, by Maj. Gen. Louis A. Craig with five members of his XXIII Corps staff, and by visiting Mexican generals.108
Most impressions of the 92d and especially of its command on the eve of departure were favorable. "Almond has done a fine job," General McNair observed, "and believes that his division will fight. My own estimate of the value of these troops has risen as they emerge from the painfully slow process of drumming things into them. They are, I believe, a better outfit than the

93d when it left this country, and their future will be a most interesting contribution as to the value of negro troops."109 Secretary Patterson observed more guardedly that "The standard of performance was not as high as in the other divisions visited. General Almond and his staff have worked hard, however, and deserve a good deal of credit for the way in which they are handling a difficult job. I doubt that any one could handle the situation to better advantage."110
These two observations contained the kernel of representative approaches to the larger Negro units and especially to the 92d Division: that the major importance of these units was to provide documentation for the future employment of Negro troops and that their commanders, considering the difficulties with which they were faced, should be given all possible credit for doing as well as they did-no one was likely to do any better. In the subsequent employment of these units both approaches were to emerge frequently.
In the meantime, Fort Huachuca from April to August 1944 was the scene of more than ordinary preparations as the 92d Division transferred men and received replacements, reorganized units and reclassified officers, dealt with the multitudinous problems of Fort Huachuca and Fry, entertained and displayed its progress for visiting dignitaries, dealt with rumors and reports in the Negro press, prepared a specially selected and constructed advance combat team, and, all the while, continued the usual training and processing for movement overseas. The War Department and the Advisory Committee were awaiting with some curiosity the results of the larger units' assignments and their "contribution as to the value of negro troops."


Previous Chapter    Next Chapter

page created 15 January 2002

Return to the Table of Contents

Return to CMH Online