Chapter XX
Service Units Around the World
Whether they were of combat, combat support, or service types, the smaller Negro units were easier for the Army to ship and to employ overseas than, large units. Many of the smaller units were formally converted to other types in the theaters. Many were employed on tasks for which they had not been specifically trained. Some were at times relatively unemployed just as they had been before shipment. But for the most part they were used, generally in conjunction with larger or similar types of white units, on tasks for which their training and organization fitted them.
In greatest demand and most consistently used were Negro engineer and quartermaster units. They were also among the first to be called for and shipped overseas. There were times when special circumstances of geography, mission, readiness status, or personal preference caused delays and hesitancy in the employment of even these units. But usually they could be placed on shipment lists from the beginning, with reasonable assurance of acceptance and use at their destinations. Their shipment, especially in the deployment of American troops to the South Pacific, to Iran, and to India in early 1942, was dictated by a necessity with which other considerations, of such great importance in later months of that year, did not at first interfere. Although the first units generally had less training than those who followed they were often of greater value than similar units shipped later to fill less urgent needs.
A host of small units were employed in every theater and in almost every type of operation, forward and rear. Negro engineers were ahead of other ground and air troops in the early days at Port Moresby in New Guinea. They went in as soon as possible after the successive invasions across the broad Pacific, pushing out ahead of other ground troops at times to construct the airfields required for the planes that kept the ever-accelerating Pacific timetable on schedule. On bulldozers, in trucks, and on foot they cut their way through the frigid wilds of Canada and Alaska and through the jungles of Burma, building and improving roads for military transport. They provided a garrison for Liberia and protection for the American-built Roberts Field there. They provided antiaircraft defenses for Trinidad in the Caribbean and for the Pacific islands on the route to Australia and, later, on the route to the Philippines. Negro port and amphibious truck companies were attached to Army and Marine divisions and corps for the invasions of the Pacific islands, notably Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Port com-

parties manned great ports around the world, and sometimes places that were never ports before. Negro engineer, chemical, and quartermaster troops landed at Salerno and Anzio. A Negro barrage balloon unit, the only American unit of its type present, unleashed its captive balloons to protect the cross-Channel invasion fleet and the troops on the Normandy beaches from low-flying aircraft, while amphibious truck, quartermaster service, and ordnance ammunition companies there began jobs which were to last through V-E Day. Negro quartermaster truck and transport companies were more or less permanently attached to infantry and armored divisions fighting across Europe, many of them, through their long attachments, becoming almost integral parts of the divisions to which they were attached, some of them joining in the fighting as riflemen when needed. Medical ambulance companies attached to divisions and hospitals evacuated wounded to the rear and medical sanitary companies loaded evacuated patients aboard ship for return to hospitals in England. Companies of ordnance ammunition battalions stocked and dispensed ammunition along the routes of the armies. Smoke generator companies set their smoke pots and generators just behind front lines at Anzio and along European rivers, sometimes, as along the Garigliano, mingling their smoke positions with infantry outposts. In rear areas, at depots, bases, and ports, service units handled the supplies required to support the armies and the services, while quartermaster truckers sped them forward over the Red Ball Express route in Europe, the Motor Transport System in Iran, the Stilwell Road in Burma, and numberless coral roads in the Pacific. Along these roads, the engineers quarried surfacing materials, built and restored bridges, moved tons of earth, constructed warehouses, depots, and living quarters, and kept the roads open for troop and supply movements. Two hospitals were manned fully and three partially by Negroes in Burma, Liberia, the South Pacific, and England. A Negro WAC unit cleared up a gigantic backlog of undelivered mail in Europe. Combat support units went into combat either as members of groups or as separate battalions assigned to corps and attached to divisions, particularly in Europe.
These were all normal functions for units of their types. But the variety in the employment of Negro troops so far outstripped anything seen in World War I or contemplated at the beginning of World War II that this fact alone is of prime significance in any account of the use of Negro troops in World War II. The sheer quantity of work performed by Negro units, often operating on round-the-clock schedules, was tremendous. None of it was accomplished without travail, for the soldiers and their officers brought with them all the problems accumulated in their training periods and acquired some new ones by virtue of their new surroundings and, in some cases, their new duties. Only in exceptional cases did their movement overseas change markedly either the will or the skill of commanders or commanded.
The use of such units was so widespread that a detailed narrative of their contributions would require a separate volume. Most small units, their designations and functions changed as the

need arose, must therefore remain anonymous in this account. The ease of shipment of these units was in direct relation to the need for them; their assignment to duty was equally a function of need, though need was at times created on the spot as a headquarters found more and more duties that could be attended to if soldiers were forthcoming to perform them. The quality of their training played a less important role in their shipment, although individual unit reputations for performance in the field were directly related to the continuing use of skills acquired in training, especially in the cases of combat support and the more technical of the service units. Units shipped "in current status of training," a phrase used generally to denote a unit that had not completed its training but which was nevertheless shipped because it was needed or because it would complete its training at its destination, often performed as well as better trained units which went out to areas that had relatively less need for them. A relatively untrained unit, therefore, was often as successfully employed when faced with a visible mission and a demonstrated need for its services as a well-trained unit employed in a routine manner. Certain units, like the engineer dump truck companies, always in demand, always used, and almost always Negro, were considered of great value by the using commands and were therefore well and fully employed; others, like chemical smoke generator companies, also with a heavy Negro representation, were less generally used for their primary missions, often being put to guarding warehouses and prisoners and operating depots. When formally converted to other missions, units developed high efficiency in their new tasks when they were convinced that these tasks were of more obvious and immediate value than their former assignments. Such was the case, for example, in two quartermaster service companies whose personnel came from disbanded units. These men learned rapidly, gaining "in efficiency until approximately seventy per cent were performing technical duties and only thirty per cent were performing general service duties."1
Because their number and variety precludes a full-length discussion, units examined here have been chosen to illustrate the varieties of work performed by the 4,000-odd small Negro units in World War II. The soldiers in these units acquired during the war years a wider variety of technical experience than most of them would have gained in a greater number of years of civilian life. Men who had had little chance to work as interstate truckers, as heavy construction workers, and as telephone repairmen were now carrying tons of materiel in heavy trucks and trailers over strange roads, operating bulldozers and cranes in exotic ports, and stringing wire and setting up communications systems in jungles and in the war devastated areas of western Europe. When placed against the training backgrounds of these units and their men, the achievements of both the Army and Negro soldiers in so extensive an employment cannot be lightly dismissed.

The First Units Out
In Task Force 6814, the first large task force to be shipped to the Pacific after Pearl Harbor, were the 810th and 811th Engineer Aviation Battalions. The 811th was a new unit. Its first men arrived at Langley Field, Virginia, on 7 December 1941. It was little more than a month old when the task force departed on 23 January 1 942-bound for Australia, and for later transshipment to New Caledonia should conditions met in Australia permit. The 810th,. activated on 26 June 1941 at MacDill Field, Florida,2 was a veteran unit by then current standards. The two units illustrate the differences between organizations whose relative readiness could be overlooked when need was the decisive factor in their employment. Their long careers overseas, high spots and doldrums, also illustrate the employment of Negro aviation engineers on the one hand and of Negro service units in general on the other.
The 810th, with a cadre from the 41st Engineers and four Regular officers, had a well-spent if brief six months of training before leaving the New York Port of Embarkation. Its green men learned to operate heavy equipment by building roads, bridges, and fortifications, and by doing general construction work at their home station and at other new and expanding posts.
The companies of the 810th were activated separately and therefore trained and worked at different levels. Company A, in August 1941, built a practice bomb target at Mullett Key, a small island at the entrance to Tampa Bay, about twenty miles from MacDill by water. With its personnel and its four trucks, one compressor, two D-4 tractors, and one command car, it went out to the island, site of a ruined fort used during the Spanish-American War, and proceeded to clean up the flat, mosquito-ridden, swampy key. The men cleared the island of palmetto trees and brush, losing track of the number of rattlesnakes they killed though they preserved the skins to make shoes and belts for their wives and sweethearts. They repaired the island's long unused rain-catching equipment to provide a water supply. They acquired an old sixty-foot tug from the district engineer office, patched and painted it up, and operated it with their own crew, carrying supplies and men back and forth.
Other companies took over the Mullett Key project later. The men of these units acquired from their training on this subtropical island a conditioning and resourcefulness that was to stand them in good stead sooner than was then expected. At MacDill, one company participated in a local maneuver, testing theories of air base defense. Another constructed bombing targets and a drainage system at Morrison Field, Florida, and taxiways at the Charleston, South Carolina, airport. Still another, three weeks after activation, went to Lake Charles to take part in the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941, working with a battalion of the 21st Engineer Aviation Regiment, a unit experimenting with new materials for airfield construction. This company later moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where it constructed camouflaged revetments for observation planes, and to Wilmington,

North Carolina, repeating the job for fighter planes and building asphalt connecting taxiways to the revetments. With the help of Tampa citizens, elements still at MacDill Field provided their own recreation by taking an old post theater and converting it into a service club.
The companies at Wilmington and Charleston moved to Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, in January 1942 to prepare for overseas movement. Headquarters Company and Company A, 810th Engineer Aviation Battalion, still at MacDill, left on New Year's Day for Savannah where, in a tented area, in cold rain and red mud, they built a complete taxiway and hard-standings for the air base. Despite the difficulties of living and working at the new base, the tense atmosphere of the month following Pearl Harbor and the obvious necessity of the work kept the unit's morale high.3 The 810th as a whole was about as well trained in its six months as could be expected.
With one week's warning orders, the companies assembled at the New York Port of Embarkation. They discovered that they were "pretty much on our own" in making preparations, for no standard procedure had yet been worked out . for moving such a unit. Seventy flatcars of automotive and heavy construction equipment were made ready and shipped to the west coast. At New York, the unit bivouacked on the SS America, then being converted to a troop ship in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. After two days of loading and unloading ships, it boarded the USAT J. W. McAndrew, which, in a convoy of six other ships bearing the units of Task Force 6814, some of which were later to become famous as the Americal Division, departed New York for Australia on 23 January. On shipboard the 810th was joined by the relatively untrained 811th, which had spent its one month of service becoming acquainted with the experimental mats and equipment of the 91st Engineers in unusually heavy snow at Langley Field.4
The convoy arrived in Melbourne on 26 February, landing the next day. Only a few small forces of American troops had been through Melbourne earlier. The Australians enthusiastically greeted the appearance of the thousands of task force troops. The 810th loaded aboard a narrow-gauge railway the same day, proceeding to Camp barley. At every street and road crossing crowds of Australian men, women, and children gathered and gave the troops aboard the train cheers of welcome. During the week in Australia, a detachment of the 810th Battalion kept busy at Melbourne docks, unloading ships and reloading them with ordnance supplies for immediate use. The remainder of the battalion went through vigorous cross-country marches to loosen ship-bound muscles. The 810th and 811th reloaded on 7 March. Aboard the USAT Erickson, which missed its convoy because of engine trouble, they proceeded to New Caledonia alone under the escort of a converted Allied merchantman.
In Noumea the units, both of which were later attached to the Americal Division, went to work before unloading. Companies A, B, and C of the

810th moved ashore to help unload ships of the task force already tied up in Noumea harbor; the Headquarters Company remained aboard the Erickson in mid-channel with a French ship, the Polynesian, tied up alongside. The men of the 810th's company and the French crew of the Polynesian worked together unloading the Erickson. Despite the language barrier, the two crews worked well together, unloading the ship in four days instead of the estimated eight, for which the 810th company received a letter of commendation from the skipper of the Erickson. The 811th unloaded and proceeded thirty miles up the coast to Bouloupan to work on roads.
A part of the 810th's heavy supplies had arrived from San Francisco. When sufficient supplies had been gathered for the battalion to operate independently, it moved out to the Nepoui peninsula, 245 kilometers away. It took several weeks to move equipment up over roads and bridges never intended for heavy vehicles, but during April the battalion was ready to take over the construction of Plaine des Gaiacs airport from the civilian construction company which had started the job. This airport, to be surfaced with iron ore hauled in by truck from an ore pit seven miles away, was planned as a bomber base. It was understood by the men of the 810th that they were engaged in a race to finish their task before the American invasion of the southern Solomons, then being discussed by the joint Chiefs of Staff. Their work was effective enough for Maj. Gen. Laurence S. Kuter to describe it with approval and in some detail to the War Department .General Council. He noted as well that while their work was continuing, a ship arrived with aviation gasoline just in time for the Battle of the Coral Sea. The port was 180 miles from the airport and after the captain of the ship anchored in an uncharted roadstead, the gasoline was unloaded and rafted ashore by the men of the 810th Battalion.5
While the bulk of the 810th worked at Plaine Des Gaiacs, platoons of two of its companies built fighter strips and docks nearer camp. One platoon of Company C repaired an old French airfield at Koumac for emergency landings. Originally the platoon was directed merely to level and lengthen the strip, but after the first week of construction the commander of Task Force 68 1 4, Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, inspected the strip and ordered that it be made into an all-weather runway. A second platoon moved to Koumac. During the next week the company received further orders that the strip must be enlarged to handle B-17's. At least twelve parking spaces had to be built for the Flying Fortresses. The job had to be finished by the end of July. A third platoon was therefore added, plus a platoon of the 811th Battalion and twelve drivers and trucks from the 57th Engineer Combat Battalion of the Americal Division. The units worked in shifts, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The field was finished on time and on 1 August a squadron of B-17's landed at Koumac. The next morning the heavy bombers took off to bomb targets in the Solomons. Units at the Plaine Des Gaiacs airport, with the help of Javanese labor gangs hired to dig drainage ditches and spread the water and calcium chlo-

ride used in compacting iron ore and settling dust, worked round-the-clock until the field became operational. The B-17's came in to bomb Guadalcanal before the field was completely finished; work on the field continued until the end of 1942.
Equipment for the younger 811th trickled in slowly for months. The battalion began to work on airfield projects in April, widening highways into landing strips, building dispersal areas, and constructing shelters at Tontauta, learning its job as it worked. The unit's headquarters company transported crated planes from docks to assembly points thirty-five miles from Noumea. Two platoons, using only the available three dump trucks, a ten-ton roller, and hand tools, constructed a fighter strip at Bourake peninsula in a valley bounded on three sides by hills and by the sea on the fourth. The strip was in operation eight days after construction began. Although hastily constructed, this field was in continuous use for over a year, until artillery units on maneuvers rutted it beyond repair.
From then on the operations of the 810th and the 811th, building landing strips and maintaining airfields, were typical of the aviation engineers. Platoons and companies often operated individually on their projects. On 7 September 1942, for example, Company B of the 810th left the battalion and proceeded to Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. Its ship, the Brastigi, arrived on schedule but, during unloading, received word that a Japanese task force was headed for Espiritu Santo. The ship weighed anchor and fled, leaving two officers and forty-five men ashore without additional clothing or provisions. The Brastigi headed for Efate, arriving the next day. The following day the ship brought the company back to Espiritu Santo, where it built a bomber field in a teakwood forest. It did not rejoin the rest of the battalion until after its arrival on Guadalcanal on 2 May 1943, In the meantime, the company acquired the battalion's first Negro officers. The remaining companies of the battalion in the intervening months constructed roads, built radar stations, and worked ration dumps, often under enemy air attack. Assembling on Guadalcanal on 15 June, the unit built installations, taxiways, and hard-standings for the Thirteenth Air Force and did small jobs, many of them not formally assigned but considered "necessary to cultivate the respect and good will of other organizations." 6
Guadalcanal's Carney Field (Bomber One), the only field on the island from which bombers could operate efficiently, was deteriorating. It had been built months before in the rainy season. The 810th Battalion rebuilt it and in four days the taxiway was back in operation. The battalion did reconstruction jobs on other fields, built new hangers, and performed construction jobs for the Navy. With Navy and Marine Corps units it built Kili Field; after the field became operational, the battalion's Company B maintained it. Though the men of the unit, now overseas two years, were tired physically and mentally, morale remained good and efficiency high. From Christmas through 8 March 1944 there were no disciplinary problems serious enough for confinement. Malarial discipline was good. While on Espiritu

Santo, Company B, despite an epidemic on the island, had no cases, establishing a record in malaria control. After rotation began in March 1944, morale swung upward, but as quotas declined in later months-and, in some months, disappeared-the morale of the older men fell. Furloughs to Australia were limited. In light of developments in Australia, where, by mid-1944 communities were requesting that the Booker T. Washington Club at the Sydney Leave Center be closed and the Victualler's Association was proposing to close hotel bars to Negro soldiers, the theater was casting about for a substitute leave center. It finally settled upon Oro Bay, a solution heartily resented by Negro troops.7 The 810th itself had no unit holiday until 26 June 1944, when it took the day off to celebrate its third anniversary. Despite its early arrival in the theater and despite the fact that it remained overseas until the end of the war, the 810th never went to a rest camp or had time allotted to train its replacements.8
Upon completion of its tour on Guadalcanal, in July 1944, the 810th Engineer Aviation Battalion was assigned to the Southwest Pacific Area's Services of Supply (USASOS) and moved to Biak, where it built a hospital for the 41st Field Hospital. Attached to Sixth Army in November, it was assigned to the Luzon invasion forces, leaving Biak on 4 January 1 945 and arriving at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines on 13 January. With its companies attached to the 1178th and 1180th Engineer Construction Groups, a typical operational arrangement for smaller engineer units in the last years of the war, the battalion went ashore at Yellow Beach and White Beach 2 (San Fabian). After the landing, the battalion filled and laid mat on hard-standings, constructed unloading aprons, maintained roads, constructed and operated water points, built tank foundations and fire trenches, painted and erected road signs, built tent hardstands and a 1,000-bed hospital of prefabricated buildings at San Fabian, constructed a nurses area for the hospital, rebuilt and constructed bridges, replaced treadways on a Bailey bridge, strengthened and maintained ponton bridges, and made topographic surveys of proposed signal and quartermaster areas. Morale improved, since "For the first time in three years overseas, this battalion is experiencing civilization." 9 Discipline in this battalion, referred to by its men as the "rain-or-shine-we-go-all-the-time" 810th, thereafter slipped again, with one man trying to murder and succeeding in wounding an officer and another confined for assault. It was December before the battalion got all of its original men home on furlough; by then the war had been over four months.
The 811th remained on New Caledonia until the spring of 1944. At the beginning of 1943 it had enough work to keep every man busy on a twenty-hour day for seven months. New engineer units and a unit of Navy Seabees moved in and took over some of the projects. The 811th, now an experienced unit, and the Seabees started surfacing two

nearly equal areas with similar equipment. The 811th finished first and helped the Seabees finish theirs. The 811th won the island record for hangar construction when a platoon of Company A put up a B-24 hangar in twenty-one days. Its Seabee neighbors held the record for constructing a radio range. When given a similar assignment, the battalion's Company C decided to wrest away the Seabees' record. It placed the same number of men on the job that the Seabees had used with the promise that for every day under the Seabees' record the soldiers would receive a day off. Despite heavy rains, the unit beat the Seabees' time by thirteen days.
After having undertaken almost every conceivable task connected with airport construction, the battalion moved to Guadalcanal in March 1944. It found mainly odd jobs waiting to be done there. The 811th, like many other Negro units, was to discover that assignment to a new headquarters often meant demonstrating all over again that it was capable of doing even the average job well.10
In September the 811th left for Honolulu. Despite its nearly three years on jungle islands and its return to "civilization," morale took a drop, for the unit found that Hawaii was a three-year rotation area. Morale took another drop when, assigned to Hickam Field with prospects of living in permanent barracks and running considerably ahead of schedule constructing hangars, it found itself without warning and without reason taken off the job in mid-afternoon and ordered into trucks. By 1800 it had left the field, wondering what was ahead of it. Morale dropped again when, having begun to get settled at Bellows Field, it learned the reason for its sudden transfer. There had been a disturbance in civilian workers' barracks down the road from the battalion and the newly arrived Negro battalion was thought responsible. It was officially made plain later that the battalion had nothing to do with the occurrence, but by then it was settled at Bellows Field and the harm was done. While stationed at Bellows Field the 811th worked on jobs from one end of Oahu to the other until, on 10 December 1944, it entered the jungle Training Center to prepare for further use in forward areas. After a period of amphibious training, it left Hawaii on 28 March 1945 for Iwo Jima.11 On Iwo Jima, while building airstrips and quarters for bomber groups, its platoons kept running into holed up Japanese as their dozer blades cut into caves. The hiding Japanese were promptly captured by 811th troops or by accompanying infantry patrols.
The 810th and 811th Engineer Aviation Battalions were among the Negro units with the longest overseas careers. Almost as long, and similar in some respects, were those of the 96th and 91st Engineer General Service Regiments, which arrived in Brisbane, Australia, on 6 April 1942, organized as separate battalions. These units left the next night for Townsville aboard their same ships, arriving on 10 April. There the 96th

remained for ten days, setting up its camp, furnishing labor for the Australians, and becoming acquainted with Townsville, which the troops found quite hospitable.12 On 20 April, the 96th moved eleven miles out from Townsville where it began clearing a 7,000-foot landing strip by hand. Two companies remained in the new location until mid-June, constructing three 7,000-foot turf strips by hand. The rest of the battalion prepared to move to Port Moresby, New Guinea, where a small Australian garrison had been under Japanese air attack since 3 February.13
Port Moresby, on the Gulf of Papua near the southeastern tip of New Guinea, had at this time inadequate facilities for either its own defense or for the receipt of aid from Australian bases 700 miles away. Its port facilities were inadequate; its two existing airfields were small, poorly built, and so subject to continuous bombing that they were at first used only as refueling points for planes flying from Australia to attack the enemy. New fields and improvements for the existing fields and port were necessary before Port Moresby could either be defended or used as a base for operations elsewhere in New Guinea.
The 96th Engineers went to Port Moresby to improve existing prewar airfields there. On 20 April 1942, two officers and forty enlisted men departed Australia by plane to survey the area and prepare for the arrival of the remainder of the battalion. The rest of the battalion, less two companies, arrived at Port Moresby on 28 April, becoming the first American troop unit in New Guinea.
That night Port Moresby suffered its thirty-third enemy raid. Japanese Zero's strafed several areas, especially the airdrome at Seven-Mile where Company B of the 96th, machine-gunned by low-flying Japanese planes several times during the raid, became the first American Negro unit to come under enemy fire during the war. The arrival of twenty-six American Airacobras the next night cheered the troops of the 96th, whose companies mounted their.50-caliber machine guns and 37-mm. guns for action. Despite almost daily raids by fighters and bombers, spirits within the companies were high for the unit felt that it was "doing something" which might help to end the war.
Equipment, much of it in poor condition, arrived from Townsville on 5 May. The companies were now able to work more rapidly and effectively on their airfields. On 8 May the battalion was incorporated into the defense of Port Moresby and alerted against a possible invasion by Japanese on the way to what was to be the Battle of the Coral Sea. Raids on the landing fields increased, with both enemy and friendly planes crashing on and near the fields. To the 96th, the greatest loss possible was the occasional destruction of road graders or tractors, items which were in short supply. New steel landing mats arrived in mid-May, but unloading was delayed by the lack of proper cranes. Equipment in general was poor or lacking. The unit got its first satisfactory equipment

at the end of June after the companies left in Australia rejoined.
By July, the battalion's units were all working on separate projects: Company A on Kila Drome, Company B on Seven-Mile Drome, Company C at Nine-Mile Quarry, operating rock crushers, the 1st Platoon of Company D on Bomana Field, and the 2d Platoon on Laloki Drome. Later in the summer, other engineer units arrived to take over certain of the projects; the 808th Aviation Engineer Battalion, a white unit, arrived on 26 July and took over the work on Laloki Drome; the 91st Engineers, left behind in Australia by the 96th, arrived in early September and took over the operation of Nine-Mile Quarry.
Port Moresby, mainly a way station for bombers before, was now becoming a build-up area for the fighting to come in New Guinea. Infantry and additional service units arrived in late September. To improve the port, formerly able to handle but one ship at a time, the 96th in the same month began to build a causeway from the harbor to Tatana Island, six miles away. On Tatana it built docks capable of handling six and, later, nine ships at a time.
Gradually, as messes, barracks, and roads were required by the enlarged base, the work of the 96th at Port Moresby assumed more of the nature of general engineer projects. But the 96th was still required to be prepared for supporting efforts in case of emergency. When Australian forces stopped the Japanese drive on Port Moresby on 14 September, the enemy was but thirty-two miles away. On 25 September, when the Japanese retreated toward Kokoda, north of the Owen Stanley Mountains, a 37-mm. gun and crew from the 96th went to help drive the enemy back, but by the time they arrived at Kokoda the Japanese had already left. The Japanese never got to Port Moresby but a group of the 96th, under unusual circumstances, went to Buna during the fighting there. In December 1942, Port Moresby had tanks needed by the Allied ground forces at Buna, but no one was available to unload the tanks under heavy fire and then defend the cargo until consignee troops could take them over. American and Australian officials at Port Moresby asked for volunteers from engineer units there. Nearly i5o men of the 96th, by now enlarged to a regiment, volunteered. To select the required fifteen men the regiment conducted a gunnery competition on medium field pieces. The group of fifteen men making the highest score and one officer put out to sea for Buna on 8 December. They landed the tanks on the beach there without mishap, but constant Japanese fire killed one and wounded another of the 96th's engineers.14
Despite frequent air attacks on Port Moresby, the 96th, primarily because of excellent precautions, lost not a single man from bombs, although it did have casualties from explosions and plane crashes. All of the airdromes in the Moresby area owed something to the work of this regiment. The construction of the Tatana causeway and docks, for which General MacArthur personally commended the unit, more than doubled the capacity of the port. In addition to the construction and maintenance of airdromes and docks, the unit was engaged in miscellaneous projects:

five months of labor at the engineer dump; loading, shipping, and laying pierced steel landing mat for emergency strips; repairing and extending the runway at Kokoda during the Japanese retreat; constructing buildings for Advance Section, U. S. Army Services of Supply; and constructing a 500-bed Air Forces hospital. After an inspection and review on the anniversary of its arrival in New Guinea, Brig. Gen. Hanford McNider, then of the Combined Operational Service Command, declared to the 96th's men:
Fellow soldiers, a year ago today, when you stepped ashore as the first American troop unit in New Guinea, you were making history. You've been making it ever since. You've had a part in the building and upkeep of all our airfields; and thus you've helped make possible the destruction of the convoy in the Bismarck Sea, the flying of the infantry over the mountains, a hundred enemy actions. You've contributed your share to every crack we've taken at the Japs. You've carried out important works projects even unloaded ships so we could eat and fight. You've built roads and the mains which give us power and light. You're one of the work-ingest outfits in this man's Army. All of us here are proud of you. All America will be proud of you when your record gets into the histories. Some of you have been to war with the tanks. You all know about bombs from hanging them on planes and having them hung on you. You've been good soldiers and you're going to be good soldiers. The harder we work and the better we do our jobs, the quicker you and I are going to get back where we belong-to the United States of America, which is all wrapped up in that flag which you are saluting today.15
This the 96th liked to hear, for the unit was convinced that it had done a good job under adverse conditions. It was a general service regiment, not an aviation engineer unit; as such its tables never called for the heavy earth-moving equipment assigned to the aviation engineers. But it knew that with inadequate and sometimes totally missing equipment it had done its job, working ahead of the planes and ground troops who would later carry the war against the Japanese forward from the fields and docks built by the 96th. It was to have this experience again, later in the war, but Port Moresby and the former outposts at Milne Bay where some of its troops were now located were becoming rear areas.
The 91st Engineers, which the 96th left behind in Australia, had a different career. The 91st, even upon departure from the United States, was neither as well nor as fully trained as the 96th. It was one of the units activated with a cadre from the 41st Engineers, the oldest Negro general service regiment, during the period when the 41st had had to abandon engineer for cadre training. The majority of the cadre were old soldiers of the arms; none had any previous training as engineers.16 It was also one of the units whose thirteen-week basic training program was so frequently interrupted by camp labor demands that, although begun on 21 April 1941, the program, interrupted completely three times, never got beyond the ninth week. The unit left Camp Shelby for maneuvers on 28 July. From that time on the 91st remained under field conditions. It never received further formal training. It never returned to any training camp, semi-permanent or otherwise, ex-

near Port Moresby, built in three weeks by an engineer company, November 1942.
cept for four days spent in the staging area before leaving the New York Port of Embarkation.
The unit went to Woodstock, a railroad siding thirty miles south of Townsville, the day after disembarking in Australia. There it was to assist the 46th Engineers, a white unit, in building three landing strips. The 91st arrived in Australia without equipment. Everything that it used had to be borrowed from the 46th, a situation which, with the current shortage of all materiel in Australia, was of no help to the morale of either unit. Men worked with hand tools in clearing, in digging drains, and in culvert construction. The battalion spent twenty-four hours a day on construction without making notable progress.
On 23 April the 91st received a project of its own: the construction of an airfield and all facilities at a point outside of Giru, Queensland. But engineer separate battalions, intended primarily for labor, had no surveying equipment allotted. With only a carpenter's level, the field could not be properly laid out; drainage, slopes, grades, and alignments could not be accurately plotted. With hand tools, the unit began clearing the area for three landing strips. Only machetes were available for cutting the high grass covering the area. With all men available for handwork, hand tools soon ran out, for there were not enough to go around.
The unit rented equipment from nearby farmers, including a horse-drawn mowing machine and a farm tractor. Using an empty beer case, a section of a fourteen-inch log (felled by the farm tractor) as a wheel, a driftpin for an axle, and slender, six-foot poles for handles, the 91st devised homemade wheelbarrows. These were augmented by beer boxes rigged with wooden runners and drawn by two men holding a wooden pole on the end of a wire attached to the improvised sled. One officer, scouting Melbourne for equipment in May, found on hand only seven small, well-worn dozers and a few cargo trucks. These items finally arrived at Giru two months later, on 10 July. Other construction units, with fuller tables of equipment and higher priorities, got whatever new equipment came into the area. The 91st was occasionally able to borrow a steam shovel from the 46th Engineers, but since the 46th had first call on its use, the 91st could not depend upon it.

On the 91st projects that required heavy equipment, progress was so slow that interest lagged and morale fell. For all the work accomplished by the 91st in its first four months in Australia, it was stated to the battalion both orally and in writing that the unit might as well have stayed in the United States and continued the work it had been doing there. During the middle of August 1942 the 91st received its major equipment, including tractors, dozers, prime movers, carryalls, graders, welders, and trucks.
In the meantime the 1st Provisional Battalion of the 91st, consisting of eight officers, two warrant officers, and 528 enlisted men, was formed for shipment to the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula across from Horn Island, where a platoon of the 46th Engineers was maintaining an airfield used on the route from Townsville to Port Moresby. The provisional battalion found considerable equipment on hand to build an advance landing strip but much of the materiel was in poor condition. At one time both of the unit's two graders were deadlined for lack of fan belts. After trying to make fan belts by weaving rawhide, which slipped excessively, the unit welded sprockets from several bicycles to the crankshaft and fan pulleys. Then, by placing bicycle chains on the teeth of the sprockets, the fan belts were replaced and the machines went back on duty. The first plane landed on the new runway on 12 September; the first B-17 landed on 28 October. The 1st Provisional Battalion remained on jobs in the Cape York area until December when it joined the rest of its parent unit-by then a general service regiment and therefore entitled to more and better equipment-at Port Moresby, where it had been since 8 September.
Morale in the 91st Engineers went up during its earlier months in New Guinea. Air raids and alarms and the presence of the enemy within twenty miles of one company constructing a tactical road for the 32d Division made the outfit feel a part of the war, as it had not in Australia. The commander of the 32d Division, Maj. Gen. Edwin F. Harding, commended this company highly for the speed with which the road was completed. Again, however, the regiment was short of equipment. None of the equipment allotted to a general service regiment had yet arrived. One officer was able to "promote" a transit and a level, with but one tripod for the two instruments, before leaving Australia. This was the full surveying equipment of the unit when it arrived at Moresby.
The 91st laid out projects by guess and scrabbled in the jungle on round-the-clock schedules to complete them, only to find that projects marked for urgent completion were not used after the unit had spent all its extra time finishing them. As a result, it became increasingly difficult to call upon the men's reserve energy as the visible value of their missions diminished. The unit found that faulty planning sometimes slowed results, but the engineers got the blame. On one project, a hospital, the plans for ward tent frames were changed a total of thirteen times. On another project, completing a job begun by another unit involving poured concrete, heavily reinforced with steel, the 91st, upon removing the former unit's molds, found the concrete shot through with holes in what was to have been a water-

tight structure. After exercising considerable ingenuity and laboring hard to patch and waterproof the original structure, the engineers found that it was not to be used after all. On one occasion the 91st Engineers sent an officer and ten men to Australia for schooling in diesel mechanics, since, in its previous assignment the unit had not been taught the use of diesel equipment. Along with two other general service separate engineer units, it had found in late 1942 that heavy diesel-powered equipment was suffering in the hands of men who had no knowledge of its proper use and maintenance. Unfortunately, the group sent from the 91st was not given adequate training in Australia. The men were set apart from the rest of the students and were given a course in which one ancient tractor was dismantled, and reassembled, a procedure that, the unit historian wryly commented, "did not give the men a very broad outlook or training on diesel engines." The 91st, protesting the conduct of the course, recommended that future schools be on the spot and that they employ only American instructors using American equipment.
The 91st continued to work in the Port Moresby area until mid-1944, after all other engineer and most air units had long since gone forward. Road construction and maintenance, operation of gravel pits, excavation of sites for oil storage tanks, expansion of the Tatana dock area, and construction of utilities systems, storage reservoirs, quarters, and recreational facilities were all among its projects. For some, especially dock construction-the completion of eight igloo warehouses for the quartermaster dump in four days-and for hospital projects, it received commendations. But the 91st, which had been conditioned by its officers to expect personal hardships in furtherance of the war effort, was not helped by remaining at Port Moresby long after the war had apparently passed it by, toward the end of its stay assigned to jobs which had little visible importance, such as installing additional semi-permanent structures on a base whose population was steadily dwindling.17
Besides engineers, units moving early to Australia and New Guinea included the 394th Quartermaster Battalion, Port, later re-designated a Transportation Corps Port Battalion. This, the oldest of the port battalions, left the United States after the engineer separate battalions just discussed, but arrived in Australia before them. It was activated with three companies on 27 June 1941 at Oakland, California. A fourth company was added on 20 January 1942, not long before the battalion sailed from San Francisco for Brisbane on 18 February 1942. After arrival on 9 March, the companies of the battalion pursued the semi-independent courses typical of port battalions. Company D (611th Port Company) 18 remained in the Brisbane area for a month, moving then to Charters Towers where it remained for a month and a half before embarking on 15 June for Port Moresby. Company C (610th Port Company) moved from Brisbane to Cloncurry, then to Mount Isa, where it stayed until it left for Port Moresby on 26 November 1942. The headquarters detachment and the two remaining companies stayed in Brisbane

for about six weeks, moving then to Birdum in the Northern Territory. There Company A (608th Port Company) worked for two months, leaving for Milne Bay on 23 July 1942. This company was located at Milne Bay until April 1943 when it joined other units of the battalion at Port Moresby. It stayed at Moresby until November and December when, in two movements, it went to Finschhafen. The last company and the battalion headquarters were stationed at Birdum until November 1942 when they, along with Company C, moved to Port Moresby. The bulk of the battalion's work at Port Moresby was on the Tatana docks.19
After April 1944, when a second company left Port Moresby for Finschhafen, the battalion called on the 91st Engineers and the 55th Ordnance Ammunition Company for aid in handling cargo. Combined with the fact that at the time they were constructing tent floors and frames for units newly arrived from the United States when they themselves were still living on dirt floors after two years of foreign service, this call was a "real blow" to the fifty engineers used for port service.20 A commendation from the 394th Port Battalion stressing the excellent spirit and fine discipline of the gist's men, enabling the battalion to move a record amount of cargo in "a very short time," 21 did not compensate the engineers for what they thought was another sign of their slow relegation to jobs unimportant to advancing the war.
In New Guinea, meanwhile, the 96th Engineers from the spring of 1943 worked on general engineering and airfield projects all over the island, with elements at Milne Bay, Oro Bay, and Augusta (Merauke), while the headquarters and two companies remained at Port Moresby. The full regiment, after over a year's separation, assembled at Oro Bay in June 1944 for training, rehabilitation, and preparation for a new assignment. Physical reconditioning and rest, combined with training of operators for new heavy equipment which the regiment expected to receive, occupied the unit. Courses intended to increase the skill of welders, draftsmen, machinists, mechanics, and service crews -who had been doing similar work for over two years-were recognized as being somewhat in conflict with the rest and recreational program attempted, but the regiment expected to be converted to a construction battalion (a change that did not occur) and it wanted to be prepared for anything that lay ahead. Esprit de corps, reflecting the regiment's record of the past two years, was high.
The regiment left Oro Bay to join a convoy for Maffin Bay on 2 1 July, leaving one company and a detachment behind to follow later. During a brief stop at Mafftn Bay, the regiment took the occasion to remind its men that once again the role which they were playing had undeniable importance to the war effort beyond installing flooring for transient units at a dying base:
1. Every officer and man of the Ninety Sixth Engineers looks back with pride on the early days at Port Moresby. In those days, plain for all to see, on their work in maintaining and improving airdromes under fire and pushing through the Tatana

Island project depended our success in stopping the Japs. In those days the issue trembled in the balance, and every man could see his weight throwing the scales our way.
2. With a handful of worn equipment, without experience, but with no end of guts you threw yourselves into the scales. The regiment was weighed and was not found wanting.
3. Now the wheel has swung full circle and again the progress of the war depends on the work of the Ninety Sixth Engineers. The circumstances are different. We are well equipped, better than any other unit in the South West Pacific has ever been. We are taking into action twenty-two D-8's, four power shovels, eight caterpillar graders to mention only a few items. We have over two years experience behind us. The Jap is on the run. We will again be the farthest forward spearhead, building the airfield that will help make it possible for the next jump. It is literally true that the war will go as fast as the work of the Ninety Sixth Engineers.
4. We are now the people for whom one hundred million have worked together to equip and push up front. We are the people on whom a hundred million depend. Every man and officer must and will measure up to what our people expect of us.22
The 96th's Company C went to Wakde Island, charged with carrying out engineer construction and maintenance there. Most other troops remained aboard transports in the harbor until 3 August 1944. When the bulk of the regiment went ashore, the remnants of the Japanese garrison were still fighting a few hundred yards from the beach, and American planes from Wakde were still bombing the enemy at Sarmi, a few miles away. The regiment unloaded its supplies and equipment from Liberty ships, and reloaded them in LST's for
movement to Cape Opmarai, where the regiment debarked on 9 August. At Cape Opmarai the regiment, bivouacking in a hastily cleared site in an almost impenetrable rain forest, began work in less than twenty-four hours on an engineer road and a 500-foot over-run at the western end of the Mar airdrome. The 96th also constructed buildings, roads, gasoline bulk storage tanks, and dumps. It furnished labor in the Cape Opmarai-Sansapor area. One platoon of Company A worked on the Middleburg Island airdrome. The regiment remained in the Cape Opmarai area until April 1945.23
Toward the end of its stay, as this base too declined in population, and as the taxiways of Mar Drome emptied of planes, the Japanese in the hills began to harass the remaining troops on the base. In February 1945, the enemy raided a native village at Plain Creek, two miles from one outpost, and later about 150 Japanese attacked the Sansapor outpost, suffering twenty-two dead in the attack. Companies A and B of the 96th took over the defense at Table River for two days while troops of the 167th Infantry, 31st Division, to which the engineer regiment was then attached, went out in search of the attackers. All companies of the 96th sent security and reconnaissance patrols into the jungle.
The unit remained at Cape Opmarai until the base was closed out; it salvaged all the Marsden mat from Mar Drome and destroyed the runway and taxiways by cutting dozer ditches across them. It dismantled and crated storage tanks, and prepared all bridges for demolition.

The unit was now critically short of enlisted personnel from rotation and attrition. The replacement system for Negroes was not working at all. The 96th's strength had gone down to 675 enlisted men available for duty. At the beginning of April 1945, the 96th finally received 25o replacements, but they came from the 1315th Engineer Construction Battalion, disbanded for the purpose of furnishing men to depleted older engineer units. The regiment, as its last major project, maintained roads and bridges on the supply routes 9f the 31st Division in the Mindanao campaign.
Though longer and more varied, the careers of these earlier engineer and port units were fairly typical of the careers of units that came after. The later units were more fully trained and equipped but they were less likely to be assigned to tasks which kept their eyes on a mission visible to the average enlisted man in the way that the work at Port Moresby and Plaine des Gaiacs appeared to the men of these first units out. Many of the later units worked almost wholly as helpers to larger white units that had the main responsibility for large construction projects. Many suffered interminably from training and leadership problems. On jobs in which units were spread over large areas the need for supervisory and administrative personnel increased proportionately to the distances separating the elements of the units. The theaters, especially the Pacific areas, thought that an overstrength in officers might help, but the War Department established no general policy for engineer units. The Corps of Engineers therefore advised theaters that since "There is no hope of reducing the number of Negro Engineer units to be sent to your Theater," 24 the theaters themselves should initiate requests giving their justifications for extra officers.25 No general policy covering the desired overstrength was approved.
Officers were often surprised by the efficacy of the training of their units once they became operational. They stressed the importance of prior training, especially in the operation and maintenance of equipment. Said one aviation engineer battalion commander after a few months in North Africa:
My outfit has really surprised me with the construction jobs it has turned out. And our equipment and trucks have held up very well considering the circumstances. I attribute about ninety percent of our success to the excellent training that you gave the men and officers while you were with us ....
Like many another engineer or quartermaster unit, this one found its employment
. . . not as exciting as I thought it was going to be. You see they have held us in the rear area to do the heavy construction work after the front line outfits have built temporary fields and moved forward. The outfit has been widely separated most of the time over here. Sometimes a thousand miles or more separated the extreme elements of the battalion. The companies have learned to operate independently and I have become a flying area engineer.26

Even with the lessened control occasioned by the method of employing these and other engineer units, most observers agreed that "The amount of work done by the aviation engineers is almost unbelievable." The same factors that diminished centralized control and supervision sometimes operated to increase the actual efficiency of the isolated parts of the unit, since men, noncommissioned officers, and officers under these conditions grew relatively more interdependent and self-reliant. Tensions endemic to larger units were relieved and relations between the smaller elements and their neighbors were often tempered by the compactness of the smaller command assigned to a limited job whose meaning and value could be grasped by all involved. While non-participant observers continued to conclude that the efficiency of Negro service units was in direct proportion to the "efficiency, enthusiasm, ability, and number of their officers," they nevertheless felt that units performed their tasks in construction, water supply, and dump truck operations with credit.27
Road Builders
The first engineer and port units sent out to the Pacific were matched within a few weeks by engineer units sent to Alaska and Canada for the construction of the Alaska (Alcan) Highway from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks. Three of the seven regiments pushing this road through the northern wilderness were Negro units, all originally separate battalions later expanded to general service regiments. Their 3,695 troops accounted for slightly more than a third of the 10,607 engineers on the highway.28 The 93d General Service Regiment, arriving in April 1942, constructed the highway from Tagish north to the McClintock River and east and southeast toward Teslin; the 97th, arriving at the same time, had the section from Slana north toward the Tanana River and thence south to the Alaska-Canada border, where it would meet the 18th Engineers, a white unit building from the south. The 95th, last of the Negro regiments to arrive, began to follow the white 341st Engineers in June, improving the road cut by that regiment from Fort St. John to Fort Nelson. The Alaska Highway, evidencing something of the early American pioneer spirit as it cut through ice hills and muskeg swamps in a race against time, captured the American imagination in a way that few other projects did in the early summer of 1942 when so little else involving American forces in an aggressive role on a large scale had yet been made public. When the bulldozers of Technician 5 Refines Sims, Jr., lead cat skinner of the Negro 97th, and Pvt. Alfred Jalufka, lead driver of the white 18th Engineers, finally broke through to close the last gap in the road on 25 October 1942, the meeting between white and Negro drivers symbolized to a hopeful country the kind of unity and co-operation that foretold eventual victory. Public speakers and radio programs made much of the symbolism of the event for months to come.29

Having built a pioneer road, the regiments remained to improve and maintain it or to do other jobs in Alaska and the Aleutians. Units of the 97th, in addition to maintaining roads, operated terminals for trucks on the "Fairbanks Freight," the truck supply line over the highway. One company at Cathedral Rapids was charged with "glacier control," chopping glaciers off the highway by hand or building bypass roads around them when they encroached too far.30 All three units later served in other theaters, the 93d and 97th in the Pacific, the 95th in Europe.
On the other side of the world, in Burma, 60 percent of the 15,000 American troops assigned to the construction of the Ledo Road, to run 271 miles from Ledo, Assam, to a connection with the old Burma Road to Kunming, were Negroes.31 The first two American Army

units assigned to the new route were the 45th Engineer General Service Regiment and the 823d Engineer Aviation Battalion, both of them Negro units that had previously worked on airfields in Assam and elsewhere in India as the first American engineer units in the theater. Already working on the road were one bridging and several pioneer units of the British Army and 8,000 local laborers.32
The 45th and 823d started construction about 15 December 1942. The 45th contributed its commander, Col. John Arrowsmith, to the project as the original commanding officer of Base Section Three, headquarters for road operations at Ledo.33
The road, with its first section running from Ledo through the Patkai Mountains to Shingbwiyang 103 miles distant, went through previously unsurveyed territory. It followed roughly the steep narrow trail over which thousands of refugees had fled into India during the retreat from Burma.34 Rising as high as 4,500 feet, the road ran through five ranges of the Patkais. For each mile between Ledo and Shingbwiyang, 100,000 cubic feet of earth had to be removed.35 Steep grades, hairpin curves, and sheer drops for as much as 200 feet, all surrounded by a thick rain forest jungle, characterized this first section.
At first, equipment used on the road was almost wholly the organizational equipment of the 45th Engineer Regiment and the 823d Engineer Aviation Battalion, supplemented by road rollers, graders, rock crushers, air compressors, and small tools available from China Defense Supply stocks.36 By 1 January 1943 the 823d, picking up where the British forces left off, had cut five miles of point on the road. During February the work pushed ahead, the 823d coming into Japanese-held Burma at Mile 43.3.37 Work proceeded slowly during the months thereafter as difficulties with equipment, shortages of troops, and the monsoon plagued the engineers. Landslides, washed out bridges, and swollen streams hampered progress. By the beginning of the heavy rains the roadhead had advanced so far as to be beyond practicable supply distances. Troops began to widen the road and slope the banks beyond Mile 34, with Indian tea plantation contract laborers doing most of the sloping.
Construction of the road followed the combat forces as closely as possible. On 1 April, the 45th Engineers organized to meet a possible Japanese attack. Patrols had been sighted south of the road not far from Ledo and there were reports that others were operating to the north of the road. The 45th sent patrols out in both directions, but the threat diminished within a few days.38
During the heavy rains, troops on the road strove to hold what they had. Thousands of Indians assisted in digging and clearing ditches. The 10th Chinese Engineers, who arrived in March

building the first gravel screen to be used on the Ledo Road construction project.
1943, worked on drainage and built revetments. In the following months new American units, including the 330th General Service Regiment and the 849th and 1883d Engineer Aviation Battalions, the latter two Negro units, arrived. The Moth pushed the point ahead beginning in August while the other organizations widened, improved, and bridged the road, and built adjacent airstrip and combat roads. Engineer units on the road were joined by other units necessary to road operations: three light pontoon companies, including two Negro units of this type, to bridge the swift mountain rivers and operate ferries; the 45th Quartermaster Regiment, whose trucks hauled surfacing materials and, later, supplies; and additional engineer units. Just before the end of the year, on 27 December 1943, the lead bulldozer reached Shingbwiyang, three days ahead of schedule. The most difficult part of the road was completed, but the job of widening, clearing and preventing slides, bridging, and operating the road, as well as the job of completing it through the lower lands was

yet to be done. Much of the remaining route, including Myitkina and Bhamo, was still in the hands of the enemy.
The ponton companies, arriving in late 1943, went in January and February beyond Shingbwiyang to operate ferries and to build ponton bridges. The 76th, in February, moved up the Ningham Combat Trail to the Tarung River, building there a standard pneumatic float twelve-ton bridge, 470 feet long, the first in Burma and the first built in the construction of the road.39 The bridge was not built under fire, but the company's temporary camp at the river's edge received rifle grenade fire from across the river. The 76th constructed a 540-foot ponton pier on the Tarung for the use of the 209th Combat Engineer Battalion, a white unit constructing a fixed bridge across the river. One of the 76th's platoons widened and improved the Ningham Combat Trail in order to carry ponton equipment forward to construct an eighty-foot bridge farther up-river. Since the unit had to maintain the Combat Trail to supply itself and its bridges, it sent a detachment back to Ledo to fetch dump trucks for use in this mission, but the detachment, on the way back in the now rainy season, was stopped at Mile 55 to haul gravel for washouts. The company found itself trying to maintain the Combat Trail during the monsoon without equipment. It found itself with a washed-out bridge when the Tarung River rose eleven feet in one day on 1 May. Its ferry over the Tanai could not be operated in June because of the swiftness of the rising river. The unit, stranded for six days, was moved across the river by assault boats. With the 71st Company, a white ponton unit, it then built a 775-foot bridge over the Tawang in eleven hours under the difficult conditions of the July floods. When not operating as bridge units, the ponton companies, moving at times by plane to the sites where they were needed, helped maintain roads and operate waterworks, or worked as construction troops.40
Certain other units came down from the road to build B-29 bases in India in early 1944. One of these, the 382d Engineer Construction Battalion, arrived at Kharagpur in late January with the mission of building a "barely operational" field there by 15 March. The unit had left its organizational equipment on the road for continued use there. It was therefore dependent upon Engineer District; equipment. The unit, well disciplined and well trained for its original tasks, had few competent equipment operators for airfield construction at the start of the job. By hard work it met the target date and then went on for the next ninety days to meet the "nearly impossible 'limited operations' " date of 30 June.41 The unit was "well rounded" by the time the job was completed. The 1888th Engineer Aviation Battalion took over the construction of Piardoba Airfield in February 1944 from another unit, inheriting a difficult schedule which it met successfully. Neither men nor officers in this unit possessed at the beginning a full knowledge of airfield construction methods, but they showed a "great will-

ingness" which resulted in completion of their job on schedule .42
From the beginning the Ledo Road was a combat support road as well as a potential supply route to China. Along with construction troops, the road and the Advance Section administering it acquired troops to support combat forces as well as to maintain troops constructing the highway and the airfields and pipelines adjacent to it. The Goth Ordnance Company operated ammunition depots to stock ammunition supply points located along the road and along combat trails branching from the road .43 Negro laundry units at Ledo and Myitkyna, and a semimobile salvage repair company were used in Advance Section Three. Truck convoys began operating as soon as enough of the road was open to enable the drivers to proceed. The 45th Quartermaster Regiment arrived in November 1943 to operate between Ledo and Shingbwiyang and stayed throughout the period of road operations.
During the monsoon, trucks became mired in mud so deep that it came up to the running boards and sometimes to the

hood, requiring the bulldozers of construction troops, working all the while at widening, improving, and maintaining the road, to pull and push them out.44 One battalion maintaining the road during the monsoon season of 1944 found a hundred slides in thirty-two miles on one May day. Each slide required tractors to remove it. Tinch Slide, a 300-foot cut with its face studded with rocks of all sizes, caused constant trouble. It was often a "mess impassable to wheeled traffic." 45 Rocks weighing as much as fifteen tons were washed out by the rains and tumbled across the road, sinking into the mud and water. Many required blasting before bulldozers could edge them off the road into the river two hundred feet below.
In the early months of convoy operations truckers carried mainly supplies for the engineers and for combat troops, with little organized convoy control. The only truck outfit then based in Shingbwiyang, the 3646th Quartermaster Truck Company, whose main task was operating gravel dump trucks and jeep supply to forward areas, performed rudimentary convoy control functions. Though the engineers utilized the services of the truck companies, they wanted no part of a fleet of trucks cluttering up the trace and providing an easy target for the enemy. Their general attitude was "Get 'em in and then get 'em out quick before some damn Jap sees them and bombs hell outta the place!"46
Operating in the mud and muck of the still rudimentary road, trucks and other wheeled vehicles could follow combat forces only so far as the road would carry them. In the Burma campaign, Chinese, American, and Indian combat forces were often deep in the jungles and high in the Naga Hills, far from the nearest roadhead. Neither native porters nor pack mules could reach them throughout the monsoon seasons. To supply them, the theater resorted to dropping food and supplies by air. Experimental drops in March 1943 proved the method feasible despite the absence of trained airdropping personnel, planes, or containers. For the first drops, men of laundry and ordnance units packed and dropped supplies, using basket containers and parachutes from a fighter control group and airplanes from the ferry command at Chabua. By the end of the month, a regular airdropping organization was improvised. White personnel of the 3841st Quartermaster Truck Company at Sookerating Air Base were used for warehousing, packing, and dropping, and Negro personnel of the 3304th Quartermaster Truck Company, divided into seven detachments of one officer and nine enlisted men each, were used to receive airdropped supplies at forward stations.47
As the airdropping mission increased in scope, the 518th Quartermaster Battalion (Mobile), a complete Negro battalion just arriving in the theater, was assigned to procuring, warehousing, packing, and loading all subsistence and other supplies for airdropping. Its headquarters and two companies worked

out of Dinjan. The other two companies went to Sookerating. The 3841st, now supplemented by additional volunteers, was attached to this unit for duty. Its personnel, split between the two bases, continued as the "kickers" who rode the planes of the 2d Troop Carrier Squadron, pushing packaged supplies from the open doors of planes in flight over the target. Two detachments of one officer and four enlisted men of the 518th went to forward areas to assist the 3304th Truck Company in its receiving and issuing duties. These -Negro detachments sent back periodic reports on the effectiveness of the drops that proved valuable to the development of improved techniques. In November, 1943 when Chinese troops launched a drive into the Hukawng Valley, dropping directly to the using troops began and the 3304th was relieved of its receiving duties.48 Nineteen Chinese and two Indian divisions as well as American units received supplies by air-dropping. The 518th Battalion continued its airdropping activities until the end of December 1944 when it was relieved to begin convoy duties. Sufficient provisional airdropping units had by now been organized and the road was about to open.49 During the period of its airdropping activities, the 518th, with less than ten days' instruction and orientation in its new assignment, experimented with, packed, and dropped a number of unusual items, including the first 75-mm. pack howitzer airdropped in Burma, oil and gasoline in 55-gallon drums lashed with rope around sacks of rice husks used as bumpers, ammunition carts cut into sections so that they could get through plane doors, delicate medical supplies and instruments, bulky operating tables and generators, blood plasma, and even live ducks and fresh eggs for special holidays. The 518th operated virtually a specialized subdepot, shifting its personnel about so that all learned all phases of airdropping. The unit also trained the personnel of other organizations for airdropping activities. It was proud that it used only its own personnel, other than local labor, for less technical work, and that it never allowed the planes of the air cargo squadrons to remain idle while waiting for packaged supplies.50
When the monsoon was over in October 1944, completion of the Ledo Road was in sight. Additional construction troops came in to reinforce the road builders. Among them were more Negro units, including the 1327th Engineer General Service Regiment, flown in from the United States,51 and the 352d Engineer General Service Regiment, which, since January 1943, had been helping to build and maintain highways, railroads, and airfields through Iran for the Russian supply route.52 Every avail-

able truck and driver was being assigned to convoy service. In December 1944 thirty-six of fifty-nine quartermaster truck companies were operating in the two-way traffic between Ledo and Bhamo. Most of these were Negro units. The call now went out for volunteer truck drivers to supplement these truckers on the route to China.
By early January 1945, the first convoy was readying at Ledo to move over the road to Kunming. It began to move before the road was completed and cleared of the still fighting Japanese. At, first, it was thought that a critical situation might arise over the use of Negro drivers in China but the Chinese Government, which had opposed the use of Negroes in its territory, permitted the drivers to go as far as Kunming. China requested that unless the tactical situation demanded it, Negro units not be used east of Kunming-the western Chinese had never seen Negro troops, Generalissimo Chiang explained, and he felt it better not to send them there unless required.53 The first convoy consisted of fifty Negro and fifty Chinese drivers, the latter especially trained for the convoy and prepared to take over drivers' duties upon entering Kunming. The number of Negro drivers, after the China ruling, was reduced to ten, with two Negro war correspondents added.54 The China restriction did not interfere with future convoys on what was now renamed the Stilwell Road.
For operations on the Stilwell Road, officially beginning 1 February 1945, fifty-eight truck companies under three group and eleven battalion headquarters were in use when the Motor Transport Service was formally organized on 25 February. Of the fifty-eight truck companies, fifty-two were Negro; the three group and nine of the battalion headquarters were also Negro. Remaining on the road for maintenance and continuing construction at this time were four engineer general service regiments, three of them Negro; seven engineer aviation battalions, four of them Negro; two dump truck companies, both Negro; two light ponton companies, one of which was Negro; and one engineer construction battalion, two engineer combat battalions, one engineer maintenance company, a heavy shop company, and a forestry company, all of which were white.55 The first engineer unit to go to China to work on the Stilwell Road was the 858th Engineer Aviation Battalion, which moved in May 1945 to maintain the road from the Salween River to Kunming. This unit, the only Negro battalion sent to China, remained there until V-J Day as one of two battalions then working on the China end of the road. Its units, with the white 71st Light Ponton Company attached for maintenance between the Salween and the China border, eventually worked nearly five hundred miles east of Kunming.56
In addition to the medical dispensa-

ries of the engineer units located along the convoy route, the 335th Station Hospital, one of the four Negro hospitals organized for overseas duty, was located at the 80-mile mark, at Tagap, Burma. From excess personnel of this unit the 3834 Station Hospital was activated as of 6 December 1944.57 Both units operated at Tagap, the 383d attached to the 335th. With a low census, primarily of Negro troops, these two hospitals were the only ones along the road operating "strictly in the manner for which they were designed."58
Other units formerly working on the Stilwell Road moved to airfields, to the subbase at Myitkina, and to depots at Ledo, whose work now increased. The quartermaster section at Ledo acquired the 547th Quartermaster Depot Company, one of the two Negro units of its type "and an exceptionally good one,"59 in late 1944. After it lost this company to China in May 1945, it used the 43d Veterinary Company, converted to a composite supply platoon, and the 2d Veterinary Company on temporary duty.60 Both of these were Negro units.
In their work on the Stilwell (Ledo) Road and on supporting and operating missions in the Advance Section of the India-Burma Theater Negro units were as fully employed as anywhere in World War II. The theater had a low priority on personnel and supplies and it was the one theater where, for most of its existence, a supply project-the construction of the Stilwell Road-took precedence over combat operations designed to provide a route for this supply project. All Negro engineer units on the road used equipment and performed tasks more complicated than anticipated for their troops; they learned to use equipment not ordinarily included in their tables of equipment. Negro troops, with their less adequate prior training and their less fully developed sense of purpose were less efficient in meeting the demands of the road than white units of similar types; the Advance Section estimated the operating efficiency of Negro troops at 70 percent that of white troops. Nevertheless the Negro units did a major share of the work on the road. Equipment operation schools, orientation lectures, and efforts to instill pride in their accomplishments were effective in most units, with at least one, the 1883d Aviation Battalion, rated "comparable to the best of the white units" in the last year of operations.61
Morale among Negro units on the road was judged to be higher than that of white units. There were no clashes between white and Negro troops. Racial problems were present but they involved the many races and nationalities living and working in close proximity to the road. British, Indians, Burmese, the Naga Hill people, and Chinese were on the road as well as white and Negro Americans. The differences and tensions among the many nationalities were greater than those between white and Negro American troops, but in general there were few other than individual disagreements of a sort that might take place between men of the same race or nation.62 Recreational facilities, such

as theaters, Red Cross clubs, and athletic contests, were open to both Negro and white troops, but separate rest camps, originally of unequal quality, caused some bitterness. There were complaints that Negro troops were more prone to use native intoxicants and drugs, and that this resulted in more clashes with the local population, especially over women. Indians complained of "barbaric" treatment by Negro troops, but these complaints were made against white troops as well .63
The Stilwell Road itself was sufficient incentive to cause many of the Negro troops and units to exert themselves as fully as possible. The 45th Engineers reported that in their first few months on the road morale was high because the men realized the importance of their work. The 858th Engineer Aviation Battalion found that its troops "were proud that of all the Engineer Battalions in the IBT, the 858th Engineer Aviation Battalion had been given the honor of going to China."64 Troops in areas farther to the rear had fewer visible incentives, but, as one base general depot reported, were reasonably efficient in their duties.65 Another base section declared that its two Negro quartermaster truck companies, operating motor pools with Indian drivers, played "an important part" in the successful operations of the area.66 As in many other cases, headquarters reported that there was a distinct relation between leadership and performance. General Depot 2 explained: "If the officers concerned accept and deal with the problems of the Negro soldier, there are no problems. Therefore, he becomes the same as any other soldier in time of war, willing to complete his work to the best of his ability and then return to his home."67 The units themselves were all run-of-the mine organizations with all the endemic difficulties of Negro units and commands. Their work in the difficult projects assigned them in India and Burma, when all of their problems of training and background are considered, was a tribute to the potency of definite missions and to the adaptability and speed with which officers and men could learn both manual and leadership skills when need was greater than original skill or outlook.
Liberia Force
An early project which got under way slowly and then became moribund almost as soon as it started was the Liberia Force. In early 1942 Liberia granted the United States the unrestricted right to construct, control, operate, and defend such commercial and military airfields as might be deemed necessary by mutual agreement, and the Army was given the task of defending Liberian airfields.68
The task force for Liberia consisted mostly of Negro units. The officers and enlisted men of its headquarters, signal,

and quartermaster detachments, five officers of the 25th Station Hospital, and personnel of the ferry command and supporting Air Corps units were white. An advance construction force, set up to prepare installations and provide defense pending the arrival of the full force, was made up of the 41st Engineer General Service Regiment (less the 2d Battalion), Co A, 812th Engineer Aviation Battalion (later redesignated the 899th Engineer Aviation Company), the 802d Coast Artillery Battery, and an advance detachment of the 25th Station
Hospital.69 These units arrived in June 1942. A detachment, with Negro enlisted men, to train the Liberian Frontier (Guard) Force, went to Monrovia. Originally the 1st Battalion, 367th Infantry, was scheduled to move at the same time, but shipping difficulties caused its deferment. The 41st Engineers received additional armament for

Assam, India.
their defense mission, making the regiment comparable to a unit of combat engineers. The 88th Squadron and its supporting service units were to join the Liberia Force later, but they were eliminated after danger of an Axis attack on Liberia diminished. The force itself had to proceed to Liberia since the United States agreement with that country provided for it, but no commitment had been made to include air units. After being on and off alerts since April 1942, the 367th Infantry, now a separate battalion, therefore proceeded to Liberia on 8 February 1943, arriving at Marshall, Liberia, on 10 March.70
Aside from building Roberts Field and access roads, troops in Liberia encountered no particular problems. All units moving out to the West African republic had been warned of the health hazards in the back country of this tropical land. The major hazard that developed was venereal disease, for the "free"

(unmarried) women of the villages displaced by the airfield and from coastal towns flocked to the Roberts Field area. The control measures instituted in Liberia, calling for a regulatory system complete with dispensaries and regular inspections of women housed in villages, proved satisfactory to the women and to most soldiers, who, for disciplinary and work reasons, had to be kept relatively close to the installations they were constructing. Venereal rates declined but were still higher than rates among Negro troops in the United States. Despite weekly examinations, control among the women was difficult, for Liberian men could sneak into the villages with ease, re-infecting the women.71 Photographs of white troops and local women sent as post cards raised the question of the possible use of the "women's villages" in enemy propaganda among the peoples of Africa and Asia. The command attempted to substitute a full recreational program in an area where all recreation was limited. It was more successful with a rigid photograph censorship in Liberia.72
The Liberia garrison dwindled gradually as the need for defense and for specific units decreased. The nurses of the 25th Hospital were replaced by male nurses. After ten months, the 367th moved to Oran, arriving in February 1944. The 41st Engineers moved to Corsica and later to France and Germany. The 802d Coast Artillery Battery was disbanded in Liberia.73 Instructors for the Liberia Guard Force and hospital and air service troops remained, for Roberts Field continued to be useful to the air transport and ferry commands until the end of the war.
Rear Area Employment
It was in ports, base sections, and depots that the great majority of Negro service units were employed overseas. Aside from the bases already mentioned, the Persian Gulf, for example, had in its first priority of American troop requirements a Negro laundry platoon (the 2d Platoon, 350th Quartermaster Company) ; in its second were two Negro port battalions (480th and 481st) and one truck regiment (49th); and in its third, two Negro engineer general service regiments (357th and 352d) and two dump truck companies (435th and 436th).74 As the worldwide deployment of the United States Army increased after mid-1944-and as the greater number of Negroes inducted in 1942 and 1943 became available in units completing their training in either their original or converted forms-the proportions of Negro troops overseas mounted rapidly. In March 1944 there were still 357,802 Negro soldiers in the United States as against the 314,075 overseas. But by December 1944, the number overseas rose to 477421-more than twice as many as the 214,100 remaining in the United States. By April 1945 there were 511,493 Negroes overseas and 188,811 in the continental United

States. This was the peak overseas figure of the war.75 Of the 477421 overseas in December 1944, 169,678 were quartermaster troops, 111,0l2 were engineers, and 64,458 were transportation troops.76
With so large a proportion of the Negro force overseas in the services and with so many of the service troops in rear areas, a number of problems were faced by both the troops and by overseas commands. To many white troops and commanders, the sole Negro troops seen in overseas theaters were these in the ports and rear areas. This, coupled with rumors about the two Negro divisions, left a strong impression that Negro troops were not only used for little else but also that they were fitted for nothing else.77 In the towns and villages of the war-crowded British Isles, in North Africa, and in Italy, the problem of Negro-civilian and Negro-white troop relations sometimes became acute, although Negroes and civilians often got along better than they were expected to and sometimes better than many white American troops thought they should.
With the arrival of increasingly large numbers of Negro troops in the British Isles in 1942, the European theater developed a well-defined policy intended to decrease friction between Negro and white troops and between American troops in general and the British population. This policy was extended to the Continent after the invasion. While other theaters developed varying policies, they were usually vague and undefined even though encompassed within larger War Department policies. Their specific implementation was often left to subordinate commands. In contrast, the European theater developed early a clearly stated policy which, with few exceptions, was held to for the duration of the war. The development of the policy in this theater was the result of four important factors largely absent elsewhere: the vocal interest of the British population and Government in the removal of causes for friction among the many nationalities and races of troops present in the United Kingdom; the active support of the chief American commanders for such a policy; the presence of a larger number of Negro troops in the European theater than elsewhere (154,000 in August 1944 as compared with 81,870 in the North African theater, the next largest concentration at the time) ; 78 and the institution of methods for direct observation of the effectiveness of the measures proposed.
Since the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, is not as large as the state of Oregon, and since much of Scotland was unsuitable for training camps and bases, the bulk of the incoming troops had to be concentrated in the already heavily populated Midlands of England. Getting along with each other as well as with the British therefore became all the more important. In July 1942 General Eisenhower's headquarters issued a statement of policy:
1. The presence of Negro troops in this Theater will present a variety of problems that can only be solved by constant and

close supervision of Commanding Officers. It is the desire of this Headquarters that discrimination against the Negro troops be sedulously avoided. So far as London and other cities and leave areas where both Negro and White soldiers will come on pass and furlough, it would be a practical impossibility to arrange for segregation so far as welfare and recreation facilities are concerned. The Red Cross has been notified that Negro soldiers will be accorded the same leaves anti furlough privileges as other soldiers and consequently they can expect them to come into their clubs. The Red Cross has been informed that wherever it is not possible to provide separate accommodations, the Negro soldiers 11 be given the same accommodations in the clubs on the same basis as White soldiers.
2. A more difficult problem will exist in the vicinity of camps where both White and Negro soldiers are stationed, particularly with reference to dances and other social activities. This Headquarters will not attempt to issue any detailed instructions. Local Commanding Officers will be expected to use their own best judgment in avoiding discrimination due to race, but at the same time, minimizing causes of friction between White and Colored Troops. Rotation of pass privileges and similar methods suggest themselves for use, always with the guiding principle that any restriction imposed by Commanding Officers applies with equal force to both races.79
Carrying out this directive fell primarily to Maj. Gen. John C. H. Lee, whose Services of Supply contained most of the Negro troops in the United Kingdom. To his base section commanders and commanding officers he transmitted the directive, declaring that it "sets forth clearly and unmistakably the basic principles which must guide every commanding officer in the exercise of his responsibilities of command. These fundamental principles, enunciated by the Theater Commander, are founded on fairness, justice, and common sense. They permit of no deviation or compromise."80
The determination of Generals Eisenhower and Lee that internal dissensions between American Negro and white troops would not jeopardize Anglo-American relations, always under scrutiny because of the undetermined length of time that the British would have to play hosts to visiting foreign armies, gradually trickled down to lower commands. Since new units were constantly arriving, the policy had to be reiterated frequently. Some units took positive measures to prevent friction. The 28th Quartermaster Regiment with V Corps in Northern Ireland appointed three of its noncommissioned officers to a "Good Conduct Committee," inviting three white noncommissioned officers from neighboring units to join with them. These six men arranged for the selection of other noncommissioned officers from each of the companies and batteries in Northern Ireland, who discussed and carried back to their units the rules of good conduct.81 The plan spread to II Corps, where each regiment and separate battalion, white and Negro, was asked to form a "Good Conduct Committee" to meet in joint session to discuss race relations.82 The plan, essentially that which Judge Hastie had proposed for the Army in the United States, enabled individual soldiers to de-

termine for themselves how best to engender mutual respect, avoid acts which might lead to friction, and spread the word that the Red Cross was to be impartial in its treatment of soldiers.
The British Home Office at the end of August decided to inform its chief constables that it was not "the policy of His Majesty's Government that any discrimination as regards the treatment of coloured troops should be made by the British authorities" and that they should instruct local police not to approach the proprietors of "public houses, restaurants, cinemas or other places" with directions to refuse service to Negro troops. If the American authorities decided to put certain places "out of bounds" for Negro troops they could do so only by issuing an order to their own troops. British police should make themselves in no way responsible for enforcing such orders.
This circular letter, sent to General Eisenhower's headquarters for comment, elicited another affirmation of theater policy:
The Commanding General is in complete accord with the instructions the Home Office proposes to issue. This policy of nondiscrimination is exactly the policy which has always been followed by the United States Army. Subordinate United States Army commanders in the European Theater of Operations are being informed of the proposed action of the Home Office.
With reference to the question of placing certain places out of bounds, we do not make any restrictions of that kind on the basis of color. The policy followed by the United States Army authorities is that places put out of bounds for United States soldiers are out of bounds to all United States Army personnel.83
In bringing these exchanges with the British Home Office to the attention of his commanders, General Eisenhower further informed them:
The presence of Negro troops in this theater creates a problem in inter-racial relationships much different from that in the United States. There is practically no coloured population in the British Isles. Undoubtedly a considerable association of colored troops with British white population, both men and women, will take place on a basis mutually acceptable to the individuals concerned. Any attempt to curtail such association by official orders or restrictions is unjustified and must not be attempted. Furthermore, it must be realized by all ranks that it is absolutely essential that American officers and soldiers carefully avoid making any public or private statements of a derogatory nature concerning racial groups in the United States Army. The spreading of derogatory statements concerning the character of any group of United States troops, either white or colored, must be considered as conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline and offenders must be promptly punished. In the interest of military efficiency, if for no other reason, isolated incidents of friction must be eliminated.
4. There must be continuing attention on the part of all concerned to this problem if we are to avoid distressing situations. I am taking this means of bringing the matter again to your attention because I feel that it must not be handled in a routine or perfunctory manner. It is my desire that this be brought to the attention of every officer in this theater. To that end, I suggest that you personally talk this over with your next senior commander and instruct them to follow up the subject through command channels.84

General Lee directed that every officer in the SOS read this letter and its enclosures to his immediate subordinates and then discuss it with them. Every white soldier was to be instructed and warned that "General Eisenhower means exactly what he says in par. 2 underlined above."85
Command attention to the problem of racial friction in the British Isles did not eliminate it entirely, but although the American troop population in Britain grew to more than 1,500,000 by May 1944 reports of racial incidents did not increase proportionately. As new troops came into the United Kingdom indoctrination had to continue, especially since a number of local commanders, arguing that further segregation than that permitted by issuing passes to towns and organizing dances on a unit basis was necessary to avoid trouble, took it upon themselves to add restrictions of their own. Some felt that the theater policy favored Negro soldiers, especially when officers who ignored theater policy were removed from their units and when the theater insisted that the word of a white military policeman count for no more than that of a Negro involved in a scrape. "This is a most important issue," General Lee stated, "because it cuts right down into our innermost thinking and feeling. Are we fighting this war on a clean issue or are we kidding ourselves? We've got to decide and make our decisions stick."86
The Red Cross, told to provide for Negroes on the same basis as for white soldiers when no separate club was available, set up a number of Negro-staffed clubs which gradually came to be known as "Colored Clubs." By February 1944 there were twenty-three of these clubs.87 The Red Cross insisted that "We have no negro clubs. We have no white clubs. We have negro staff clubs and white staff clubs. Any negro in this Theater is welcome to any club we have. Any soldier whether he is white or black is the same."88 But the existence of the separately staffed clubs, moved about as racial concentrations of troops altered, left a sour taste with Negro soldiers and Negro Red Cross workers, and at times led to friction when military police prevented Negroes from entering white-staffed clubs and white soldiers from entering Negro-staffed clubs.
The Red Cross clubs, like the American National Red Cross itself, were operated independently from the Army, but the close association between them and the Army overseas did not permit clear distinctions between the two institutions or their policies by the average enlisted man and officer. The Red Cross admitted that where there were no separate clubs and a Negro soldier occasionally came into white-staffed clubs, the Negro soldier himself gave little difficulty. "I must say," Edward J. Beinecke commented, "he conducts himself very well. When there has been friction, it is invariably started by the white soldier." General Lee bore out Mr. Beinecke's statement and Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, theater surgeon, likewise agreed

that Negro soldiers had caused no trouble in the non-segregated hospitals.89 Maj. Gen. Ira C. Faker, commanding the Eighth Air Force, was of similar opinion, holding that where disturbances occurred white troops were responsible for go percent of the trouble.90
Although censorship excerpts cannot be taken at complete face value because of the circumstances of their origin-soldiers' letters do not necessarily reveal the full state of the individual's mind and no method of selection can guarantee an accurate cross-section of soldier opinion-they do reveal the complexity of the racial attitudes which the European theater was attempting to deal with. The majority of letters from white troops, particularly of those newly arrived, commented, month after month, and with varying degrees of amazement, on the lack of a color line in Great Britain and with indignation on the association of British women and Negro soldiers. Some explained that Negro troops had passed themselves off on the unsuspecting Irish and British as American Indians. Others declared that only the lower classes were friendly to Negroes. Some expressed fears of what their racial experience in Britain would lead to at home after the war. Others, as a result of this experience, commented unfavorably on the British people as a whole, an attitude which the theater, trying to cement Allied solidarity, considered especially disturbing. Negro troops, on the other hand, expressed pleasure with the English and the Irish as they found them. Certain of their officers were happy that British custom had removed the problem of overt discrimination and public segregation from their list of troubles. They expressed themselves as satisfied with the conduct of their troops on foreign soil. A few officers not assigned to Negro troops expressed themselves as similarly pleased, though the majority voicing an opinion shared that of white enlisted men. After a time, Negro troops showed a desire to see more women of their own race. But the dominant tone of the letters was one of pleasant surprise on the part of Negro troops and an angry shock on the part of white troops. One WAC officer, after analysing censorship reports for several weeks, reported toward the end of May 1 944 that "The predominant note is that if the invasion doesn't occur soon, trouble will."91
Official concern that no untoward racial disturbance interfere with the mounting of an invasion from the United Kingdom led to certain administrative practices in the employment of Negro troops. For the most part, port battalions and companies were separated by race in their work and in their locations. When two new units were arriving in England in September 1943, for instance, the Chief of Transportation, SOS, advised that if they were white they should be sent to the Bristol Channel "as it is inexpedient to mix white and coloured stevedore troops in the

en route to afield hospital in England (Southampton, 8 June 1944).
same port district." If both were Negro, they should be put in one sector, "say Swansea and Barry."92 Four more arrivals, two white and two Negro, were expected in the near future. "To avoid mixing," the chief of operations of the ETO Transportation Corps determined, "it is proposed placing these as follows: Bristol Channel District, 2 battalions (white); 14th POE, 1 battalion (coloured) ; and Mersey, 1 battalion (coloured)." He had hoped to subdivide a battalion among London, Southampton, and Plymouth "but the Authorities are opposed to placing coloured troops in Plymouth. Accordingly, it will apparently be necessary to restrict this battalion to London aid Southampton."93
Although it grew to a larger size than most, the 14th Major Port, whose incoming battalion was originally to be divided among London, Southampton, and

Plymouth, may be taken as representative of port operating headquarters employing considerable numbers of Negro units. The 14th Port, split into five groups at London, Southampton, Hull, Immingham, and Plymouth upon arrival in England in July 1943, was eventually consolidated at Southampton. It controlled all ports on the south coast of England from Southampton to Land's End, with its main port at Southampton and its main sub-ports at Poole, Plymouth, and Portland-Weymouth. The port of Southampton alone handled a greater lift from D-day to V-E Day than any other port in the world in a comparable period of time. In the first six months after D-day, 6,444 vessels with a dead-weight tonnage of 1,781,753 and carrying 1,934,752 individuals and 170,000 vehicles cleared through Southampton alone. Total strength of the port on 31 January 1945 was 501 officers, 103 warrant officers, and 5,708 enlisted men. Assigned or attached to the port for duty from D-day to V-E Day were 23,138 officers and men. From Southampton, 2,439 LST's sailed during the period and 1,934 sailed from Weymouth. The port not only outloaded vehicles, supplies, and personnel for the far shore; it received personnel evacuated from the Continent and embarked personnel returning to the United States.94
Of the 27 port companies used by this port, 25 were Negro. Eight of its 15 truck companies and both of its truck battalion headquarters were Negro. Its 3 quartermaster service companies, its quartermaster fumigation company, its quartermaster gas supply company, its medical sanitary companies used for handling and unloading wounded men, and its engineer general service regiment were Negro. Its harbor-craft companies, its military police, antiaircraft, marine maintenance, combat engineer, signal, and ordnance units, were all white because most of these types, in accordance with activation policies, had few or no Negro units.
By dint of continuing efforts on the part of the British and Americans, the policy of the European theater developed in such a manner that, in proportion to the number of troops present in the United Kingdom, few incidents of open friction occurred. There were occasional street brawls, fights, and individual encounters, many of them of no more racial significance than those occurring among British and other American troops. The theater asked in 1943 that each of its larger component forces appoint a "specially selected officer" to give full-time duty to the problems of discipline and control relating to Negro troops.95 The Services of Supply, attempting to keep its policy uniform, forbade subordinate commanders to issue instructions or directives on the subject without its prior approval.96 The theater, in October 1943, summarized its evolved policy, calling for the

prevention of incidents and the removal of "weak and inefficient leaders." It reminded commanders that discrimination would be permitted against neither white nor Negro troops and that "Equal opportunities for service and recreation are the right of every American soldier, regardless of branch, race, color, or creed."97 While segregation of races in areas where it was contrary to local practices and customs was declared to be not in accord with theater policy, the theater approved rotation of pass days to nearby towns and the allocation of public facilities, such as dance halls and public houses, to units through control of pass privileges or by placing these places off limits to certain units.98
Upon his return to Britain in 1944, General Eisenhower issued further instructions reiterating this policy and stressing that "Troops must train together, work together and live together in order to attain successful teamwork in campaign. The sharing of work opportunities and recreational facilities must be willingly accepted and utilized to unite more closely the troops of our several commands." Again commanders were reminded of their responsibilities for "exemplifying to their troops a generous attitude of respect for other troops."99 Personnel arriving in the United Kingdom, rapidly increasing in number and bringing a renewal of old problems with them, were ordered indoctrinated on subjects affecting their stay in the British Isles. The absence of a color line in the United Kingdom headed the list.100 When the orientation film, Welcome to Britain, was made, General Lee furthered this effort by appearing in it, answering the queries of an American soldier on how American Negroes should be treated in the United Kingdom.
The European theater accomplished its purpose of preventing racial problems from interfering with the efficiency of the invasion build-up and, later, from interfering with the European campaign itself. The program did not eliminate tension, but it reduced it to the point that complaints and disturbances were often kept on a verbal level where they did no real harm. After the invasion the theater formed a General Inspectorate Section, headed by Maj. Gen. Charles H. Bonesteel. This section, so named to distinguish it from staff sections performing inspections as the term is generally understood,101 and because its name when abbreviated would read "G.I. Section," was an outgrowth of General Marshall's concern that any neglect of combat or service troops in rear areas would endanger efforts against the enemy and present "an unfortunate reaction when these men return to civilian life."102 Complaints "too numerous and too serious to be considered as typical of the normal soldier's discontent" were coming from soldier returnees from all theaters,103

but only the European theater set up a section with continuing finding functions separate from those of The Inspector General and outside the established morale and welfare agencies.104
The General Inspectorate Section included in its purview an examination of racial relations in the areas and installations which it surveyed.105 Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, now Special Advisor to the Theater Commander on Colored Troops, worked closely with the General Inspectorate Section from the beginning. Later he joined it, heading one of its six field teams.106 The other teams continued to include a check of Negro-white relations and welfare in their own agenda. These teams included limited service ex-combat men, whose conversations with other enlisted men and visits to enlisted messes and barracks gave a fuller view of soldiers' thinking than could have been obtained by officer members of the teams. The teams enabled the theater to keep a close check on developments in racial relations as well as in the area of general welfare. Field teams, in emergencies, could make corrective recommendations on the spot, including recommendations to higher commanders for the removal of weak officers and correction of violations of general theater policies.
The organization and employment of Negro service troops in the Oise Section at the time that Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, was moving to Reims was typical of the distribution and control of Negro service units on the Continent. From its Reims headquarters, the Oise Section exercised its command through depots and groups; regiments, hospitals, and battalions were commanded directly and a few engineer units were under the section engineer. The total number of units in the section at the beginning of February 1 945 was 324. Their total white strength was 29,154 and total Negro strength, 14,060. The headquarters command was all white but, under the flexible group system, depots and groups were sometimes mixed, although white and Negro units under the same headquarters were usually located in different towns. For example, Chemical Depot C-939-T at Sommesous had the Negro 32d Chemical Decontamination Company at Avenay, with a detachment at Vregny, and its white depot company at Sommesous. The other three chemical depots in the section had white personnel only. Ordnance Depot O-609 at Vregny had six white ammunition and three Negro quartermaster service companies there and four Negro ammunition companies in other towns. Under the white 261st Ordnance Battalion at Depot O-612 at Maubeuge were one white bomb disposal squad and two white and three Negro ordnance ammunition companies. A separate Negro quartermaster service company was also assigned to the depot. At the Quartermaster Depot Q-180 at Reims, under the white 55th

Quartermaster Base Depot, were a variety of quartermaster battalion headquarters, some white and some Negro, some with all white and some with all Negro units under them and some with white and Negro companies billeted either in the same or in different towns. The 123d Battalion, a Negro unit, controlled a Negro service and a Negro bakery company while the Negro 558th Quartermaster Battalion controlled a Negro and a white service company, both of them at Reims. The white 170th Battalion controlled four white and one Negro gas supply and one Negro service company. The 512th Quartermaster Group (TC) , a Negro headquarters at Soissons, controlled the 476th Quartermaster Battalion (Mobile) (TC), a white headquarters at Cernay les Reims, which in turn controlled eleven truck companies, three white and eight Negro, most of them in different towns. No clashes had occurred between military police and troops and the only difficulty between white and Negro troops occurred on the arrival of airborne troops, who had trouble with the section's white as well as with its Negro personnel. The Negro dump truck companies, attached to larger Negro and white engineer units, came in closest daily contact with the white troops. Of one of these an observer reported, "They got along well with the white soldiers with whom they were associated. They were right in the midst of the airborne troops but there had been no untoward instances whatever."107
During the rapid advance of the

armies in Europe after the breakthrough at Avranches in August 1944, the movement of large tonnages of supplies to the First and Third Armies became imperative. French railroads had been wrecked by the retreating German armies. To meet supply needs, the Transportation Corps devised the Red Ball plan on 21 August, and put it into operation four days later. The plan called for two one-way reserved highway routes marked "Red Ball Trucks Only." The original route, from St. Lo to Paris and return, was later extended to Sommesous, Reims, and Hirson. Red Ball convoys operated from 25 August to 13 November 1944. The truckers carried approximately 412,193 tons of supplies to the armies, covering a total of 121,873, 929 ton-miles during this period. On the average day, 899 vehicles went forward, traveling 1,504,616 ton-miles. The average time for the trip to Paris and return was 53-4 hours; the maximum number of truck units operating on the route was 140, supplemented at the height of operations by trucks manned by personnel of combat and other service units. This number had dwindled to nineteen by the time tactical changes and the development of new ports caused the closing of the route. The majority of the units were Negro companies. Approximately 73 percent of the truck companies in the Motor Transport Service in the European theater were Negro.108
Supplementing the Red Ball Express and replacing it after its operations closed down were several other through highways modeled on it. The White Ball Route, carrying supplies from Le Havre and Rouen to forward areas at Beauvais and Reims for the northern French and Belgian campaigns and to rail transfer points at Paris, began operating with six companies on 25 September, clearing the ports of Le Havre and Rouen as its first mission. The B-B (Bayeaux-Brussels) Red Lion Route transported 500 tons of British petrol and other supplies daily from Bayeaux to the 21 Army Group Roadhead 1 at Brussels for approximately thirty days, beginning 16 September 1 944. Four of the nine truck companies on this route were Negro units. The ABC (Antwerp-Brussels-Charleroi) Route began to operate on 30 November. The Green Diamond Route, operating from 10 October to 1 November, ran between the ports and beaches of Normandy and Dol at the northern base of the Brest peninsula, passing through Avranches and Granville on the way. Two battalions, one of which was Negro, operated nineteen truck companies on this route at the peak of operations. Two battalions, the 467th and 519th, the latter Negro, operated the POL (petroleum, oil, lubricants) routes of the Motor Transport Service. These units began to operate on D plus 8, moving forward as pipelines were laid, loading from pipe taps and storage tanks along the line, and carrying POL to forward dumps for the armies.109 In the Advance Section, Communications Zone, gas supply companies like the 3877th, a corps unit supplying divisional troops, and the 3917th, supplying

Third Army forces from August to V-E Day, took over. These units operated forward dumps, issuing and carrying to divisional units up to 165,000 gallons of gasoline a day.110
In general, the work of service troops at ports and bases and on the roads was that for which they were organized, although occasionally an engineer general service regiment or a chemical unit felt that its training and usefulness were dissipated on guard, prisoner of war, or ration hauling duties.111 The 1323d and 388th Engineer General Service Regiments, while in Britain, formed seven truck companies each within their organizations; each regiment, operating as two battalions, worked under the Normandy Base Section on the Continent. The 84th Chemical Smoke Generator Company, before moving to screen the Third Army's Moselle Crossing at Arnaville, operated as a truck unit, carrying supplies forward over the Red Ball Express route. But, for the most part, in bases and ports around the world units were used either for their primary missions or, as in the cases of engineer units on the Stilwell Road, in capacities beyond original intentions. Engineer separate battalions in the Mediterranean were originally used as general engineer labor, as planned, but gradually their work assignments changed until they were used, in the end, in practically the same manner as general service units. Lacking the training, equipment, and personnel of the general service units, their results were not always comparable to those of the more technical units, but they became valuable reserve forces for emergency jobs. 112 General service engineers often functioned as aviation and construction units.
Most Negro units were not expected to be very successful in supervising native foreign labor. The India-Burma theater reported that it tried to have Negro port companies in Calcutta work with white port companies, supervising Indian labor, only to have the operating efficiency of all units decline. The Negro units went then to separate docks, doing all their own labor, and the white units remained at the King George docks, supervising Indian labor.113 The Persian Gulf reported similarly that white and Negro port companies did not work together harmoniously, though white and Negro engineer units did. Initially there was resentment on the part of Iranian laborers to working under the supervision of Negro troops who had, the Iranians said, formerly been used as slave laborers in America. But, by continuing the supervisory duties of Negro troops, the problem was "gradually overcome, and towards the close of operations no difficulties were experienced."114
There were similar problems in North Africa and Italy where some Negro units had difficulties with both Italian civilian labor and Italian service units, the cobelligerent units formed after the Italian armistice. But the 22d Quartermaster Group which, as the 22d Quartermaster Regiment,

November 1944.
landed at Casablanca on 18 November 1942 in the D plus 5 convoy of the Western Task Force and which operated convoys for both American and French forces, trained 3,500 French enlisted men in the use of lend-lease vehicles in 1942. This unit piled up an efficient work record in North Africa-while assigned to the Atlantic Base Section it drove 7,311,000 truck-miles averaging 664,67 miles a month with an accident average of I per 30,719 miles-and operated later in the Naples and Leghorn areas under Peninsular Base Section. At Naples, beginning in October 1943, it operated a civilian truck pool and in April 1944 it began training Italian truck companies. As a group, the 22d had both white and Negro battalions working on the same missions. It had under its control from October 1943 a total of fifteen separate Negro truck battalions, four white truck battalions, two British truck battalions, seven Italian battalions with twenty-nine companies, two Negro service companies, and miscellaneous attached Negro units. Of the 13,000 men coming under its command from October 1943 to the end of the war, only half (6,750) were Negroes,

though the normal proportion at a given period was 4,500 Negroes out of 6,500 troops. Its units performed efficiently in this variegated command setup. Its two original battalions, the 37th and the 110th, and its first added battalion, the 125th, all three Negro units, were the first truck battalions in the theater to receive the Meritorious Service Plaque. As a regiment and group the unit had mixed white and Negro officers. In the interest of efficiency the unit not only permitted no segregation between officers and used a single standard in promoting whites and Negroes, but it also departed from general Army policy by promoting Negro officers to positions over white officers. Two of its companies were commanded by Negro officers with white subordinates. The 22d Quartermaster Group reported that "There is no friction or resentment against these officers having their position and command, because they are recognized as the most capable and qualified and entitled to the position, and they observe the highest degree of conduct themselves in relations to their white associates."115
Service Units in the Combat Zone
Most Negro service units never got close to the enemy, but some did, as elements of landing forces and through attachments to divisions and other combat units engaged at the front.
For the most part Negro units in Pacific landing forces were quartermaster, port, and engineer types, attached to divisions, engineer special brigades, construction groups, or boat and shore battalions. These units usually reverted to garrison forces once an island was declared secure. For the invasion of Angaur in the Palaus on 17 September 1944, for example, the assault echelon contained one white and one Negro engineer aviation battalion and one Negro port company among other service units needed for immediate use on the beaches. One port company and a platoon of a quartermaster service company were attached to the 81st Division for its landings; a Dukw company was attached to the assault forces. The first echelon contained a quartermaster service company, an engineer service company, and a laundry truck company. The technical, bombardment, and antiaircraft units in these echelons were white.116
When assault forces departed Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, on 13 October 1944 to take part in the Leyte landings on 20 October, the 394th Port Battalion's 609th Port Company had one platoon with each of the three battalions of the 34th Infantry, each aboard a different ship with the battalion to which it was attached. While the ships were under fire, the three elements of the 609th assisted in unloading troops and equipment. The three platoons finished their tasks in record time. Two then proceeded to shore where the infantry had advanced about two hundred yards in from the beach. The third platoon moved to a Navy ship and discharged cargo until nightfall. Through the night, the port troops received intense small arms and automatic

weapons fire, suffering their first casualty other than men wounded in raids at Humboldt Bay.
The next morning the two platoons on shore went back into the bay to help the third platoon complete its unloading task. For the next three days, while enemy planes raided the harbor, the entire company, except the headquarters, lived and worked on the Liberty ship D. Fields, working five hatches from sunrise to sunset and using every available man, including cooks and kitchen police, who, since they had to be aboard to feed the men, pitched in between times. A burning Japanese bomber, hit by American antiaircraft fire, went into a dive and hit the ship while the company's gangs were working the hold, causing additional casualties. Two days later, when the company had returned to the beach, a typhoon blew in, injuring two more men. While men of the unit were salvaging cargo in another ship already damaged by enemy bombs, a hatch exploded; of the six men in the hold two were killed, one later died, and two others were severely burned.
The 609th Port Company remained on the beach through December, unloading, sorting, and delivering supplies through continuous air raids. On 1o December a nitroglycerin explosion of unknown cause demolished its entire camp area, killing and wounding several men. Despite air raids that brought more losses and despite poor lighterage, the unit averaged two to three hundred tons for each eight-hour period.117
In the Iwo Jima landings, beginning on 1g February 1945, the 442d and 592d Port Companies and the 471st, 473d, and 476th Amphibian Truck Companies were assigned to the Garrison Force but attached to the V Amphibious Corps (Marine) for the assault.118 One port company remained attached to corps; the other went to the 5th Marine Division. One Dukw company was attached to the 13th Marine Regiment, one remained attached to corps, and the third was attached to the 4th Marine Division with the primary mission of hauling ammunition and cargo for the 14th Marine Regiment and evacuating casualties from the beaches. The 592d Port Company, divided into three groups, landed in the fourth wave and began unloading small boats as they arrived on the beach; three of its crane operators went to the 5th Pioneer Battalion where they operated eight-ton cranes on the beach. The Dukw companies, carrying ammunition and supplies between ship and shore and returning to ships with wounded from the beaches, were given full credit by the Marine Corps for their work in the Iwo Jima landings.119
For the larger landings in Europe Negro units were but a small part of the forces scheduled for the initial landings on 6 June 1944. The First Army's assault forces on D-day at OMAHA Beach had less than 500 Negroes out of 29,714

troops. These were one section of the 3275th Quartermaster Service Company and the 320th Antiaircraft Balloon Battalion (VLA) (less one battery) . In the force of 31,912, landing on UTAH Beach, approximately 1,200 were Negroes - troops of the remaining battery of the 320th Balloon Battalion, the 582d Engineer Dump Truck Company, the 385th Quartermaster Truck Company, and the 490th Port Battalion with its 226th, 227th, 228th, and 229th Port Companies. In the follow-up forces arriving later on D-day and on the following days there were more of the needed service troops, including quartermaster truck companies attached to divisions, the 100th Ordnance Ammunition Battalion, which was to supply ammunition to the First Army across Europe, amphibian truck companies to work across the beaches and, later, at heavily damaged ports like Cherbourg and Le Havre, and medical sanitary companies for the evacuation of the wounded to the United Kingdom.
Occasionally, special purpose units were employed in landings. At Salerno, the first Mediterranean assault landing to use smoke screens extensively, Navy and Army units laid screens on and off the beaches over an area twenty miles long to protect landing craft from enemy fire. In the D-day assault on 9 September 1943, a detachment of the 24th Chemical Decontamination Company, equipped with M 1 smoke pots, and Navy personnel with generators mounted in boats screened the Paestum beaches where boats were being unloaded. During the following days the unit operated thirty-six naval mechanical generators ashore. The men laid a smoke haze daily at twilight to conceal anchorage and unloading areas from enemy bombers and screened the beaches during alerts. Smoke generally covered an area of twenty to thirty square miles. Not a single ship in the smoke cloud at Paestum was hit by enemy bombs.120 The 24th, with other smoke companies, moved to Naples to maintain the smoke screen there. For the Anzio landings on 22 January 1944 the 24th was attached to VI Corps to provide smoke as needed. Equipped with eight Navy generators and a quantity of smoke pots it went ashore, laying its first screen on 24 January. More generators were brought in later. A British smoke unit took over the operation of smoke pots on 8 February, leaving the 24th free to operate mechanical generators, now thirty-six in number. These units ran the antiaircraft smoke screen until 24 February, when the 179th Smoke Generator Company, a white unit, arrived to extend the line to Nettuno. At Anzio, the smoke operators lived the life of front-line infantrymen, with foxholes and caves dug, the Fifth Army chemical officer reported, so that "a German shell would have to execute a corkscrew to get at them." 121 For its work at Anzio the 24th Decontamination Company received one of the first four Fifth Army plaques and the first awarded to a chemical unit. This company later operated chemical depots.

The first platoon of the 387th Engineer Battalion (separate) landed in the initial wave at Anzio, going ashore from LCT's at 0400 on 22 January 1944 with the advance shore party two miles south of Nettuno. The remainder of its Companies B and D, after sitting through two air attacks on an LST offshore, landed in the afternoon, dug foxholes, erected shelter tents, and began unloading supplies. The rest of the battalion, though arriving on D-day, had to wait, as corps troops, until the next morning to land. With hand tools, they worked on the maintenance of the overburdened roads. One sergeant blazed a shorter trail through mine fields for the medics and directed their removal of wounded soldiers. The men of the 387th unloaded ships into Dukw's and handled supplies on the beaches through many weeks of day and night air and artillery attacks. They used a large graph, posted daily, to spur unloading. For seven days the 500 men of the battalion averaged 1,940 tons a day, all handled by hand. Gradually the companies of the battalion were released from port duties. They moved to construction, operation of the engineer depot, maintenance of the runway at Nettuno airport, and operation of quarries. At times they were attached to white engineer combat and aviation units. This battalion, described by the Associated Press in a dispatch of 29 February 1944 as having been under "more fire than any other Negro unit in the Fifth Army," remained at the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead for five months. It lost four officers and eleven enlisted men killed, three officers and fifty-eight enlisted men wounded, and received three silver stars for gallantry during the period. During the attack on Rome it maintained the Nettuno-La Ferriere and, later, the Anzio road. It operated an asphalt mixing plant, salvaged steel, repaired submarine cable, operated trash and rubbish dumps, unloaded Bailey bridges, and furnished bulldozers, air compressors, and motorized graders to various jobs, all in heavily mined areas. For a separate battalion, intended to do only rudimentary labor, the 387th was working ahead of itself. While attached to the Negro 92d Engineer General Service Regiment for operations on 9 June 1944, one of its companies removed its first Bailey bridge. The movement of the 387th, with all the impedimenta gathered during the past few months for its varied jobs, was now difficult. "When you fill all the vehicles, you have loaded all the equipment, but have about 1005 men left over," the battalion described it.122 It returned to Anzio at the end of June. There it took over the work of the white 540th Combat Engineers, a unit with which it had worked during the beachhead days. Then it had repaired bombed water and sewage systems; now it built and removed Bailey bridges. The battalion's companies began to work independently at new and different duties. Two of these companies, never having heard of a bridge train, were told late in June, "You are now a bridge train!" 123 They became bridge companies for the American IV Corps and the French Expeditionary Corps. The companies had to learn quickly the nomenclature and the loading method for all Bailey and treadway bridge parts, train thirty new drivers for 2i/2-ton trucks, and train

eight new drivers for six-ton Brockway bridge construction trucks (vehicles that mounted hydraulic cranes for lifting and placing bridge parts). Additional mechanics to maintain this equipment, which was already in poor condition, had to be found. The companies trained them. These companies delivered bridges to combat engineers, a job on which one officer and two enlisted men lost their lives. Another company took over the Fifth Army Bridge Depot on 5 July, learning all new terms, handling all types of stream crossing equipment, and learning to repair pneumatic floats, assault boats, and floating Baileys. When two other depots opened, the company operated these, acquiring first one and then two Italian engineer companies to do the bulk of the hand-loading and unloading. These depots moved by leapfrogging, following the combat units of Fifth Army. At Florence, in November 1944, one depot was flooded; the company in charge then issued Bailey bridge accessories from an assault boat.124
Though they were neither trained nor equipped for it, truck and troop transport units attached to divisions had frequent contacts with the enemy and sometimes joined in the fighting. Some of these units were attached so long to the same divisions that they were treated as organic units.125 Units to which these companies were attached often had misgivings about them. They wondered if the truckers would continue their hauling when the going got tough. Some found justification for their misgivings, but the commander of an infantry regiment motorized by the attachment of two Negro truck companies-companies that were "not hand-picked; they were just plain, ordinary soldiers like all the rest of us, sweating out a job that was going to be long, hard, dirty, and bloody"-described their actions as part of a special task force attacking German positions south of St. L6 when, shortly after daylight, the regiment struck the enemy:
As daylight neared, confusion mounted. Our columns clogged in endless traffic jams, bogged down in bomb craters, crawled through detours over broken fields, struggled across improvised stream crossings. All around us the night erupted with flaming towns. German artillery and bombs added to the confusion. Every once in a while a huge German tank would pound out of the darkness and cut into our column, thinking it his. Running fights ebbed and flowed about us. As daylight broke, we were literally cheek by jowl with the Germans-in the same villages, in the same fields, in the same hedgerows, in the same farm yards. A hundred sporadic fights broke out-to the front, to the flanks, to the rear, within the columns, everywhere. It was early that morning that I first became aware of the fact that our Negro truck drivers were leaving their trucks and whooping it up after German soldiers all over the landscape. This, I might add, is not hearsay. I personally saw it over and over again in the early hours of that wild morning. But in addition to my own personal observation, many reports reached me throughout the day of the voluntary participation of these troops in battle and their gallant conduct.126
The 3398th Quartermaster Truck Company, attached to the 6th Armored

during a routine inspection.
Division moving into Brittany, put out its defenses and joined an armed reconnaissance with other units in division trains when it was reported that 200 enemy troops were headed for the area where this truck company was located. Late in the afternoon eight German planes attacked the trains area. Two officers and two enlisted men of the truck company teamed up to capture a pilot parachuting from one of the three planes shot down. The company's convoys were attacked thereafter by enemy planes, and trucks were struck by shrapnel and shellfire.127 The 57th Ordnance Ammunition Company, during the pursuit across France, found itself engaging sixty-five of the enemy at Peronne when no other American units were in the area. It killed fifty and captured the other fifteen, its members receiving two Croix de Guerre, one Silver Star, and one Bronze Star for the exploit.128

Another truck unit, the 666th, supplying the 101st and 82d Airborne Divisions over "Hell's Highway" to Eindhoven and Nijmegen, Holland, had trucks destroyed and drivers killed and injured by bombing. Carrying troops in support of the 82d Airborne Division in February 1945, it had several trucks shelled near Schmitt, Germany, with losses of infantrymen and drivers. Enemy shells and bombs were not this unit's main concern. It considered its greatest difficulties to be shell fragments, glass, bullets, and cartridge cases exposed in roadways when warmer weather brought thaws. In one 24-hour period the company had over a hundred punctures on its forty-odd vehicles. The 666th carried forward 2,800 tons and 17,350 soldiers for 188,587 vehicle miles over icy and snowbound roads between I January and 31 March 1945. For its "outstanding accomplishments" it received a formal commendation from III Corps.129
Medical ambulance companies were often as close to the enemy and as closely associated with forward units as the truck companies. The 588th Medical Ambulance Company, attached to the 66th Medical Group, worked in such close support of the 7th Armored Division as it spearheaded the XX ("Ghost") Corps drive across France that its ambulances were an integral part of the division so far as rations, gasoline convoys, communications, priorities in bridge crossings, and bivouac sites were concerned. Armored divisions and their medical companies moved so fast that the length of the ambulance haul to the rear was usually double that of ambulances working with infantry divisions.
Early in the Battle of the Bulge, on 20 December 1944, the enemy attacked the 7th Armored Division's Trains near Samree, Belgium. The division quartermaster, with troops of his own section, Negro troops of the attached 3967th Troop Transport Company, and white troops of a platoon of antiaircraft guns from Battery D, 203d Antiaircraft .Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, threw up a defense and held the enemy off for about four hours while awaiting expected help from the 3d Armored Division located to the north. Medium tanks dispatched to relieve the quartermaster never arrived. The antiaircraft gunners lost their weapons to enemy fire, but not before they had knocked out two enemy tanks and run out of ammunition. The quartermaster and antiaircraft troops finally had to pull out.130 After the Battle of the Bulge was over and the 7th Armored Division had a lull sufficient for training programs, each unit of the trains, including the 3967th, was given a 57mm. gun and instruction in its use. Both Negro and white quartermaster units in the Bulge did what they could to hold off the enemy.131
These were the less usual examples among the Army's Negro service units. For the most part the quartermaster truck and service companies, the laun-

dry and dump truck companies, the engineer separate and the port units performed their routine duties as assigned, within the limitations of their abilities, their leadership, and their immediate past training. There were few heroics and few chances for them. These units' employment careers, in general, were often humdrum, their efficiency run-of-the-mine, their problems only ameliorated and not solved by their assignment to overseas duties. While command problems were considerable, they were not in most cases insurmountable. Relations between White and Negro troops and between Negro troops and civilians in foreign countries were more often good than poor. The efficiency of most Negro units was not so high as it might have been but when the deficiencies of their training, both military and civilian, are considered, it was generally as high as it could have been under the circumstances. It was universally conceded to increase under conditions of good leadership, good surroundings, and definite, visible mission. Not infrequently, when these conditions obtained, the work potential increased beyond expectations.


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