Chapter XXII
Volunteer Infantry Replacements
In early December 1944, shortages of infantry rifle replacements in the European theater began to mount sharply. The theater had been experiencing rifleman shortages since July 1944, and its Ground Force Replacement Command (GFRC) had been engaged in a training program to convert basic privates from other arms and services to infantry.1 In December the forecast of shortages increased rapidly as the supply of replacements available from the United States declined. As of 8 December, a week before the beginning of the German counterattack in the Ardennes caused further depletions, the theater estimated that there would be an overall deficiency of more than 29,000 riflemen by the end of the month.2 Such a deficiency would effectively curtail plans for pressing the attack against Germany. By the beginning of the Ardennes counterattack, the theater had already planned to convert to infantry as many physically fit men from service units as possible. These men would be replaced in service units by limited assignment men. Basics from new divisions were already being used to fill the infantry battalions of veteran divisions and a theater G-1 delegation was preparing to leave for Washington to present the case for more and prompter deliveries of infantry replacements. Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee planned to release and train 20,000 additional infantry riflemen from his Communications Zone units.3
General Lee, after consulting with General Eisenhower and with army commanders, proposed adding to this number physically qualified men from the Communications Zone's Negro units.4 General Eisenhower, General Bradley, and the army commanders agreed. General Lee then consulted with Brig. Gen. Henry J. Matchett, commanding the Ground Force Reinforcement Command, and Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, then Special Advisor and Coordinator to the Theater Commander on Negro Troops. General Davis responded enthusiastically and, on Christmas Day, 1944, General Davis, General Matchett, and the GFRC G-1 drew up a plan to train Negro volunteers

as individual infantry replacements.5 General Lee had already prepared a call to troops, which went out to his base and section commanders on 26 December with instructions that it be reproduced and disseminated to troops within twenty-four hours. It read:
1. The Supreme Commander desires to destroy the enemy forces and end hostilities in this theater without delay. Every available weapon at our disposal must be brought to bear upon the enemy. To this end the Commanding General, Com Z, is happy to offer to a limited number of colored troops who have had infantry training, the privilege of joining our veteran units at the front to deliver the knockout blow. The men selected are to be in the grades of Private First Class and Private. Non-commissioned officers may accept reduction in order to take advantage of this opportunity. The men selected are to be given a refresher course with emphasis on weapon training.
2. The Commanding General makes a special appeal to you. It is planned to assign you without regard to color or race to the units where assistance is most needed, and give you the opportunity of fighting shoulder to shoulder to bring about victory. Your comrades at the front are anxious to share the glory of victory with you. Your relatives and friends everywhere have been urging that you be granted this privilege. The Supreme Commander, your Commanding General, and other veteran officers who have served with you are confident that many of you will take advantage of this opportunity and carry on in keeping with the glorious record of our colored troops in our former wars.
3. This letter is to be read confidentially to the troops immediately upon its receipt and made available in Orderly Rooms. Every assistance must be promptly given qualified men to volunteer for this service.6
Two days later the formal plan, based on General Davis' conference with the GFRC staff, went out to commanders. It provided that the initial quota of volunteers be kept to 2,000, the largest number the GFRC could handle at once and a number which would not reduce any service unit by more than 3.5 percent at the most. Personnel with the highest qualifications would get first priority and no man with an Army General Classification Test score lower than Grade IV would be taken. The number of volunteers would be reported by 9 January 1945 so that quotas could be allocated to units. The men selected were to report to the 16th Reinforcement Depot at Compiegne not later than 10 January 1945. They would be relieved from their present units and attached unassigned to the Ground Force Reinforcement Command. The retrained personnel would then be assigned to combat units as infantry reinforcements without regard to race.7
Before the plan could be carried out, a number of changes, some resulting from misunderstanding and others from apprehension, occurred. The plan itself represented a major break with traditional Army policy, for it proposed mixing Negro soldiers into otherwise white units neither on a quota nor a smaller unit basis but as individuals fitted in where needed. When the cir-

cular letter to troops reached Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), Lt. Gen. Walter B. Smith, chief of staff, held that its promise to assign Negro troops "without regard to color or race to the units where assistance is most needed, and give you the opportunity of fighting shoulder to shoulder to bring about victory" was a clear invitation to embarrassment to the War Department. Failing to convince General Lee that he should change his letter, he put the matter to General Eisenhower:
Although I am now somewhat out of touch with the War Department's negro policy, I did, as you know, handle this during the time I was with General Marshall. Unless there has been a radical change, the sentence which I have marked in the attached circular letter will place the War Department in very grave difficulties. It is inevitable that this statement will get out, and equally inevitable that the result will be that every negro organization, pressure group and newspaper will take the attitude that, while the War Department segregates colored troops into organizations of their own against the desires and pleas of all the negro race, the Army is perfectly willing to put them in the front lines mixed in units with white soldiers, and have them do battle when an emergency arises. Two years ago I would have considered the marked statement the most dangerous thing that I had ever seen in regard to negro relations.
I have talked with Lee about it, and he can't see this at all. He believes that it is right that colored and white soldiers should be mixed in the same company. With this belief I do not argue, but the War Department policy is different. Since I am convinced that this circular letter will have the most serious repercussions in the United States, I believe that it is our duty to draw the War Department's attention to the fact that this statement has been made, to give them warning as to what may happen and any facts which they may use to counter the pressure which will undoubtedly be placed on them.
Further, I recommend most strongly that Communications Zone not be permitted to issue any general circulars relating to negro policy until I have had a chance to see them. This is because I know more about the War Department's and General Marshall's difficulties with the negro question than any other man in this theater, including General B. O. Davis whom Lee consulted in the matter-and I say this with all due modesty. I am writing this as I may not see you tomorrow morning. Will talk to you about it when I return.8
General Eisenhower personally rewrote the directive, changing all but the first two sentences and making dissemination permissive instead of mandatory. "This is replacing the original & is something that can not possibly run counter to regs in a time like this," he told General Smith.9 The new directive, officially approved by both General Eisenhower and General Lee, appeared over General Lee's signature with the same date, file number, and subject as the earlier directive, under a cover letter ordering return and destruction of all copies of the original version. The substitute letter read:
1. The Supreme Commander desires to destroy the enemy forces and end hostilities in this theater without delay. Every available weapon at our disposal must be brought to bear upon the enemy. To this end the Theater Commander has directed the Communications Zone Commander to make the greatest possible use of limited service men within service units and to

survey our entire organization in an effort to produce able bodied men for the front lines. This process of selection has been going on for some time but it is entirely possible that many men themselves, desiring to volunteer for front line service, may be able to point out methods in which they can be replaced in their present jobs. Consequently, Commanders of all grades will receive voluntary applications for transfer to the Infantry and forward them to higher authority with recommendations for appropriate type of replacement. This opportunity to volunteer will be extended to all soldiers without regard to color or race, but preference will normally be given to individuals who have had some basic training in Infantry. Normally, also, transfers will be limited to the grade of Private and Private First Class unless a noncommissioned officer requests a reduction.
2. In the event that the number of suitable negro volunteers exceeds the replacement needs of negro combat units, these men will be suitably incorporated in other organizations so that their service and their fighting spirit may be efficiently utilized.
3. This letter may be read confidentially to the troops and made available in Orderly Rooms. Every assistance must be promptly given qualified men who volunteer for this service.10
The new letter allowed for further changes in the initial plan for individual replacements but the revision appeared too late to halt the distribution of the first version completely. The Normandy Base Section, for example, had already distributed the earlier letter to the commanders of all Negro units on 28 December and had sent copies to both of its districts.11
The revised letter could be interpreted in a number of ways. There were no Negro infantry units in the theater. The theater had long been concerned with replacements for its Negro artillery, tank, and tank destroyer units, for it had already been told that none would be available from the United States. If Negro volunteers from service units were to be retrained for combat use, the greatest immediate need was in units like the 761st Tank and 3334 Field Artillery Battalions whose losses without replacements threatened their combat efficiency and, in the case of the 333d threatened their existence. The revised letter seemed to direct that Negro volunteers would first be used for these units. But the GFRS was not equipped to convert individuals to any service other than infantry and the smaller Negro combat support units were already operating under a system, admittedly not the happiest solution, of retraining their own replacements from volunteers and replacements trained in other branches. Since the revised letter could still be interpreted to mean that any excess Negro volunteers would be placed in white units in the same manner as white reinforcements, SHAEF G-1 pressed for a further clarification. After determining that General Eisenhower did not desire to place Negro trainees in white organizations as individuals and that he preferred to form the Negro trainees into "units which could be substituted for white units in order that white units could be drawn out of line and rested," SHAEF G-1 prepared a new letter directing that the Negro volunteers be trained as reinforcements for existing Negro combat units in the theater and that any excess

learning how to assemble a BAR.
be formed into separate infantry units for assignment to an army group. Initially, the goal would be one battalion; subsequently, if numbers warranted, this battalion would be expanded to a regiment. All other instructions were rescinded.12
Originally, "in fairness to all concerned," this new directive was to be sent to all Negro units to interpret paragraph 2 of the revised letter of 26 December. After further discussions, distribution was confined to the theater G-3 and G-4, to the Commanding General, GFRC, and to General Davis. It went out under a covering letter indicating that it was an interpretation of the words "other organizations" in the revised December letter.13 The change

in plan did not, therefore, reach Negro troops during the period of volunteering.
By February, 4,562 Negro troops had volunteered, many of the noncommissioned officers among them taking reductions in rank to do so.14 The first 2,800 reported to the Ground Force Reinforcement Command in January and early February, after which the flow of volunteers was stopped. The service units from which these men came parallelled closely the distribution of Negroes by branch: 38 percent came from engineer units, 29 percent from quartermaster, 26 percent from transportation, 9 percent from signal, 2 percent from ordnance, and the remaining 2 percent from units of other branches. Sixty-three percent had formerly had one of the six following military occupational specialties, in order of frequency: truck driver, duty soldier, longshoreman, basic, construction foreman, and cargo checker. Like other volunteers, they were somewhat younger than average-10 percent of the Negro riflemen were thirty years old or older as compared with 20 percent of white riflemen. They had somewhat better educational backgrounds and test scores than the average for Negro soldiers in the European theater but the differences between them and other Negro troops in these respects were not so great as the differences between them and the average white troops. Of the white riflemen in the ETO, 41 percent were high school graduates and 71 percent were in AGCT classes I, II, and III; of the Negro infantry reinforcements, 22 percent were high school graduates and 29 percent were in classes I, II, and III; of all Negroes in ETO, 18 percent were high school graduates and 17 percent were in Classes I, II, and III.15 The important difference between these soldiers and other Negro troops was, therefore, that they had volunteered on the basis of a call to duty under circumstances unusual to their former Army experience. Only their motivation and their method of employment set them off sharply from other Negro troops.
Retraining was conducted at the 16th Reinforcement Depot at Compiegne, which had been retraining individuals as riflemen since November. The Negro trainees were organized into the 47th Reinforcement Battalion, 5th Retraining Regiment, under the command of Col. Alexander George. According to the depot staff, the Negro volunteers approached their work with a will. There were proportionately fewer absentees and fewer disciplinary problems among the Negro trainees than among the white soldiers being retrained as infantrymen.16
The question of how to carry out the latest directive on the completion of the training of these infantrymen arose toward the end of January 1945. The Ground Force Reinforcement System was equipped to train individual replacements only; the newer provision that Negro trainees in excess of those needed in combat support units be trained as a battalion could not be met

trainees march out for a day of intensive training, Noyon, France, February 1945.
by the system. In the meantime, command of the system changed and responsibility for it shifted from General Lee's Communications Zone to Lt. Gen. Ben Lear, newly arrived in the theater as deputy theater commander. General Lee now obtained a new interpretation of General Eisenhower's wishes and passed them on to General Lear. General Lee reminded General Lear that the army commanders and General Eisenhower had personally approved the original plan with the understanding that the men so trained would be used in infantry units. He informed General Lear that General Eisenhower "now desires that these colored riflemen reinforcements have their training completed as members of Infantry rifle platoons familiar with the Infantry rifle platoon weapons." These platoons would be made available to army commanders who would then provide platoon leaders, platoon sergeants, and, if necessary, squad leaders. "It is my feeling," General Lee said, "that we should afford the volunteers the full opportunity for Infantry riflemen service. Therefore we should not assign: them as Tank or Artillery reinforcements unless they express such preference. To do otherwise would be breaking faith, in my opinion."17
The Reinforcement Command had enough volunteers to form 45 to 47 platoons, including overstrength provided to compensate for the expected lack of further reinforcements for these units.

The first 2,253 men were ready by I March. They were organized into 37 platoons: 25 went to 12th Army Group and 12 to 6th Army Group, joining about to March. A second group was distributed later, 12 platoons going to 12th Army Group and 4 to 6th Army Group. The divisions sent one platoon leader and one sergeant to meet each platoon at the 16th Depot. The possibility of receiving needed replacements, especially in early March when the spring offensive and the crossing of the Rhine were in the offing, was readily accepted by most divisions. Army group and army commanders were given discretion in the use of the platoons. They could be assigned to divisions as platoons or they could be assigned in larger groupings. They could later be grouped into units as large as a battalion if so desired.18
In 12th Army Group the platoons were assigned to divisions in groups of three and the divisions, retaining them as platoons, usually assigned one to each regiment. The regiments, in turn, selected a company to which the units went as a fourth rifle platoon.19
In most divisions, the platoons were given additional training periods of varying lengths before commitment. In others, such as the divisions headed across the Remagen Bridge, the platoons arrived just in time for immediate employment. Where arrival of the Negro platoons coincided with a period of heavy fighting, their welcome as fresh replacements was warmer than in units that were then engaged in training only.20 But divisional training periods were valuable both to the platoons and to the divisions' attitude toward accepting them. "They had had some sort of training before they joined us," one assistant division commander explained, "but we wanted to make sure they knew all the tricks of infantry fighting. We assigned our best combat leaders as instructors. I watched those lads train and if ever men were in dead earnest, they were."21 In some cases the platoons were given the division patch and a brief indoctrination in the division's history and accomplishments, plus personal welcomes by the division or assistant division commander.22
In most instances, the platoons quickly identified themselves with the more than three dozen battalions and companies to which they were distributed. They were employed just as any other platoon within their companies, a point frequently noted by their regiments. Some went to veteran regiments which, like those of the 1st and 9th Divisions, had fought in Europe and Africa. Others went to newer units like the 12th and 14th Armored Divisions, and the 69th, 78th, 99th, and 104th In-

fantry Divisions. These divisions played varying roles in the concluding months of the war. Some still met hard fighting in their marches across the Rhine and across central Germany; others found resistance collapsing all around them and spent the last weeks of the war rounding up the enemy and establishing provisional military governments.
Army and theater headquarters were considerably more interested in the careers of the platoons than were the units which, having accepted them, proceeded to employ them as they -would have any other platoons. Selected divisions were required to report weekly on the strength and casualties of the platoons-their casualties were usually proportionate and in some instances relatively higher than those of comparable platoons in the same unit. Division G-1's were initially concerned about grades and promotions for the members of the platoons, many of which had arrived with all of their members rated as privates and privates first class. Strenuous efforts to determine whether the platoons had their own tables of organization with authorized ratings or whether the Negro riflemen were eligible for promotion within the tables of organization of their units and whether their members were eligible for officer candidate quotas was a question of concern both to the Reinforcement System and to the divisions. Army headquarters determined that the platoons would be assigned noncommissioned grades, a procedure considered only fair now that the Negro riflemen were not to be integrated individually, but in most instances authority for these promotions did not arrive in time to affect the organization of the platoons. Most of the platoons, including those organized as provisional companies with the armored divisions, finished the war without ratings.
At the close of the first calendar month after the platoons joined their units, divisions had already formed their impressions of the Negro replacements. The 104th Division, whose platoons had joined while the division was defending the west banks of the Rhine at Cologne, commented: "Their combat record has been outstanding. They have without exception proven themselves to be good soldiers. Some are being recommended for the Bronze Star Medal."23 When General Davis stopped at 12th Army Group headquarters on his way to observe the platoons a month after they had joined their units, he found that General Bradley was well satisfied with the reports of the performance and conduct of the Negro reinforcements. General Hodges stated that First Army's divisions had given excellent reports on their Negro platoons. As General Davis went down through corps and division to regiment and battalion and finally to a company-Company E of the Goth Regiment, 9th Infantry Division-he found similar reports of satisfaction. At Company E, the company and platoon commanders and several enlisted men, including the white platoon sergeant, recounted their experiences with enthusiasm. All officers and men, from the regimental commander down, reported high morale and confirmed that the platoon was functioning as planned.24
The 60th Infantry's Negro platoon had

had its first heavy going less than a fortnight before, on 5 April, when it and the other platoons of its company took Lengenbach. "This was the colored troops' first taste of combat," the regiment's combat historian recorded, "and they took a big bite."25 Four days later one of these men, Pfc. Jack Thomas, won the Distinguished Service Cross for leading his squad on a mission to knock out an enemy tank that was providing heavy caliber support for a hostile roadblock. Thomas deployed his squad and advanced upon the enemy position. He hurled two hand grenades, wounding several of the enemy. When two of his men at a rocket launcher were wounded, Thomas took up the weapon and launched a rocket at the Germans, preventing them from manning their tank. He then picked up one seriously wounded member of the rocket launching team and, through small arms and automatic weapons fire, carried him to safety.26
Officers and men in other divisions gave General Davis similar reports of their satisfaction with the Negro reinforcements. One division commander, Maj. Gen. Edwin F. Parker of the 78th Division, whose Negro platoons, joining at the Remagen bridgehead, were the first Negro combat troops east of the Rhine, expressed the wish that he could obtain more of the Negro riflemen.27 The 104th Division's G-1 noted that he gave General Davis a very satisfactory report.28 He told the visiting general:
Morale: Excellent. Manner of performance: Superior. Men are very eager to close with the enemy and to destroy him. Strict attention to duty, aggressiveness, common sense and judgment under fire has won the admiration of all the men in the company. The colored platoon after initial success continued to do excellent work. Observation discloses that these people observe all the rules of the book. When given a mission they accept it with enthusiasm, and even when losses to their platoon were inflicted the colored boys accepted these losses as part of war, and continued on their mission. The Company Commander, officers, and men of Company "F" all agree that the colored platoon has a calibre of men equal to any veteran platoon. Several decorations for bravery are in the process of being awarded to the members of colored platoons.29
The three platoons attached to the three regiments of the 1st Infantry Division illustrate the range and circumstances of employment of Negro reinforcements within a single division. The 26th Infantry's platoon, continuously engaged from 12 March to 8 May, varied in strength from 36 to 31 men. They took their turn at every assignment within their company: patrolling, outposting, assault platoon, support platoon in attacks, and platoon in defense. While little time was available for training-the platoon upon arrival had had individual training only-the regiment estimated that combat efficiency went up

from 30 percent to an estimated 8o percent by the end of the second week, a development which the regiment ascribed to an "increase in confidence and training brought about by joint integrated action in combat." 30 Efficiency increased further in the next weeks and the platoon took its "full share of this almost continuous fighting and maneuvering."31 Replacements kept this platoon operating as an entity, but the platoon assigned to Company B, 16th Infantry, had thirty men wounded and nine killed in action, with the result that on V-E Day it had only fifteen men present for duty. When its platoon strength fell too low to operate as a platoon the Negro riflemen were used as a squad or squads in a white platoon. Company B's Negro reinforcements participated in every battle from 12 March to 8 May. In their first action, they were "over-eager and aggressive" and consequently suffered severe casualties. Despite their casualties, their success in battle was good and they took their assigned objectives in an aggressive manner. White platoons "like[d] to fight beside them because they laid a large volume of fire on the enemy positions." Their discipline was good. They had only "three or four" minor company punishments under the 104th Article of War and no courts-martial offenses.32 The platoon with Company B, 18th Infantry, had a strength varying from 20 to 43 men. It, too, was employed "in an identical manner to any other rifle platoon in the regiment," and, from its first contact with the enemy on 18 March near Eudenbach in the Remagen bridgehead, it participated in all company combat engagements until hostilities ceased. The aggressiveness of this platoon was both an asset and a drawback, for at times it overran objectives and became overextended. Despite a "slightly more pronounced" nervousness when subjected to shell fire when in defense at night, the record of its men "as a whole in combat was very satisfactory and the platoon can most certainly be considered a battle success."33 When this platoon's white sergeant was wounded, he was replaced by a Negro who performed "all the duties of a platoon sergeant, in and out of combat, in a superior manner." 34 From another division came similar reports. The Negro platoons of the 99th Division, characterized as employed "just as any other platoon,"
. . . performed in an excellent manner at all times while in combat. These men were courageous fighters and never once did they fail to accomplish their assigned mission. They were particularly good in town fighting and [were often used as the assault platoon with good results. The platoon assigned to the 3934 Infantry is credited with killing approximately too Germans and capturing 900. During this action only three of their own men were killed and fifteen wounded.35
Units, in their own unofficial accounts, were more laconic. For example, the 393d's platoon, in the regiment's photographic history for its men, was described

as "The Colored Platoon of Easy Company-one of the best platoons in the regiment." 36
There was less satisfaction with the Negro riflemen assigned to the Seventh Army. The 6th Army Group and Seventh Army had not been included in the original discussions of the use of Negro riflemen. On the decision of General Patch, the twelve platoons assigned to Seventh Army were organized into provisional companies and sent to the 12th Armored Division, whose armored infantry battalions had relatively greater shortages than infantry division regiments. The platoons, barely trained as squads and platoons, had had no training as companies at all; the division felt that too little time was available to equip and train them before their first battle. 37 The 12th Armored Division, after its experience with the 827th Tank Destroyer Battalion a month before-it received notification to send officers to these platoons on the day that the 827th departed-"objected violently" to these platoons from the beginning. But when the reinforcements arrived they made a "good" impression.38 The 12th Armored Division's companies were known variously as Seventh Army Provisional Infantry Companies 1, 2, and 3, or as Company D in each of the armored infantry battalions to which they were attached.39 All of these companies were used as armored infantry in support of tanks or with tank support, but their organization varied. One was composed of four platoons, each organized into one machine gun and three rifle squads. The other two had three platoons, each with two 60-mm. mortars and several light machine guns. The companies attacked dismounted or mounted on tanks; all engaged in several actions. They were generally considered very satisfactory, improving as experience made up for their lack of training as companies and as machine gun and mortar crews.40 When 6th Army Group's four supplementary platoons arrived on 26 March, they were similarly assigned to the 14th Armored Division, which took them with it when it moved to Third Army on 23 April.41 In the 14th Armored Division, they were known as Seventh Army Provisional Infantry Company No. 4 or, since they were attached to the Combat Command Reserve, as CCR Rifle Company.42
When General Davis visited the 12th Armored Division on 1 9 April 1945, he found battalion and company commanders acutely conscious of the lack of company training in the Negro platoons. Even so, they felt that the units had done good work.43 Seventh Army Provisional Infantry Company No. 1, attached to the 56th Armored Infantry Battalion, had not been committed as a unit but detachments had been used. One of these, riding on a tank near Speyer, Germany, on 23 March 1945,

ran into heavy bazooka and small arms fire. Sgt. Edward A. Carter, Jr., voluntarily dismounted and attempted to lead a three-man group across an open field. Within a short time, two of his men were killed and the third was seriously wounded. Carter continued toward the enemy emplacement alone. He was wounded five times and was finally forced to take cover. When eight enemy riflemen attempted to capture him, Carter killed six of them and captured the remaining two. He then returned across the field, using his two prisoners as a shield, obtaining from them valuable information on the disposition of enemy troops.44
Similarly, the 240-man company attached to the 14th Armored Division, in combat from 5 April to 3 May 1945, failed to receive the same approving response from the division as the platoons attached to infantry regiments.45 The 14th Armored Division, moving south through Bavaria along the Bayreuth Nurnberg autobahn when everyone knew that the war was over, that is everyone "except the men who could hear the high-pitched, irritable whine of a sniper's bullet, the blast of a mortar shell,"46 met sporadic and spotty resistance, but resistance that was still strong enough to produce sharp, and sometimes prolonged, fire fights. The Combat Command Reserve rifle company was mainly employed in attachment to the 25th Tank Battalion. The company's first real engagement was at Lichtenfels, where two platoons crossed the Main and, after a bitter fight, took the town.47 But it was at Creussen, near Bayreuth that the Negro reinforcements got the accolade of approval from the men of the 14th Armored Division. The 94th Reconnaissance Squadron had entered Creussen, site of a weapons factory, on 15 April when enemy tanks and infantry all but surrounded the town. A call for reinforcements started two platoons of tanks from the 25th Tank Battalion and one of the Negro infantry platoons toward the town. At about 1145, near Gottsfeld, the tanks were fired on by antitank guns. Four were hit and two were destroyed. The remaining tanks pulled back. The Negro infantrymen dismounted, entered the town, and, while considerable enemy artillery fire fell, cleared Gottsfeld by 1500. Tanks then moved in and before dark knocked out five enemy Mark IV's which had come out into the open just east of the town. The tank-infantry force then continued to Creussen, already relieved of much pressure as a result of the action at Gottsfeld, and moved in from the west at 1700. For the next two days, platoons of Combat Command Reserve rifle company patrolled in and around Gottsfeld and Creussen, taking prisoners. One platoon of the 94th's D Troop, observing the Negro riflemen for the first time, commented in its journal: "And were those guys good! "48 In later fighting, when the company (less one platoon) was used as a unit, results were

less satisfactory. Poor control and discipline within the companies, especially after taking towns, was the principal fault that Seventh Army found with its Negro units.
When General Patch informed General Davis that the provisional companies were not trained to function as companies and were not performing too well as armored infantry, General Davis explained that they were never intended to be used as other than riflemen, and that, except for a week before assignment, they had had no group training. He described the use being made of them in First Army. He himself had noted that the men in the Seventh Army's companies, though they stated that they were getting along fine, lacked the enthusiasm and high morale of the Negro reinforcements in the First Army.
When General Davis' report of his visit reached General Devers, with an informal recommendation from General Lear that it should receive any action thought suitable, General Devers sent it on to General Patch with a note for his consideration to the effect that "a better solution would have been to use them as rifle platoons in an Infantry Division." Maj. Gen. Roderick Allen, commanding the 12th Armored Division, was scheduled to visit General Patch on 12 May to discuss the matter, but by then the war was over. General Patch informed his chief of staff on 11 May: "Nothing more need be done. Already Allen will be giving them Co. Tng."'49
Thus, among men similarly trained and similarly motivated, two forms of employment produced different results -at least in the eyes of higher headquarters if not in the eyes of the men and their immediate associates, who had no means of comparison. All the men were volunteers, and had identical training. But the men in the larger units, organized as companies with their own company administration, adding to the duties of riflemen in which they were trained those of machine gunners and mortar men in which they were not trained, operating as separate and provisional units obviously attached and not a part of the units with which they fought, lost a portion of their original enthusiasm and motivation in the process of commitment to battle. The smaller groups-operating as platoons and at times as squads-as parts of the companies to which they were attached, gained in their commitment. This was not achieved without skepticism on the part of both the Negro replacements and their associates within their companies. An officer who, as rifle platoon and company commander, led one of these platoons for nearly two months, explained that his platoon, advancing at mid-day through heavy woods, in its very first contact with the enemy
. . . discovered a German force digging in upon a hill-top. Without being discovered, it maneuvered into a position to deliver maximum fire from a distance of a scant 20 yards, and struck so powerfully and suddenly that the Germans were shot-up and dispersed before they could pick up their weapons-2 machine guns, 4 machine pistol "burp guns," several rifles and dozens of grenades.
A lucky break, we all agreed ....
But the soldiers of this platoon showed thereafter that this was not simply "a lucky break" since in "frequent instances

after that baptismal triumph" their fellow white soldiers saw them "prove their stuff at the cost of lives and blood by advancing doggedly under fire, by aggressive noncommissioned officer leadership in house-to-house fights and in the forbidding wilderness of No-Man's Land."50 As the men of this platoon took their places in their company, not a single incident of friction occurred between them and the white infantrymen who fought for the same towns, ate in the same chow line, sometimes gambled in the same clandestine games. The Negro troops of this platoon gradually came to be accepted not as unusual, or special, but as normal soldiers, neither better nor worse than usual. "The premise that no soldier," their commander decided, "will hold black skin against a man if he can shoot his rifle and does not run away proved to be substantially true. Most of the white men of the company soon became highly appreciative of the Negroes' help and warmly applauded their more colorful individual and combat exploits."51
One Negro platoon, when faced with heavy automatic weapons fire from outlying buildings in a town which another platoon was already supposed to have taken, made a hasty estimate of the situation and, realizing that its only safety was in the buildings from which its men were receiving fire, broke into a run with all weapons firing, raced three hundred yards under "a hail of enemy fire," took the buildings and, in a matter of minutes, the entire town. The battalion commander concluded:
I know I did not receive a superior representation of the colored race as the average AGCT was Class IV. I do know, however, that in courage, coolness, dependability and pride, they are on a par with any white troops I have ever had occasion to work with. In addition, they were, during combat, possessed with a fierce desire to meet with and kill the enemy, the equal of which I have never witnessed in white troops.
In a number of units whose praise of the willing efforts of the Negro volunteers during combat was high there arose an undercurrent of misgivings about retaining these troops within units once the war was over and battalions and regiments settled into occupation and garrison duties. But in this battalion two months of garrison life had brought no deterioration of relations between Negro and white soldiers:
To date, there has never appeared the slightest sign of race prejudice, or discrimination in this organization. White men and colored men are welded together with a deep friendship and respect born of combat and matured by a realization that such an association is not the impossibility that many of us have been led to believe. Segregation has never been attempted in this unit, and is, in my mind, the deciding factor as to the success or failure of the experiment. When men undergo the same privations, face the same dangers before an impartial enemy, there can be no segregation. My men eat, play, work, and sleep as a company of men, with no regard to color. An interesting sidelight is the fact that the company orientation NCO is colored, the pitcher on the softball team, composed of both races, is colored, and the bugler is colored.
The sole morale problem facing these troops two months after the conclusion of hostilities was the growing suspicion, now that a group of Negro troops had

been transferred to this unit from another division, that they too would "soon be removing their Division patch, and the thought of this impending separation has materially affected their morale and performance thereby."52
This was a morale problem to many of the Negro reinforcements, for as redeployment regulations went into effect, the Negro infantrymen, having fewer points than the white troops in their units, began to be transferred to other units, including a large group that went to a combat engineer battalion constructing redeployment camps. The suspicion arose that all would eventually be returned to service units. Actually a compromise was worked out by the European theater, which declared that it could not make exceptions to redeployment regulations. A thousand or more of the reinforcements with relatively higher points were sent to the 69th Infantry Division for redeployment to the United States and the remainder, except for some who, having been transferred already, could not be readily located, went to the 350th Field Artillery Battalion, a Negro unit of low redeployment status, thus preserving their combat status and at the same time remaining with the occupation forces in Europe. The compromise was not wholly satisfactory to the troops concerned, for most of them had hoped to remain with the units with which they had fought and with whose men they had got along well. Many had hoped that their service would be "the beginning of the end of differences and discriminations on account of race and color."53 As one of their commanders explained their and his dilemma: "These colored men cannot understand why they are not being allowed to share the honor of returning to their homeland with the Division with which they fought, proving to the world that Negro soldiers can do something besides drive a truck or work in a laundry. I am unqualified to give them a satisfactory answer."54
In the Negro infantry rifle platoons, the employment of Negro troops moved farthest from traditional Army patterns. Despite the multitude of problems with which the Army was faced in the use of Negro troops in World War II, at the war's end a greater variety of experience existed than had ever before been available within the American Military Establishment. For Negro troops had been used in larger numbers over a longer period of time than in any previous war. They had been used by more branches and in a greater variety of units, ranging from divisions to platoons in size and from fighter units to quartermaster service companies in the complexity of their duties. They had been used in a wider range of geographical, cultural, and climatic conditions than was believed possible in 1942. All of this was true of white troops as well, but in its manpower deliberations and in its attempts to wrest maximum efficiency and production from the manpower allotted it, the Army found that it was the

10 percent of American manpower which was Negro that spelled a large part of the difference between the full and wasteful employment of available American manpower of military age.
As World War II drew to a close the Army, as a part of its continuing inventory of its operations, turned fuller attention to the problems of Negro manpower. These had already received disproportionate administrative attention hardly justified by the results. The Army was now interested in the experience of the theaters, both to conclude the war in the Pacific and to plan for the postwar Army. Reports and more reports already existed, but the Army was now interested in the judgment of the theaters themselves. For whatever had occurred in the training and deployment phases, the crucial questions could be answered best by the experience of the theaters-the experience with Negro troops at the point of operational use. Before the war was over, stock-taking on the employment of Negro troops in World War II had already begun. Upon the basis of the direct experience of the war, the McCloy Committee began to look toward the establishment of a clearer postwar policy than there had ever been. Shortly after the war was over, on 4 October 1945" the War Department appointed a board of officers, headed by Lt. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr., to prepare a new and broad policy for the future employment of Negro troops. From the investigations and conclusions of this committee many of the changes in the employment of Negro troops after World War II would come. These deliberations and developments belong properly to a study of the postwar period, although the genesis
of the change may be found in the vastly varied experiences of the Army and the War Department in the employment of Negro troops in World War II.
Writing in the early summer of 1945, before the fighting with Japan ended, the Chief Historian of the Army, the late Dr. Walter L. Wright, Jr., provided a perceptive commentary on the Army's experience with the employment of Negro troops in segregated units during World War II: 55
With your general conclusion regarding the performance of Negro troops, I tend to agree: They cannot be expected to do as well in any Army function as white troops unless they have absolutely first-class leadership from their officers. Such leadership may be provided, in my opinion, either by white or by Negro officers, but white officers would have to be men who have some understanding of the attitude of mind which Negroes possess and some sympathy with them as human beings. What troubles me is that anybody of real intelligence should be astonished to discover that Negro troops require especially good leadership if their performance is to match that of white troops. This same state of affairs exists, I think, with any group of men who belong to a subject nationality or national minority consisting of under-privileged individuals from depressed social strata .... American Negro troops are, as you know, ill-educated on the average and often illiterate; they lack self-respect, self-confidence, and initiative; they tend to be very conscious of their low standing in the eyes of the white population and consequently feel very little motive for aggressive fighting. In fact, their survival as individuals and as a people has often depended on their ability to subdue completely even the appearance of aggressiveness. After all, when a man knows that the color of his skin will automatically disqualify him for reaping the fruits of attainment it is no wonder that he sees

little point in trying very hard to excel anybody else. To me, the most extraordinary thing is that such people continue trying at all.
The conclusion which I reach is obvious: We cannot expect to make first-class soldiers out of second or third or fourth class citizens. The man who is lowest down in civilian life is practically certain to be lowest down as a soldier. Accordingly, we must expect depressed minorities to perform much less effectively than the average of other groups in the population .... So far as the war in progress is concerned, the War Department must deal with an existing state of affairs and its employment of Negroes must parallel the employment of the same group in civilian American society. Yet, it is important to remember that the civilian status of Negroes in this country is changing with a rapidity which I believe to be unique in history; the level of literacy is rising steadily and 
quickly and privileges other than educational are being gained every year ....
As to the segregation of Negroes to special units in the Army, this is simply a reflection of a state of affairs well-known in civilian America today. Yet, civilian practice in this connection differs very widely from Massachusetts to Mississippi. Since the less favorable treatment characteristic of southern states is less likely to lead to violent protest from powerful white groups, the Army has tended to follow southern rather than northern practices in dealing with the problem of segregation. Also, it is most unfortunate for the Negroes that considerations of year round climate led to the placing of most of the training camps in the southern states where conditions in the nearby towns were none too acceptable to northern white men and the unfamiliar Jim Crowism was exceedingly unacceptable to northern Negroes. My ultimate hope is that in the long run it will be possible to assign individual Negro soldiers and officers to any unit in the Army where they are qualified as individuals to serve efficiently.
Within a decade, this hope was to be realized.


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