Black leaders concentrated on the services because they were public institutions, their officials sworn to uphold the Constitution. The leaders understood, too, that disciplinary powers peculiar to the services enabled them to make changes that might not be possible for other organizations; the armed forces could command where others could only persuade. The Army bore the brunt of this attention, but not because its policies were so benighted. In 1941 the Army was a fairly progressive organization, and few institutions in America could match its record. Rather, the civil rights leaders concentrated on the Army because the draft law had made it the nation's largest employer of minority groups.
For its part, the Army resisted the demands, its spokesmen contending that the service's enormous size and power should not be used for social experiment, especially during a war. Further justifying their position, Army officials pointed out that their service had to avoid conflict with prevailing social attitudes, particularly when such attitudes were jealously guarded by Congress. In this period of continuous demand and response, the Army developed a racial policy that remained in effect throughout the war with only superficial modifications sporadically adopted to meet changing conditions.
The experience of World War I cast a shadow over the formation of the Army's racial policy in World War II.1 The chief architects of the new policy, and many of its opponents, were veterans of the first war and reflected in their judgments the passions and prejudices of that era.2 Civil rights activists were determined to eliminate the segregationist practices of the 1917 mobilization and to win a fair representation for Negroes in the Army. The traditionalists of the Army staff, on the other hand, were determined to resist any radical change in policy. Basing their arguments on their evaluation of the performance of the 92d Division and some other black units in World War I, they had made, but not publicized, mobilization plans that recognized the Army's obligation to employ black soldiers yet rigidly maintained the segregationist policy of World War I.3 These plans increased the number of types of black units to be formed and even provided for a wide distribution of the units among all the arms and services except the Army Air Forces and Signal Corps, but they did not explain how the skilled Negro, whose numbers had greatly increased since World War I, could be efficiently used within the limitations of black units. In the name of military efficiency the Army staff had, in effect, devised a social rather than a military policy for the employment of black troops.
The White House tried to adjust the conflicting demands of the civil rights leaders and the Army traditionalists. Eager to placate and willing to compromise, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought an accommodation by directing the War Department to provide jobs for Negroes in all parts of the Army. The controversy over integration soon became more public, the opponents less reconcilable; in the weeks following the President's meeting with black representatives on 27 September 1940 the Army countered black demands for integration with a statement released by the White House on 9 October. To provide "a fair and equitable basis" for the use of Negroes in its expansion program, the Army planned to accept Negroes in numbers approximate to their proportion in the national population, about 10 percent. Black officers and enlisted men were to serve, as was then customary, only in black units that were to be formed in each major branch, both combatant and noncombatant, including air units to be created as soon as pilots, mechanics, and technical specialists were trained. There would be no racial intermingling in regimental organizations because the practice of separating white and black troops had, the Army staff said, proved satisfactory over a long period of time. To change would destroy morale and impair preparations for national defense. Since black units in the Army were already "going concerns, accustomed through many years to the present system" of segregation, "no experiments should be tried . . . at this critical time."4
The President's "OK, F.D.R." on the War Department statement transformed what had been a routine prewar mobilization plan into a racial policy that would remain in effect throughout the war. In fact, quickly elevated in importance by War Department spokesmen who made constant reference to the "Presidential Directive," the statement would be used by some Army officials as a presidential sanction for introducing segregation in new situations, as, for example, in the pilot training of black officers in the Army Air Corps. Just as quickly, the civil rights leaders, who had expected more from the tone of the President's own comments and more also from the egalitarian implications of the new draft law, bitterly attacked the Army's policy.
Black criticism came at an awkward moment for President Roosevelt, who was entering a heated campaign for an unprecedented third term and whose New Deal coalition included the urban black vote. His opponent, the articulate Wendell L. Willkie, was an unabashed champion of civil rights and was reportedly attracting a wide following among black voters. In the weeks preceding the election the President tried to soften the effect of the Army's announcement. He promoted Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., to brigadier general, thereby making Davis the first Negro to hold this rank in the Regular Army. He appointed the commander of reserve officers' training at Howard University, Col. Campbell C. Johnson, Special Aide to the Director of Selective Service. And, finally, he named Judge William H. Hastie, dean of the Howard University Law School, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of War.
A successful lawyer, Judge Hastie entered upon his new assignment with several handicaps. Because of his long association with black causes, some civil rights organizations assumed that Hastie would be their man in Washington and regarded his duties as an extension of their crusade against discrimination. Hastie's War Department superiors, on the other hand, assumed that his was a public relations job and expected him to handle all complaints and mobilization problems as had his World War I predecessor, Emmett J. Scott. Both assumptions proved false. Hastie was evidently determined to break the racial logjam in the War Department, yet unlike many civil rights advocates he seemed willing to pay the price of slow progress to obtain lasting improvement. According to those who knew him, Hastie was confident that he could demonstrate to War Department officials that the Army's racial policies were both inefficient and unpatriotic. 5
Judge Hastie spent his first ten months in office observing what was happening to the Negro in the Army. He did not like what he saw. To him, separating black soldiers from white soldiers was a fundamental error. First, the effect on black morale was devastating. "Beneath the surface," he wrote, "is widespread discontent. Most white persons are unable to appreciate the rancor and bitterness which the Negro, as a matter of self-preservation, has learned to hide beneath a smile, a joke, or merely an impassive face." The inherent paradox of trying to inculcate pride, dignity, and aggressiveness in a black soldier while inflicting on him the segregationist's concept of the Negro's place in society created In him an insupportable tension. Second, segregation wasted black manpower, a valuable military asset. It was impossible, Hastie charged, to employ skilled Negroes at maximum efficiency rhythm the traditionally narrow limitations of black units. Third, to insist on an inflexible separation of white and black soldiers was "the most dramatic evidence of hypocrisy" in America's professed concern for preserving democracy.
JUDGE HASTIE [Photgraph not included.]
Although he appreciated the impossibility of making drastic changes overnight, Judge Hastie was disturbed because he found "no apparent disposition to make a beginning or a trial of any different plan." He looked for some form of progressive integration classified and assigned, not by race, by which qualified Negroes could be but as individuals, according to their capacities and abilities.6
Judge Hastie gained little support from the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, or the Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, when he called for progressive integration. Both considered the Army's segregated units to be in accord with prevailing public sentiment against mixing the races in the intimate association of military life. More to the point, both Stimson and Marshall were sensitive to military tradition, and segregated units had been a part of the Army since 1863. Stimson embraced segregation readily. While conveying to the President that he was "sensitive to the individual tragedy which went with it to the colored man himself," he nevertheless urged Roosevelt not to place "too much responsibility on a race which was not showing initiative in battle."7 Stimson's attitude was not unusual for the times. He professed to believe in civil rights for every citizen, but he opposed social integration. He never tried to reconcile these seemingly inconsistent views; in fact, he probably did not consider them inconsistent. Stimson blamed what he termed Eleanor Roosevelt's "intrusive and impulsive folly" for some of the criticism visited upon the Army's racial policy, just as he inveighed against the "foolish leaders of the colored race" who were seeking "at bottom social equality," which, he concluded was out of the question "because of the impossibility of race mixture by marriage."8 Influenced by Under Secretary Robert P. Patterson, Assistant Secretary John J. McCloy, and Truman K. Gibson, Jr., who was Judge Hastie's successor, but most of all impressed by the performance of black soldiers themselves, Stimson belatedly modified his defense of segregation. But throughout the war he adhered to the traditional arguments of the Army's professional staff.
GENERAL MARSHALL AND SECRETARY STIMSON [Photograph not included.]
General Marshall was a powerful advocate of the views of the Army staff.
He lived up to the letter of the Army's regulations, consistently supporting
measures to eliminate overt discrimination in the wartime Army. At the
same time, he rejected the idea that the Army should take the lead in altering
the racial mores of the nation. Asked for his views on Hastie's "carefully
prepared memo,"9 General Marshall admitted
that many of the recommendations were sound but said that Judge Hastie's
would be tantamount to solving a social problem which has perplexed the American people throughout the history of this nation. The Army cannot accomplish such a solution and should not be charged with the undertaking. The settlement of vexing racial problems cannot be permitted to complicate the tremendous task of the War Department and thereby jeopardize discipline and morale. 10
As Chief of Staff, Marshall faced the tremendous task of creating in haste a large Army to deal with the Axis menace. Since for several practical reasons the bulk of that Army would be trained in the south where its conscripts would be subject to southern laws, Marshall saw no alternative but to postpone reform. The War Department, he said, could not ignore the social relationship between blacks and whites, established by custom and habit. Nor could it ignore the fact that the "level of intelligence and occupational skill" of the black population was considerably below that of whites. Though he agreed that the Army would reach maximum strength only if individuals were placed according to their abilities, he concluded that experiments to solve social problems would be "fraught with danger to efficiency, discipline, and morale." In sum, Marshall saw no reason to change the policy approved by the President less than a year before. 11
The Army's leaders and the secretary's civilian aide had reached an impasse on the question of policy even before the country entered the war. And though the use of black troops in World War I was not entirely satisfactory even to its defenders, 12 there appeared to be no time now, in view of the larger urgency of winning the war, to plan other approaches, try other solutions, or tamper with an institution that had won victory in the past. Further ordering the thoughts of some senior Army officials was their conviction that wide-scale mixing of the races in the services might, as Under Secretary Patterson phrased it, foment social revolution.l3
These opinions were clearly evident on 8 December 1941, the day the
United States entered World War II, when the Army's leaders met with a
group of black publishers and editors. Although General Marshall admitted
that he was not satisfied with the department's progress in racial matters
and promised further changes, the conference concluded with a speech by
a representative of The Adjutant General who delivered what many considered
the final word on integration during the war.
The Army is made up of individual citizens of the United States who have pronounced views with respect to the Negro just as they have individual ideas with respect to other matters in their daily walk of life. Military orders, fiat, or dicta, will not change their viewpoints. The Army then cannot be made the means of engendering conflict among the mass of people because of a stand with respect to Negroes which is not compatible with the position attained by the Negro in civil life .... The Army is not a sociological laboratory; to be effective it must be organized and trained according to the principles which will insure success. Experiments to meet the wishes and demands of the champions of every race and creed for the solution of their problems are a danger to efficiency, discipline and morale and would result in ultimate defeat. 14
The civil rights advocates refused to concede that the discussion was over. Judge Hastie, along with a sizable segment of the black press, believed that the beginning of a world war was the time to improve military effectiveness by increasing black participation in that war.15 They argued that eliminating segregation was part of the struggle to preserve democracy, the transcendent issue of the war, and they viewed the unvarying pattern of separate black units as consonant with the racial theories of Nazi Germany.16 Their continuing efforts to eliminate segregation and discrimination eventually brought Hastie a sharp reminder from John J. McCloy. "Frankly, I do not think that the basic issues of this war are involved in the question of whether colored troops serve in segregated units or in mixed units and I doubt whether you can convince people of the United States that the basic issues of freedom are involved in such a question." For Negroes, he warned sternly, the basic issue was that if the United States lost the war, the lot of the black community would be far worse off, and some Negroes "do not seem to be vitally concerned about winning the war." What all Negroes ought to do, he counseled, was to give unstinting support to the war effort in anticipation of benefits certain to come after victory. 17
Thus very early in World War II, even before the United States was actively engaged, the issues surrounding the use of Negroes in the Army were well defined and the lines sharply drawn. Was segregation, a practice in conflict with the democratic aims of the country, also a wasteful use of manpower? How would modifications of policy come—through external pressure or internal reform? Could traditional organizational and social patterns in the military services be changed during a war without disrupting combat readiness?
In the years before World War II, Army planners never had to consider segregation in terms of manpower efficiency. Conditioned by the experiences of World War I, when the nation had enjoyed a surplus of untapped manpower even at the height of the war, and aware of the overwhelming manpower surplus of the depression years, the staff formulated its mobilization plans with little regard for the economical use of the nation's black manpower. Its decision to use Negroes in proportion to their percentage of the population was the result of political pressures rather than military necessity. Black combat units were considered a luxury that existed to indulge black demands. When the Army began to mobilize in 1940 it proceeded to honor its pledge, and one year after Pearl Harbor there were 399,454 Negroes in the Army, 7.4 percent of the total and 7.95 percent of all enlisted troops.l8
The effect of segregation on manpower efficiency became apparent only as the Army tried to translate policy into practice. In the face of rising black protest and with direct orders from the White House, the Army had announced that Negroes would be assigned to all arms and branches in the same ratio as whites. Several forces, however, worked against this equitable distribution. During the early months of mobilization the chiefs of those arms and services that had traditionally been all white accepted less than their share of black recruits and thus obliged some organizations, the Quartermaster Corps and the Engineer Corps in particular, to absorb a large percentage of black inductees. The imbalance worsened in 1941. In December of that year Negroes accounted for 5 percent of the Infantry and less than 2 percent each of the Air Corps, Medical Corps, and Signal Corps. The Quartermaster Corps was 15 percent black, the Engineer Corps 25 percent, and unassigned and miscellaneous detachments were 27 percent black.
The rejection of black units could not always be ascribed to racism alone. With some justification the arms and services tried to restrict the number and distribution of Negroes because black units measured far below their white counterparts in educational achievement and ability to absorb training, according to the Army General Classification Test (AGCT). The Army had introduced this test system in March 1941 as its principal instrument for the measurement of a soldier's learning ability. Five categories, with the most gifted in category I, were used in classifying the scores made by the soldiers taking the test (Table 1). The Army planned to take officers and enlisted specialists from the top three categories and the semiskilled soldiers and laborers from the two lowest.
Although there was considerable confusion on the subject, basically the Army's mental tests measured educational achievement rather than native intelligence, and in 1941 educational achievement in the United States hinged more on geography and economics than color. Though black and white recruits of comparable educations made comparable scores, the majority of Negroes came from areas of the country where inferior schools combined with economic and cultural poverty to put them at a significant disadvantage. 19 Many whites
TABLE 1—CLASSIFICATION OF ALL MEN TESTED FROM MARCH
1941 THROUGH DECEMBER 1942
suffered similar disadvantages, and in absolute numbers more whites than blacks appeared in the lower categories. But whereas the Army could distribute the low-scoring white soldiers throughout the service so that an individual unit could easily absorb its few illiterate and semiliterate white men, the Army was obliged to assign an almost equal number of low-scoring Negroes to the relatively few black units where they could neither be absorbed nor easily trained. By the same token, segregation penalized the educated Negro whose talents were likely to be wasted when he was assigned to service units along with the unskilled.
Segregation further hindered the efficient use of black manpower by complicating the training of black soldiers. Although training facilities were at a premium, the Army was forced to provide its training and replacement centers with separate housing and other facilities. With an extremely limited number of Regular Army Negroes to draw from, the service had to create cadres for the new units and find officers to lead them. Black recruits destined for most arms and services were assured neither units, billets, nor training cadres. The Army's solution to the problem: lower the quotas for black inductees.
The use of quotas to regulate inductees by race was itself a source of tension between the Army and the Bureau of Selective Service.20 Selective Service questioned the legality of the whole procedure whereby white and black selectees were delivered on the basis of separate calls; in many areas of the country draft boards were under attack for passing over large numbers of Negroes in order to fill these racial quotas. With the Navy depending exclusively on volunteers Selective Service had by early 1943 a backlog of 300,000 black registrants who according to their order numbers, should have been called to service but had been passed over. Selective Service wanted to eliminate the quota system altogether. At the very least it demanded that the Army accept more Negroes to adjust the racial imbalance of the draft rolls. The Army, determined to preserve the quota system, tried to satisfy the Selective Service's minimum demands, making room for more black inductees by forcing its arms and services to create more black units. Again the cost to efficiency was high.
ENGINEER CONSTRUCTION TROOPS IN LIBERIA, JULY 1942 [Photograph
Under the pressure of providing sufficient units for Negroes,
the organization of units for the sake of guaranteeing vacancies became
a major goal. In some cases, careful examination of the usefulness of the
types of units provided was subordinated to the need to create units which
could receive Negroes. As a result, several types of units with limited
military value were formed in some branches for the specific purpose of
absorbing otherwise unwanted Negroes. Conversely, certain types of units
with legitimate and important military functions were filled with Negroes
who could not function efficiently in the tasks to which they were assigned.21
LABOR BATTALION TROOPS IN THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, MAY 1943. Stevedores pause for a hot meal at Massacre Bay. [Photograph not included.]
The practice of creating units for the specific purpose of absorbing Negroes was particularly evident in the Army Air Forces.22 Long considered the most recalcitrant of branches in accepting Negroes, the Air Corps had successfully exempted itself from the allotment of black troops in the 1940 mobilization plans. Black pilots could not be used, Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, Chief of the Air Corps, explained, "since this would result in having Negro officers serving over white enlisted men. This would create an impossible social problem."23 And this situation could not be avoided, since it would take several years to train black mechanics; meanwhile black pilots would have to work with white ground crews, often at distant bases outside their regular chain of command. The Air Corps faced strong opposition when both the civil rights advocates and the rest of the Army attacked this exclusion. The civil rights organizations wanted a place for Negroes in the glamorous Air Corps, but even more to the point the other arms and services wanted this large branch of the Army to absorb its fair share of black recruits, thus relieving the rest of a disproportionate burden.
SERGEANT DRESSING THE LINE. Aviation squadron standing inspection, 1943. [Photograph not included.]
When the War Department supported these demands the Army Air Forces capitulated. Its 1941 mobilization plans provided for the formation of nine separate black aviation squadrons which would perform the miscellaneous tasks associated with the upkeep of airfields. During the next year the Chief of Staff set the allotment of black recruits for the air arm at a rate that brought over 77,500 Negroes into the Air Corps by 1943. On 16 January 1941 Under Secretary Patterson announced the formation of a black pursuit squadron, but the Army Air Forces, bowing to the opposition typified by General Arnold's comments of the previous year, trained the black pilots in separate facilities at Tuskegee, Alabama, where the Army tried to duplicate the expensive training center established for white officers at Maxwell Field, just forty miles away.24 Black pilots were at first trained exclusively for pursuit flying, a very difficult kind of combat for which a Negro had to qualify both physically and technically or else, in Judge Hastie's words, "not fly at all."25 The 99th Fighter Squadron was organized at Tuskegee in 1941 and sent to the Mediterranean theater in April 1943. By then the all-black 332d Fighter Group with three additional fighter squadrons had been organized, and in 1944 it too was deployed to the Mediterranean.
PILOTS OF THE 332D FIGHTER GROUP BEING BRIEFED for combat mission in Italy. [Photograph not included.]
These squadrons could use only a limited number of pilots, far fewer than those black cadets qualified for such training. All applicants in excess of requirements were placed on an indefinite waiting list where many became overage or were requisitioned for other military and civilian duties. Yet when the Army Air Forces finally decided to organize a black bomber unit, the 477th Bombardment Group, in late 1943, it encountered a scarcity of black pilots and crewmen. Because of the lack of technical and educational opportunities for Negroes in America, fewer blacks than whites were included in the manpower pool, and Tuskegee, already overburdened with its manifold training functions and lacking the means to train bomber crews, was unable to fill the training gap. Sending black cadets to white training schools was one obvious solution the Army Air Forces chose instead to postpone the operational date of the 477th until its pilots could be trained at Tuskegee. In the end, the 477th was not declared operational until after the war. Even then some compromise with the Army Air Forces' segregation principles was necessary, since Tuskegee could not accommodate B-25 pilot transition and navigator-bombardier training. In 1944 black officers were therefore temporarily assigned to formerly all-white schools for such training. Tuskegee's position as the sole and separate training center for black pilots remained inviolate until its closing in 1946, however, and its graduates, the "Tuskegee Airmen," continued to serve as a powerful symbol of armed forces segregation.26
Training for black officer candidates other than flyers, like that of most officer candidates throughout the Army, was integrated. At first the possibility of integrated training seemed unlikely, for even though Assistant Secretary of War for Air Robert A. Lovett had assured Hastie that officer candidate training would be integrated, the Technical Training Command announced plans in 1942 for a segregated facility. Although the plans were quickly canceled the command's announcement was the immediate cause for Hastie's resignation from the War Department. The Air staff assured the Assistant Secretary of War in January of 1943 that qualified Negroes were being sent to officer candidate schools and to training courses "throughout the school system of the Technical Training Command."27 In fact, Negroes did attend the Air Forces' officer candidate school at Miami Beach, although not in great numbers. In spite of their integrated training, however, most of these black officers were assigned to the predominantly black units at Tuskegee and Godman fields.
The Army Air Forces found it easier to absorb the thousands of black enlisted men than to handle the black flying squadrons. For the enlisted men it created a series of units with vaguely defined duties, usually common labor jobs operating for the most part under a bulk allotment system that allowed the Air Forces to absorb great numbers of new men. Through 1943 hundreds of these aviation training squadrons, quartermaster truck companies, and engineer aviation and air base security battalions were added to the Air Forces' organization tables. Practically every American air base in the world had its contingent of black troops performing the service duties connected with air operations.
The Air Corps, like the Armor and the Artillery branches, was able to form separate squadrons or battalions for black troops, but the Infantry and Cavalry found it difficult to organize the growing number of separate black battalions and regiments. The creation of black divisions was the obvious solution, although this arrangement would run counter to current practice, which was based in part on the Army's experience with the 92d Division in World War I. Convinced of the poor performance of that unit in 1918, the War Department had decided in the 1920's not to form any more black divisions. The regiment would serve as the basic black unit, and from time to time these regiments would be employed as organic elements of divisions whose other regiments and units would be white. In keeping with this decision, the black 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments were combined in October 1940 with white regiments to form the 2d Cavalry Division.
Before World War II most black leaders had agreed with the Army's opposition to all-black divisions, but for different reasons. They considered that such divisions only served to strengthen the segregation pattern they so opposed. In the early weeks of the war a conference of black editors, including Walter White, pressed for the creation of an experimental integrated division of volunteers. White argued that such a unit would lift black morale, "have a tremendous psychological effect upon white America," and refute the enemy's charge that "the United States talks about democracy but practices racial discrimination and segregation."28 The NAACP organized a popular movement in support of the idea, which was endorsed by many important individuals and organizations.29 Yet this experiment was unacceptable to the Army. Ignoring its experience with all-volunteer paratroopers and other special units, the War Department declared that the volunteer system was "an ineffective and dangerous" method of raising combat units. Admitting that the integrated division might be an encouraging gesture toward certain minorities, General Marshall added that "the urgency of the present military situation necessitates our using tested and proved methods of procedure, and using them with all haste. " 30
Even though it rejected the idea of a volunteer, integrated division, the Army staff reviewed in the fall of 1942 a proposal for the assignment of some black recruits to white units. The Organization-Mobilization Group of G-3, headed by Col. Edwin W. Chamberlain, argued that the Army General Classification Test scores proved that black soldiers in groups were less useful to the Army than white soldiers in groups. It was a waste of manpower, funds, and equipment, therefore, to organize the increasingly large numbers of black recruits into segregated units. Not only was such organization wasteful, but segregation "aggravated if not caused in its entirety" the racial friction that was already plaguing the Army. To avoid both the waste and the strife, Chamberlain recommended that the Army halt the activation of additional black units and integrate black recruits in the low-score categories, IV and V, into white units in the ratio of one black to nine whites. The black recruits would be used as cooks, orderlies, and drivers, and in other jobs which required only the minimum basic training and which made up 10 to 20 percent of those in the average unit. Negroes in the higher categories, I through III, would be assigned to existing black units where they could be expected to improve the performance of those units. Chamberlain defended his plan against possible charges of discrimination by pointing out that the Negroes would be assigned wholly on the basis of native capacity, not race, and that this plan would increase the opportunities for Negroes to participate in the war effort. To those who objected on the grounds that the proposal meant racial integration, Chamberlain replied that there was no more integration involved than in "the employment of Negroes as servants in a white household."31
The Chamberlain Plan and a variant proposed the following spring prompted discussion in the Army staff that clearly revealed general dissatisfaction with the current policy. Nonetheless, in the face of opposition from the service and ground forces, the plan was abandoned. Yet because something had to be done with the mounting numbers of black draftees, the Army staff reversed the decision made in its prewar mobilization plans and turned once more to the concept of the all-black division. The 93d Infantry Division was reactivated in the spring of 1942 and the 92d the following fall. The 2d Cavalry Division was reconstituted as an all-black unit and reactivated in February 1943. These units were capable of absorbing 15,000 or more men each and could use men trained in the skills of practically every arm and service.
This absorbency potential became increasingly important in 1943 when the chairman of the War Manpower Commission, Paul V. McNutt, began to attack the use of racial quotas in selecting inductees. He considered the practice of questionable legality, and the commission faced mounting public criticism as white husbands and fathers were drafted while single healthy Negroes were not called.32 Secretary Stimson defended the legality of the quota system. He did not consider the current practice "discriminatory in any way" so long as the Army accepted its fair percentage of Negroes. He pointed out that the Selective Service Act provided that no man would be inducted "unless and until" he was acceptable to the services, and Negroes were acceptable "only at a rate at which they can be properly assimilated."33 Stimson later elaborated on this theme arguing that the quota system would be necessary even after the Army reached full strength because inductions would be limited to replacement of losses. Since there were few Negroes in combat, their losses would be considerably less than those of whites. McNutt disagreed with Stimson's interpretation of the law and announced plans to abandon it as soon as the current backlog of uninducted Negroes was absorbed, a date later set for January 1944.34
A crisis over the quota system was averted when, beginning in the spring of 1943, the Army's monthly manpower demands outran the ability of the Bureau of Selective Service to provide black inductees. So long as the Army requested more Negroes than the bureau could supply, little danger existed that McNutt would carry out his threat.35 But it was no victory for the Army. The question of the quota's legality remained unanswered, and it appeared that the Army might be forced to abandon the system at some future time when there was a black surplus.
There were many reasons for the sudden shortage of black inductees in the spring of 1943. Since more Negroes were leaving the service for health or other reasons, the number of calls for black draftees had increased. In addition, local draft boards were rejecting more Negroes. But the basic reason for the shortage was that the magnitude of the war had finally turned the manpower surpluses of the 1930's into manpower shortages, and the shortages were appearing in black as well as white levies for the armed forces. The Negro was no longer a manpower luxury. The quota calls for Negroes rose in 1944, and black strength stood at 701,678 men in September, approximately 9.6 percent of the whole Army.36 The percentage of black women in the Army stayed at less than 6 percent of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps-after July 1943 the Women's Army Corps-throughout the war. Training and serving under the same racial policy that governed the employment of men, the women's corps also had a black recruitment goal of 10 percent, but despite the active efforts of recruiters and generally favorable publicity from civil rights groups, the volunteer organization was unable to overcome the attitude among young black women that they would not be well received at Army posts.37
Faced with manpower shortages, the Army began to reassess its plan to distribute Negroes proportionately throughout the arms and services. The demand for new service units had soared as the size of the overseas armies grew while black combat units, unwanted by overseas commanders, had remained stationed in the United States. The War Department hoped to ease the strain on manpower resources by converting black combat troops into service troops. A notable example of the wholesale conversion of such combat troops and one that received considerable notice in the press was the inactivation of the 2d Cavalry Division upon its arrival in North Africa in March 1944. Victims of the change included the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments, historic combat units that had fought with distinction in the Indian wars, with Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba, and in the Philippine Insurrection. 38
By trying to justify the conversion, Secretary Stimson only aggravated the controversy. In the face of congressional questions and criticism in the black press, Stimson declared that the decision stemmed from a study of the relative abilities and status of training of the troops in the units available for conversion. If black units were particularly affected, it was because "many of the Negro units have been unable to master efficiently the techniques of modern weapons."39 Thus, by the end of 1944, the Army had abandoned its attempt to maintain a balance between black combat and service units, and during the rest of the war most Negroes were assigned to service units.
According to the War Department, the relationship between Negroes and
the Army was a mutual obligation. Negroes had the right and duty to serve
their country to the best of their abilities; the Army had the right and
the duty to see that they did so. True, the use of black troops was made
difficult because their schooling had been largely inferior and their work
therefore chiefly unskilled. Nevertheless, the Army staff concluded, all
races were equally endowed for war and most of the less mentally alert
could fight if properly led.40 A manual on
War Department concern with the Negro is focused directly and solely on the problem of the most effective use of colored troops .... the Army has no authority or intention to participate in social reform as such but does view the problem as a matter of efficient troop utilization. With an imposed ceiling on the maximum strength of the Army it is the responsibility of all officers to assure the most efficient use of the manpower assigned.41
But the best efforts of good officers could not avail against poor policy. Although the Army maintained that Negroes had to bear a proportionate of the casualties, by policy it assigned the majority to noncombat units and thus withheld the chance for them to assume an equal risk. Subscribing to the advantage of making full use of individual abilities, the Army nevertheless continued to consider Negroes as a group and to insist that military efficiency required racially segregated units. Segregation in turn burdened the senice with the costly provision of separate facilities for the races. Although a large number of Negroes served in World War II, their employment was limited in opportunity and expensive for the service.
If segregation weakened the Army's organization for global war, it had even more serious effects on every tenth soldier, for as it deepened the Negro's sense of inferiority it devastated his morale. It was a major cause of the poor performance and the disciplinary problems that plagued so many black units. And it made black soldiers blame their personal difficulties and misfortunes, many the common lot of any soldier, on racial discrimination.42
Deteriorating morale in black units and pressure from a critical audience of articulate Negroes and their sympathizers led the War Department to focus special attention on its race problem. Early in the war Secretary Stimson had agreed with a General Staff recommendation that a permanent committee be formed to evaluate racial incidents, propose special reforms, and answer questions involving the training and assignment of Negroes.43 On 27 August 1942 he established the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies, with Assistant Secretary McCloy as chairman.44 Caught in the cross fire of black demands and Army traditions, the committee contented itself at first with collecting information on the racial situation and acting as a clearinghouse for recommendations on the employment of black troops.45
SERVICE CLUB, FORT HUACHUCA [Photograph not included.]
Serious racial trouble was developing by the end of the first year of
the war. The trouble was a product of many factors, including the psychological
effects of segregation which may not have been so obvious to the committee
or even to the black soldier. Other factors, however, were visible to all
and begged for remedial action. For example, the practice of using racially
separated facilities on military posts, which was not sanctioned in the
Army's basic plan for black troops, took hold early in the war. Many black
units were located at camps in the south, where commanders insisted on
applying local laws and customs inside the
military reservations. This practice spread rapidly, and soon in widely separated sections of the country commanders were separating the races in theaters, post exchanges, service clubs, and buses operating on posts. The accommodations provided Negroes were separate but rarely equal, and substandard recreational and housing facilities assigned to black troops were a constant source of irritation. In fact the Army, through the actions of local commanders, actually introduced Jim Crow in some places at home and abroad. Negroes considered such practices in violation of military regulations and inconsistent with the announced principles for which the United States was fighting. Many believed themselves the victims of the personal prejudices of the local commander. Judge Hastie reported their feelings: "The traditional mores of the South have been widely accepted and adopted by the Army as the basis of policy and practice affecting the Negro soldier .... In tactical organization, in physical location, in human contacts, the Negro soldier is separated from the white soldier as completely as possible."46
In November 1941 another controversy erupted over the discovery, that the Red Cross had established racially segregated blood banks. The Red Cross readily admitted that it had no scientific justification for the racial separation of blood and blamed the armed services for the decision. Despite the evidence of science and at risk of demoralizing the black community, the Army's Surgeon General defended the controversial practice as necessary to insure the acceptance of a potentially unpopular program. Ignoring constant criticism from the NAACP and elements of the black press, the armed forces continued to demand segregated blood banks throughout the war. Negroes appreciated the irony of the situation, for they were well aware that a black doctor, Charles R. Drew, had been a pioneer researcher in the plasma extraction process and had directed the first Red Cross blood bank.47
Black morale suffered further in the leadership crisis that developed in black units early in the war. The logic of segregated units demanded a black officer corps, but there were never enough black officers to command all the black units. In 1942 only 0.35 percent of the Negroes in the Army were officers, a shortcoming that could not be explained by poor education alone.48 But when the number of black officers did begin to increase, obstacles to their employment appeared: some white commanders, assuming that Negroes did not possess leadership ability and that black troops preferred white officers, demanded white officers for their units. Limited segregated recreational and living facilities for black officers prevented their assignment to some bases, while the active opposition of civilian communities forced the Army to exclude them from others. The Army staff practice of forbidding Negroes to outrank or command white officers serving in the same unit not only limited the employment and restricted the rank of black officers but also created invidious distinctions between white and black officers in the same unit. It tended to convince enlisted men that their black leaders were not full-fledged officers. Thus restricted in assignment and segregated socially and professionally, his ability and status in question, the black officer was often an object of scorn to himself and to his men.
The attitude and caliber of white officers assigned to black units hardly compensated for the lack of black officers. In general, white officers resented their assignment to black units and were quick to seek transfer. Worse still, black units, where sensitive and patient leaders were needed to create an effective military force, often became, as they had in earlier wars, dumping grounds for officers unwanted in white units.49 The Army staff further aggravated black sensibilities by showing a preference for officers of southern birth and training, believing them to be generally more competent to exercise command over Negroes. In reality many Negroes, especially those from the urban centers, particularly resented southern officers. At best these officers appeared paternalistic, and Negroes disliked being treated as a separate and distinct group that needed special handling and protection. As General Davis later circumspectly reported, "many colored people of today expect only a certain line of treatment from white officers born and reared in the South, namely, that which follows the southern pattern, which is most distasteful to them."50
Some of these humiliations might have been less demeaning had the black soldier been convinced that he was a full partner in the crusade against fascism. As news of the conversion of black units from combat to service duties and the word that no new black combat units were being organized became a matter of public knowledge, the black press asked: Will any black combat units be left? Will any of those left be allowed to fight? In fact, would black units ever get overseas?
Actually, the Army had a clear-cut plan for the overseas employment of both black service and combat units. In May 1942 the War Department directed the Army Air Forces, Ground Forces, and Service Forces to make sure that black troops were ordered overseas in numbers not less than their percentage in each of these commands. Theater commanders would be informed of orders moving black troops to their commands, but they would not be asked to agree to their shipment beforehand. Since troop shipments to the British Isles were the chief concern at that time, the order added that "there will be no positive restrictions on the use of colored troops in the British Isles, but shipment of colored units to the British Isles will be limited, initially, to those in the service categories."51
The problem here was not the Army's policy but the fact that certain foreign governments and even some commanders in American territories wanted to exclude Negroes. Some countries objected to black soldiers because they feared race riots and miscegenation. Others with large black populations of their own felt that black soldiers with their higher rates of pay might create unrest. Still other countries had national exclusion laws. In the case of Alaska and Trinidad Secretary Stimson ordered, "Don't yield." Speaking of Iceland, Greenland and Labrador, he commented, "Pretty cold for blacks." To the request of Panamanian officials that a black signal construction unit be withdrawn from their country he replied, "Tell them [the black unit] they must complete their work—it is ridiculous to raise such objections when the Panama Canal itself was built with black labor." As for Chile and Venezuela's exclusion of Negroes he ruled that "As we are the petitioners here we probably must comply."52 Stimson's rulings led to a new War Department policy: henceforth black soldiers would be assigned without regard to color except that they would not be sent to extreme northern areas or to any country against its will when the United States had requested the right to station troops in that country.53
Ultimately, theater commanders decided which troops would be committed to action and which units would be needed overseas, their decisions were usually respected by the War Department where few believed that Washington should dictate such matters. Unwilling to add racial problems to their administrative burdens, some commanders had been known to cancel their request for troops rather than accept black units. Consequently, very few Negroes were sent overseas in the early years of the war.
Black soldiers were often the victims of gross discrimination that transcended
their difficulties with the Army's administration. For instance, black
soldiers, particularly those from more integrated regions of the country,
resented local ordinances governing transportation and recreation facilities
that put them at a great disadvantage in the important matters of leave
and amusement. Infractions of local rules were inevitable and led to heightened
racial tension and recurring violence.54 At
times black soldiers themselves, reflecting the low morale and lack of
discipline in their units, instigated the violence. Whoever the culprits,
the Army's files are replete with cases of discrimination charged, investigations
launched, and exonerations issued or reforms ordered.55
An incredible amount of time and effort went into handling these cases
during the darkest
days of the war—cases growing out of a policy created in the name of military efficiency.
Nor was the violence limited to the United States Racial friction also developed in Great Britain where some American troops, resenting their black countrymen's social acceptance by the British, tried to export Jim Crow by forcing the segregation of recreational facilities. Appreciating the treatment they were receiving from the British, the black soldiers fought back, and the clashes grew at times to riot proportions. General Davis considered discrimination and prejudice the cause of trouble, but he placed the immediate blame on local commanders. Many commanders, convinced that they had little jurisdiction over racial disputes in the civilian community or simply refusing to accept responsibility, delegated the task of keeping order to their noncommissioned officers and military police.56 These men, rarely experienced in handling racial disturbances and often prejudiced against black soldiers, usually managed to exacerbate the situation.
In an atmosphere charged with rumors and counterrumors, personal incidents involving two men might quickly blow up into riots involving hundreds. In the summer of 1943 the Army began to reap what Ulysees Lee called the "harvest of disorder." Race riots occurred at military reservations in Mississippi, Georgia, California, Texas, and Kentucky. At other stations, the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies somberly warned, there were indications of unrest ready to erupt into violence.57 By the middle of the war, violence over racial issues at home and abroad had become a source of constant concern for the War Department.
Concern over troop morale and discipline and the attendant problem of racial violence did not lead to a substantial revision of the Army's racial policy. On the contrary, the Army staff continued to insist that segregation was a national issue and that the Army's task was to defend the country, not alter its social customs. Until the nation changed its racial practices or until Congress ordered such changes for the armed forces, racially separated units would remain.58 In 1941 the Army had insisted that debate on the subject was closed,59 and, in fact, except for discussion of the Chamberlain Plan there was no serious thought of revising racial policy in the Army staff until after the war.
Had the debate been reopened in 1943, the traditionalists on the Army staff would have found new support for their views in a series of surveys made of white and black soldiers in 1942 and 1943. These surveys supported the theory that the Army, a national institution composed of individual citizens with pronounced views on race, would meet massive disobedience and internal disorder as well as national resistance to any substantial change in policy. One extensive survey, covering 13,000 soldiers in ninety-two units, revealed that 88 percent of the whites and 38 percent of the Negroes preferred segregated units. Among the whites, 85 percent preferred separate service clubs and 81 percent preferred separate post exchanges. Almost half of the Negroes thought separate service clubs and post exchanges were a good idea.60 These attitudes merely reflected widely held national views as suggested in a 1943 survey of five key cities by the Office of War Information.61 The survey showed that 90 percent of the whites and 25 percent of the blacks questioned supported segregation.
Some Army officials considered justification by statistics alone a risky business. Reviewing the support for segregation revealed in the surveys, for example, the Special Services Division commented: "Many of the Negroes and some of the whites who favor separation in the Army indicate by their comments that they are opposed to segregation in principle. They favor separation in the Army to avoid trouble or unpleasantness." Its report added that the longer a Negro remained in the Army, the less likely he was to support segregation.62 Nor did it follow from the overwhelming support for segregation that a policy of integration would result in massive resistance. As critics later pointed out, the same surveys revealed that almost half the respondents expressed a strong preference for civilian life, but the Army did not infer that serious disorders would result if these men were forced to remain in uniform.63
By 1943 Negroes within and without the War Department had just about exhausted arguments for a policy change. After two years of trying, Judge Hastie came to believe that change was possible only in response to "strong and manifest public opinion." He concluded that he would be far more useful as a private citizen who could express his views freely and publicly than he was as a War Department employee, bound to conform to official policy. Quitting the department, Hastie joined the increasingly vocal black organizations in a sustained attack on the Army's segregation policy, an attack that was also being translated into political action by the major civil rights organizations. In 1943, a full year before the national elections, representatives of twenty-five civil rights groups met and formulated the demands they would make of the presidential candidates: full integration (some groups tempered this demand by calling for integrated units of volunteers); abolition of racial quotas; abolition of segregation in recreational and other Army facilities; abolition of blood plasma segregation; development of an educational program in race relations in the Army; greater black participation in combat forces; and the progressive removal of black troops from areas where they were subject to disrespect, abuse, and even violence.64
The Army could not afford to ignore these demands completely, as Truman K. Gibson, Jr., Judge Hastie's successor, pointed out.65 The political situation indicated that the racial policy of the armed forces would be an issue in the next national election. Recalling the changes forced on the Army as a result of political pressures applied before the 1940 election, Gibson predicted that actions that might now seem impolitic to the Army and the White House might not seem so during the next campaign when the black vote could influence the outcome in several important states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan. Already the Chicago Tribune and other antiadministration groups were trying to encourage black protest in terms not always accurate but nonetheless believable to the black voter. Gibson suggested that the Army act before the political pressure became even more intense.66
Caught between the black demands and War Department traditions, the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies launched an attack—much too late and too weak, its critics agreed—on what it perceived as the causes of the Army's racial disorders. Some of the credit for this attack must go to Truman Gibson. No less dedicated to abolition of racial segregation than Hastie, Gibson eschewed the grand gesture and emphasized those practical changes that could be effected one step at a time. For all his zeal, Gibson was admirably detached.67 He knew that his willingness to recognize that years of oppression and injustice had marred the black soldier's performance would earn for him the scorn of many civil rights activists, but he also know that his fairness made him an effective advocate in the War Department. He worked closely with McCloy's committee, always describing with his alternatives for action their probable effect upon the Army, the public, and the developing military situation. As a result of the close cooperation between the Advisory Committee and Gibson the Army for the first time began to agree on practical if not policy changes.
The Advisory Committee's first campaign was directed at local commanders. After a long review of the evidence, the committee was convinced that the major cause of racial disorder was the failure of commanders in some echelons to appreciate the seriousness of racial unrest and their own responsibility for dealing with the discipline, morale, and welfare of their men. Since it found that most disturbances began with real or fancied incidents of discrimination, the committee concluded that there should be no discrimination against Negroes in the matter of privileges and accommodations and none in favor of Negroes that compromised disciplinary standards. The committee wanted local commanders to be reminded that maintaining proper discipline and good order among soldiers, and between soldiers and civilians, was a definite command responsibility.68
General Marshall incorporated the committee's recommendations in a letter to the field. He concluded by saying that "failure on the part of any commander to concern himself personally and vigorously with this problem will be considered as evidence of lack of capacity and cause for reclassification and removal from assignment."69 At the same time, the Chief of Staff did not adopt several of the committee's specific recommendations. He did not require local commanders to recommend changes in War Department policy on the treatment of Negroes and the organization and employment of black units. Nor did he require them to report on steps taken by them to follow the committee's recommendations. Moreover, he did not order the dispatch of black combat units to active theaters although the committee had pointed to this course as "the most effective means of reducing tension among Negro troops."
Next, the Advisory Committee turned its attention to the black press. Judge Hastie and the representatives of the senior civil rights organizations were judicious in their criticism and accurate in their charges, but this statement could not be made for much of the black press. Along with deserting credit for spotlighting racial injustices and giving a very real impetus to racial progress, a segment of the black press had to share the blame for fomenting racial disorder by the frequent publication of inaccurate and inflammatory war stories. Some field commanders charged that the constant criticism was detrimental to troop morale and demanded that the War Department investigate and even censor particular black newspapers. In July 1943 the Army Service Forces recommended that General Marshall officially warn the editors against printing inciting and untrue stories and suggested that if this caution failed sedition proceedings be instituted against the culprits.70 General Marshall followed a more moderate course suggested by Assistant Secretary McCloy.71 The Army staff amplified and improved the services of the Bureau of Public Relations by appointing Negroes to the bureau and by releasing more news items of special interest to black journalists. The result was a considerable increase in constructive and accurate stories on black participation in the war, although articles and editorials continued to be severely critical of the Army's segregation policy.
The proposal to send black units into combat, rejected by Marshall when raised by the Advisory Committee in 1943, became the preeminent racial issue in the Army during the next year.72 It was vitally necessary, the Advisory Committee reasoned, that black troops not be wasted by leaving them to train endlessly in camps around the country, and that the War Department begin making them a "military asset." In March 1944 it recommended to Secretary Stimson that black units be introduced into combat and that units and training schedules be reorganized if necessary to insure that this deployment be carried out as promptly as possible. Elaborating on the committee's recommendation, Chairman McCloy added:
There has been a tendency to allow the situation to develop
where selections are made on the basis of efficiency with the result that
the colored units are discarded for combat service, but little is done
by way of studying new means to put them in shape for combat service.
With so large a portion of our population colored, with the example of the effective use of colored troops (of a much lower order of intelligence) by other nations, and with the many imponderables that are connected with the situation, we must, I think, be more affirmative about the use of our Negro troops. If present methods do not bring them to combat efficiency, we should change those methods. That is what this resolution purports to recommend.73
Stimson agreed, and on 4 March 1944 the Advisory Committee met with members of the Army staff to decide on combat assignments for regimental combat teams from the 92d and 93d Divisions. In order that both handpicked soldiers and normal units might be tested, the team from the 93d would come from existing units of that division, and the one from the 92d would be a specially selected group of volunteers. General Marshall and his associates continued to view the commitment of black combat troops as an experiment that might provide documentation for the future employment of Negroes in combat.74 In keeping with this experiment, the Army staff suggested to field commanders how Negroes might be employed and requested continuing reports on the units' progress.
The belated introduction of major black units into combat helped alleviate the Army's racial problems. After elements of the 93d Division were committed on Bougainville in March 1944 and an advanced group of the 92d landed in Italy in July, the Army staff found it easier to ship smaller supporting units to combat theaters, either as separate units or as support for larger units, a course that reduced the glut of black soldiers stationed in the United States. Recognizing that many of these units had poor leaders, Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, head of the Army Ground Forces, ordered that, "if practicable," all leaders of black units who had not received "excellent" or higher in their efficiency ratings would be replaced before the units were scheduled for overseas deployment.75 Given the "if practicable" loophole, there was little chance that all the units would go overseas with "excellent" commanders.
93D DIVISION TROOPS IN BOUGAINVILLE, APRIL 1944. Men, packing mortar shells, cross the West Branch Texas River. [Photograph not included.]
A source of pride to the black community, the troop commitments also helped to reduce national racial tensions, but they did little for the average black soldier who remained stationed in the United States. He continued to suffer discrimination within and without the gates of the camp. The committee attributed that discrimination to the fact that War Department policy was not being carried out in all commands. In some instances local commanders were unaware of the policy; in others they refused to pay sufficient attention to the seriousness of what was, after all, but one of many problems facing them. For some time committee members had been urging the War Department to write special instructions, and finally in February 1944 the department issued a pamphlet designed to acquaint local commanders with an official definition of Army racial policy and to improve methods of developing leaders in black units. Command of Negro Troops was a landmark publication.76 Its frank statement of the Army's racial problems, its scholarly and objective discussion of the disadvantages that burdened the black soldier, and its outline of black rights and responsibilities clearly revealed the committee's intention to foster racial harmony by promoting greater command responsibility. The pamphlet represented a major departure from previous practice and served as a model for later Army and Navy statements on race. 77
But pamphlets alone would not put an end to racial discrimination; the committee had to go beyond its role of instructor. Although the War Department had issued a directive on 10 March 1943 forbidding the assignment of any recreational facility, "including theaters and post exchanges," by race and requiring the removal of signs labeling facilities for "white" and "colored" soldiers, there had been little alteration in the recreational situation. The directive had allowed the separate use of existing facilities by designated units and camp areas, so that in many places segregation by unit had replaced separation by race, and inspectors and commanders reported that considerable. confusion existed over the War Department's intentions. On other posts the order to remove the racial labels from facilities was simply disregarded. On 8 July 1944 the committee persuaded the War Department to issue another directive clearly informing commanders that facilities could be allocated to specific areas or units, but that all post exchanges and theaters must be opened to all soldiers regardless of race. All government transportation, moreover, was to be available to all troops regardless of race. Nor could soldiers be restricted to certain sections of government vehicles on or off base, regardless of local customs.78
Little dramatic change ensued in day-to-day life on base. Some commanders, emphasizing that part of the directive which allowed the designation of facilities for units and areas, limited the degree of the directive's application to post exchanges and theaters and ignored those provisions concerned with individual rights. This interpretation only added to the racial unrest that culminated in several incidents, of which the one at the officers' club at Freeman Field, Indiana, was the most widely publicized.79 After this incident the committee promptly asked for a revision of WD Pamphlet 20-6 on the command of black troops that would clearly spell out the intention of the authors of the directive to apply its integration provisions explicitly to "officers' clubs, messes, or similar social organizations." 80 In effect the War Department was declaring that racial separation applied to units only. For the first time it made a clear distinction between Army race policy to be applied on federal military reservations and local civilian laws and customs to be observed by members of the armed forces when off post. In Acting Secretary Patterson's words:
The War Department has maintained throughout the emergency and present war that it is not an appropriate medium for effecting social readjustments but has insisted that all soldiers, regardless of race, be afforded equal opportunity to enjoy the recreational facilities which are provided at posts, camps and stations. The thought has been that men who are fulfilling the same obligation, suffering the same dislocation of their private lives, and wearing the identical uniform should, within the confines of the military establishment, have the same privileges for rest and relaxations. 81
Widely disseminated by the black press as the "anti-Jim Crow law," the directive and its interpretation by senior officials produced the desired result. Although soldiers most often continued to frequent the facilities in their own base areas, in effect maintaining racial separation, they were free to use any facilities, and this knowledge gradually dispelled some of the tensions on posts where restrictions of movement had been a constant threat to good order.
With some pride, Assistant Secretary McCloy claimed on his Advisory Committee's first birthday that the Army had "largely eliminated discrimination against the Negroes within its ranks, going further in this direction than the country itself."82 He was a little premature. Not until the end of 1944 did the Advisory Committee succeed in eliminating the most glaring examples of discrimination within the Army. Even then race remained an issue, and isolated racial incidents continued to occur.
Departmental policy notwithstanding, a certain amount of racial integration was inevitable during a war that mobilized a biracial army of eight million men. Through administrative error or necessity, segregation was ignored on many occasions, and black and white soldiers often worked and lived together in hospitals,83 rest camps, schools, and, more rarely, units. But these were isolated cases, touching relatively few men, and they had no discernible effect on racial policy. Of much more importance was the deliberate integration in officer training schools and in the divisions fighting in the European theater in 1945. McCloy referred to these deviations from policy as experiments "too limited to afford general conclusions."84 But if they set no precedents, they at least challenged the Army's cherished assumptions on segregation and strengthened the postwar demands for change.
The Army integrated its officer candidate training in an effort to avoid the mistakes of the World War I program. In 1917 Secretary of War Newton D. Baker had established a separate training school for black officer candidates at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, with disappointing results. To fill its quotas the school had been forced to lower its entrance standards, and each month an arbitrary number of black officer candidates were selected and graduated with little regard for their qualifications. Many World War I commanders agreed that the black officers produced by the school proved inadequate as troop commanders, and postwar staff studies generally opposed the future use of black officers. Should the Army be forced to accept black officers in the future, these commanders generally agreed, they should be trained along with whites.85
GUN CREW OF BATTERY B, 598th FIELD ARTILLERY, moving into position near the Arno River, Italy, September 1944. [Photograph not included.]
Despite these criticisms, mobilization plans between the wars all assumed
that black officers would be trained and commissioned, although, as the
1937 mobilization plan put it, their numbers would be limited to those
required to provide officers for organizations authorized to have black
officers.86 No detailed plans were drawn up
on the nature of this training, but by the eve of World War II a policy
had become fixed: Negroes were to be chosen and trained according to the
same standards as white officers, preferably in the same
schools.87 The War Department ignored the subject of race when it established the officer candidate schools in 1941. "The basic and predominating consideration governing selections to OCS," The Adjutant General announced, would be "outstanding qualities of leadership as demonstrated by actual services in the Army."88 General Davis, who participated in the planning conferences, reasoned that integrated training would be vital for the cooperation that would be necessary in battle. He agreed with the War Department's silence on race, adding, "you can't have Negro, white, or Jewish officers, you've got to have American officers."89
TANKERS OF THE 761ST MEDIUM TANK BATTALION prepare for action in the European theater, August 1944 [Photograph not included.]
The Army's policy failed to consider one practical problem: if race was ignored in War Department directives, would black candidates ever be nominated and selected for officer training? Early enrollment figures suggested they would not. Between July 1941, when the schools opened, and October 1941, only seventeen out of the 1,997 students enrolled in candidate schools were Negroes Only six more Negroes entered during the next two months.90
Some civil rights spokesmen argued for the establishment of a quota system, and a few Negroes even asked for a return to segregated schools to insure a more plentiful supply of black officers. Even before the schools opened, Judge Hastie warned Secretary Stimson that any effective integration plan "required a directive to Corps Area Commanders indicating that Negroes are to be selected in numbers exactly or approximately indicated for particular schools.''91 But the planners had recommended the integrated schools precisely to avoid a quota system. They were haunted by the Army's 1917 experience, although the chief of the Army staff's Organizations Division did not allude to these misgivings when he answered Judge Hastie. He argued that a quota could not be defended on any grounds "except those of a political nature" and would be "race discrimination against the whites."92
General Marshall agreed that racial parity could not be achieved at the expense of commissioning unqualified men, but he was equally adamant about providing equal opportunity for all qualified candidates, black and white. He won support for his position from some of the civil rights advocates.93 These arguments may not have swayed Hastie, but in the end he dropped the idea of a regular quota system, judging it unworkable in the case of the officer candidate schools. He concluded that many commanders approached the selection of officer candidates with a bias against the Negro, and he recommended that a directive or confidential memorandum be sent to commanders charged with the selection of officer candidates informing them that a certain minimum percentage of black candidates was to be chosen. Hastie's recommendation was ignored, but the widespread refusal of local commanders to approve or transmit applications of Negroes, or even to give them access to appropriate forms, halted when Secretary Stimson and the Army staff made it plain that they expected substantial numbers of Negroes to be sent to the schools.94
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People meanwhile moved quickly to prove that the demand for a return to segregated schools, made by Edgar G. Brown, president of the United States Government Employees, and broadcaster Fulton Lewis, Jr., enjoyed little backing in the black community. "We respectfully submit," Walter White informed Stimson and Roosevelt, "that no leader considered responsible by intelligent Negro or white Americans would make such a request."95 In support of its stand the NAACP issued a statement signed by many influential black leaders.
WAAC REPLACEMENTS training at Fort Huachuca, December 1942. [Photograph not included.]
The segregationists attacked integration of the officer candidate schools for the obvious reasons. A group of Florida congressmen, for example, protested to the Army against the establishment of an integated Air Corps school at Miami Beach. The War Department received numerous complaints when living quarters at the schools were integrated. The president of the White Supremacy League complained that young white candidates at Fort Benning "have to eat and sleep with Negro candidates," calling it "the most damnable outrage that was ever perpetrated on the youth of the South." To all such complaints the War Department answered that separation was not always possible because of the small number of Negroes involved.96
In answering these complaints the Army developed its ultimate justification for integrated officer schools: integration was necessary on the grounds of efficiency and economy. As one Army spokesman put it, "our objection to separate schools is based primarily on the fact that black officer candidates are eligible from every branch of the Army, including the Armored Force and tank destroyer battalions, and it would be decidedly uneconomical to attempt to gather in one school the materiel and instructor personnel necessary to give training in all these branches."97
Officer candidate training was the Army's first formal experiment with integration. Many blacks and whites lived together with a minimum of friction, and, except in flight school, all candidates trained together.98 Yet in some schools the number of black officer candidates made racially separate rooms feasible, and Negroes were usually billeted and messed together. In other instances Army organizations were slow to integrate their officer training. The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, for example, segregated black candidates until late 1942 when Judge Hastie brought the matter to McCloy's attention.99 Nevertheless, the Army's experiment was far more important than its immediate results indicated. It proved that even in the face of considerable opposition the Army was willing to abandon its segregation policy when the issues Of economy and efficiency were made sufficiently clear and compelling.
The Army's second experiment with integration came in part from the need for infantry replacements during the Allied advance across Western Europe in the summer and fall of 1944.100 The Ground Force Replacement Command had been for some time converting soldiers from service units to infantry, and even as the Germans launched their counterattack in the Ardennes the command was drawing up plans to release thousands of soldiers in Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee's Communications Zone and train them as infantrymen. These plans left the large reservoir of black manpower in the theater untapped until General Lee suggested that General Dwight D. Eisenhower permit black service troops to volunteer for infantry training and eventual employment as individual replacements. General Eisenhower agreed, and on 26 December Lee issued a call to the black troops for volunteers to share "the privilege of joining our veteran units at the front to deliver the knockout blow." The call was limited to privates in the upper four categories of the Army General Classification Test who had had some infantry training. If noncommissioned officers wanted to apply, they had to accept a reduction in grade. Although patronizing in tone, the plan was a bold departure from War Department policy: "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 relatives and friends everywhere have been urging that you be granted this privilege."101
The revolutionary nature of General Lee's plan was not lost on Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force. Arguing that the circular promising integrated service would embarrass the Army, Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith the chief of staff, recommended that General Eisenhower warn the War Department that civil rights spokesmen might seize on this example to demand wider integration. To avoid future moves that might compromise Army policy, Smith wanted permission to review any Communications Zone statements on Negroes before they were released.
General Eisenhower compromised. Washington was not consulted, and Eisenhower himself revised the circular, eliminating the special call for black volunteers and the promise of integration on an individual basis. He substituted instead a general appeal for volunteers, adding the further qualification that "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.''l02 This statement was disseminated throughout the European theater.
The Eisenhower revision needed considerable clarification. It mentioned the replacement needs of black combat units, but there were no black infantry units in the theater;103 and the replacement command was not equipped to retrain men for artillery, tank, and tank destroyer units, the types of combat units that did employ Negroes in Europe. The revision also called for volunteers in excess of these needs to be "suitably incorporated in other organizations," but it did not indicate how they would be organized. Eisenhower later made it clear that he preferred to organize the volunteers in groups that could replace white units in the line, but again the replacement command was geared to train individual, not unit, replacements. After considerable discussion and compromise, Eisenhower agreed to have Negroes trained "as members of Infantry rifle platoons familiar with the Infantry rifle platoon weapons." The platoons would be sent for assignment to Army commanders who would provide them with platoon leaders, platoon sergeants, and, if needed, squad leaders.
Unaware of how close they had come to being integrated as individuals, so many Negroes volunteered for combat training and duty that the operations of some service units were threatened. To prevent disrupting these vital operations, the theater limited the number to 2, 500, turning down about 3,000 men. Early in January 1945 the volunteers assembled for six weeks of standard infantry conversion training. After training, the new black infantrymen were organized into fifty-three platoons, each under a white platoon leader and sergeant, and were dispatched to the field, two to work with armored divisions and the rest with infantry divisions. Sixteen were shipped to the 6th Army Group, the rest to the 12th Army Group, and all saw action with a total of eleven divisions in the First and Seventh Armies.
VOLUNTEERS FOR COMBAT IN TRAINING, 47th Reinforcement Depot, February 1945. [Photograph not included.]
In the First Army the black platoons were usually assigned on the basis of three to a division, and the division receiving them normally placed one platoon in each regiment. At the company level, the black platoon generally served to augment the standard organization of three rifle platoons and one heavy weapons platoon. In the Seventh Army, the platoons were organized into provisional companies and attached to infantry battalions in armored divisions. General Davis warned the Seventh Army commander, Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, that the men had not been trained for employment as company units and were not being properly used. The performance of the provisional companies failed to match the performance of the platoons integrated into white companies and their morale was lower.l04 At the end of the war the theater made clear to the black volunteers that integration was over. Although a large group was sent to the 69th Infantry Division to be returned home, most were reassigned to black combat or service units in the occupation army.
The experiment with integration of platoons was carefully scrutinized. In May and June 1945, the Research Branch of the Information and Education Division of Eisenhower's theater headquarters made a survey solely to discover what white company-grade officers and platoon sergeants thought of the combat performance of the black rifle platoons. Trained interviewers visited seven infantry divisions and asked the same question of 250 men—all the available company officers and a representative sample of platoon sergeants in twenty-four companies that had had black platoons. In addition, a questionnaire, not to be signed, was submitted to approximately 1,700 white enlisted men in other field forces for the purpose of discovering what their attitudes were toward the use of black riflemen. No Negro was asked his opinion.
More than 80 percent of the white officers and noncommissioned officers who were interviewed reported that the Negroes had performed "very well" in combat; 69 percent of the officers and 83 percent of the noncommissioned officers saw no reason why black infantrymen should not perform as well as white infantrymen if both had the same training and experience. Most reported getting along "very well" with the black volunteers; the heavier the combat shared, the closer and better the relationships. Nearly all the officers questioned admitted that the camaraderie between white and black troops was far better than they had expected. Most enlisted men reported that they had at first disliked and even been apprehensive at the prospect of having black troops in their companies, but three-quarters of them had changed their minds after serving with Negroes in combat, their distrust turning into respect and friendliness. Of the officers and noncommissioned officers, 77 percent had more favorable feelings toward Negroes after serving in close proximity to them, the others reported no change in attitude; not a single individual stated that he had developed a less favorable attitude. A majority of officers approved the idea of organizing Negroes in platoons to serve in white companies; the practice, they said, would stimulate the spirit of competition between races, avoid friction with prejudiced whites, eliminate discrimination, and promote interracial understanding. Familiarity with Negroes dispersed fear of the unknown and bred respect for them among white troops; only those lacking experience with black soldiers were inclined to be suspicious and hostile. 105
General Brehon B. Somervell, commanding general of the Army Service Forces, questioned the advisability of releasing the report. An experiment involving 1,000 volunteers—his figure was inaccurate, actually 2,500 were involved—was hardly, he believed, a conclusive test. Furthermore, organizations such as the NAACP might be encouraged to exert pressure for similar experiments among troops in training in the United States and even in the midst of active operations in the Pacific theater—pressure, he believed, that might hamper training and operations. What mainly concerned Somervell were the political implications. Many members of Congress, newspaper editors, and others who had given strong support to the War Department were, he contended, "vigorously opposed" to integration under any conditions. A strong adverse reaction from this influential segment of the nation's opinion-makers might alienate public support for a postwar program of universal military training.106
General Omar N. Bradley, the senior American field commander in Europe, took a different tack. Writing for the theater headquarters and drawing upon such sources of information as the personal observations of some officers General Bradley disparaged the significance of the experiment. Most of the black platoons, he observed, had participated mainly in mopping-up operations or combat against a disorganized enemy. Nor could the soldiers involved in the experiment be considered typical, in Bradley's opinion. They were volunteers of above average intelligence according to their commanders.107 Finally, Bradley contended that, while no racial trouble emerged during combat, the mutual friendship fostered by fighting a common enemy was threatened when the two races were closely associated in rest and recreational areas. Nevertheless, he agreed that the performance of the platoons was satisfactory enough to warrant continuing the experiment but recommended the use of draftees with average qualifications. At the same time, he drew away from further integration by suggesting that the experiment be expanded to include employment of entire black rifle companies in white regiments to avoid some of the social difficulties encountered in rest areas. 108
General Marshall, the Chief of Staff, agreed with both Somervell and Bradley. Although he thought that the possibility of integrating black units into white units should be "followed up," he believed that the survey should not be made public because "the conditions under which the [black] platoons were organized and employed were most unusual."109 Too many of the circumstances of the experiment were special—the voluntary recruitment of men for frontline duty, the relatively high number of noncommissioned officers among the volunteers, and the fact that the volunteers were slightly older and scored higher in achievement tests than the average black soldier. Moreover, throughout the experiment some degree of segregation, with all its attendant psychological and morale problems, had been maintained.
The platoon experiment was illuminating in several respects. The fact that so late in the war thousands of Negroes volunteered to trade the safety of the rear for duty at the front said something about black patriotism and perhaps something about the Negro's passion for equality. It also demonstrated that, when properly trained and motivated and treated with fairness, blacks, like whites, performed with bravery and distinction in combat. Finally, the experiment successfully attacked one of the traditionalists' shibboleths, that close association of the races in Army units would cause social dissension.
ROAD REPAIRMEN, Company A, 279th Engineer Battalion, near Rimberg, Germany, December 1944. [Photograph not included.]
It is now apparent that World War II had little immediate effect on the quest for racial equality in the Army. The Double V campaign against fascism abroad and racism at home achieved considerably less than the activists had hoped. Although Negroes shared in the prosperity brought by war industries and some 800,000 of them served in uniform, segregation remained the policy of the Army throughout the war, just as Jim Crow still ruled in large areas of the country. Probably the campaign's most important achievement was that during the war the civil rights groups, in organizing for the fight against discrimination, began to gather strength and develop techniques that would be useful in the decades to come. The Army's experience with black units also convinced many that segregation was a questionable policy when the country needed to mobilize fully.
For its part the Army defended the separation of the races in the name of military efficiency and claimed that it had achieved a victory over racial discrimination by providing equal treatment and job opportunity for black soldiers. But the Army's campaign had also been less than completely successful. True, the Army had provided specialist training and opened job opportunities heretofore denied to thousands of Negroes, and it had a cadre of potential leaders in the hundreds of experienced black officers. For the times, the Army was a progressive minority employer. Even so, as an institution it had defended the separate but equal doctrine and had failed to come to grips with segregation. Under segregation the Army was compelled to combine large numbers of undereducated and undertrained black soldiers in units that were often inefficient and sometimes surplus to its needs. This system in turn robbed the Army of the full services of the educated and able black soldier, who had every reason to feel restless and rebellious.
The Army received no end of advice on its manpower policy during the war. Civil rights spokesmen continually pointed out that segregation itself was discriminatory, and Judge Hastie in particular hammered on this proposition before the highest officials of the War Department. In fact Hastie's recommendations, criticisms, and arguments crystallized the demands of civil rights leaders. The Army successfully resisted the proposition when its Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies under John McCloy modified but did not appreciably alter the segregation policy. It was a predictable course. The Army's racial policy was more than a century old, and leaders considered it dangerous if not impossible to revise traditional ways during a global war involving so many citizens with pronounced and different views on race.
What both the civil rights activists and the Army's leaders tended to ignore during the war was that segregation was inefficient. The myriad problems associated with segregated units, in contrast to the efficient operation of the integrated officer candidate schools and the integrated infantry platoons in Europe, were overlooked in the atmosphere of charges and denials concerning segregation and discrimination. John McCloy was an exception. He had clearly become dissatisfied with the inefficiency of the Army's policy, and in the week following the Japanese surrender he questioned Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal on the Navy's experiments with integration. "It has always seemed to me," he concluded, "that we never put enough thought into the matter of making a real military asset out of the very large cadre of Negro personnel we received from the country.''110 Although segregation persisted, the fact that it hampered military efficiency was the hope of those who looked for a change in the Army's policy.
1This survey of the Army and
the Negro in World War II is based principally on Lee's Employment of
Negro Troops. A comprehensive account of the development of policy,
the mobilization of black soldiers, and their use in the various theaters
and units of World War II, this book is an indispensable source for any
serious student of the subject.
2For examples of how World War I military experiences affected the thinking of the civil rights advocates and military traditionalists of World War II, see Lester B. Granger Oral History Interview, 1960, Columbia University Oral History Collection; Interview, Lee Nichols with Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee (c. 1953). For the influence of World War 11 on a major contributor to postwar racial policy, see Interview, Lee Nichols with Harry S. Truman, 24 Jun 53. Last two in Nichols Collection, CMH. These interviews are among many compiled by Nichols as part of his program associated with the production of Breakthrough on the Color Front (New York: Random House, 1954). Nichols, a journalist, presented this collection of interviews, along with other documents and materials, to the Center of Military History in 1972. The interviews have proved to be a valuable supplement to the official record. They capture the thoughts of a number of important participants, some no longer alive, at a time relatively close to the events under consideration. They have been checked against the sources whenever possible and found accurate.
3Memo, ACofS, G-3, for CofS, 3 Jun 40, sub: Employment of Negro Manpower, G-3/6541-527.
4Memo, TAG for CG's et al., 16 Oct 40, sub: War Department Policy in Regard to Negroes, AG 291.21 (10 - 9 - 40) M-A-M.
5The foregoing impressions are derived largely from Interviews, Lee Nichols with James C. Evans, who worked for Judge Hastie during World War 11, and Ulysses G. Lee (c. 1953). Both in Nichols Collection, CMH.
6Memo, William H. Hastie for SW, with attachment, 22 Sep 41, sub: Survey and Recommendations Conceming the Integration of the Negro Soldiers Into the Army, G-1 /15640-120. See also Intervs, Nichols with Evans and Lee.
7Stimson, a Republican, had been appointed by Roosevelt in 1940, along with Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, in an effort to enlist bipartisan support for the administration's foreign policy in an election year. Stimson brought a wealth of experience with him to the office, having served as Secretary of War under William Howard Taft and Secretary of State under Herbert Hoover. The quotations are from Stimson Diary, 25 October 1940, Henry L. Stimson Papers, Yale University Library.
8Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and Lear (New York. Harper and Brothers, 1947), pp. 461-64. The quotations are from Stimson Diary, 24 Jan 42
9Memo, USW for CofS, 6 Oct41, G-1/15640-120.
10Memo, CofS for SW, 1 Dec 41, sub: Report of Judge William H. Hastie, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of War, dated 22 Sep 41, OCS 20602-219.
11Ibid. See also Forrest C. Pogue, George C. Marshall: Organizer of Victory (New York: The Viking Press, 1973), pp. 96-99.
12The Army staff's mobilization planning for black units in the 1930's generally relied upon the detailed testimony of the commanders of black units in World War I. This testimony, contained in documents submitted to the War Department and the Army War College, was often critical of the Army's employment of black troops, although rarely critical of segregation. The material is now located in the U.S. Army's Military History Research Collection, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. For discussion of the post-World War I review of the employment of black troops, see Lee's Employment of Negro Troops, Chapter 1, and Alan M. Osur's Blacks in the Army Air Forces During World War II: The Problem of Race Relations (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1977), Chapter 1.
13Memo, USW for Maj Gen William Bryden (principal deputy chief of staff), 10 Jan 42, OCS 20602-250.
14 Col Eugene R. Householder, TAGO, Speech Before Conference of Negro Editors and Publishers, 8 Dec 41, AG 291.21(12-1-41) (1).
15 Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, ch. Vl.
16Noteworthy is the fact that for several reasons not related to race (for instance, language and nationality) the German Army also organized separate units. Its 162d Infantry Division was composed of troops from Turkestan and the Caucasus, and its 5th SS Panzer Division had segregated Scandinavian, Dutch, and Flemish regiments. Unlike the racially segregated U.S. Army, Germany's so-called Ost units were only administratively organized into separate divisions, and an Ost infantry battalion was often integrated into a "regular" German infantry regiment as its fourth infantry battalion. Several allied armies also had segregated units, composed, for example, of Senegalese, Gurkhas, Maoris, and Algerians.
17Memo, ASW for Judge Hastie, 2 Jul 42, ASW 291.2, NT 1942.
18Strength of the Army, 1 Jan 46, STM-30, p. 61.
19Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 241-57. For an extended discussion of Army test scores and their relation to education,, see Department of the Army, Marginal Man and Military Service: A Review (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1966). This report was prepared for the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for Personnel Management by a working group under the leadership of Dr. Samuel King, Office of the Chief of Research and Development.
20For discussion of how Selective
Service channeled manpower into the armed forces, see Selective Service
System, Special Monograph Number 10, Special Groups (Washington: Government
Printing Office, 1953) ch. V111, and Special Monograph Number 12, Quotas'
Calls, and lnductions (Washington Government Printing Office, 1948),
21Lee, Employmentof Negro Troops, p. 113.
22The Army's air arm was reorganized several times. Designated as the Army Air Corps in 1926 (the successor to the historic Army Air Service), it became the Army Air Forces in the summer of 1941. This designalion lasted until a separate U.S. Air Force was created in 1947. Organizationally, the Army was divided in March 1942 into three equal parts: the Army Ground Forces, the Army Service Forces (originally Services of Supply), and the Army Air Forces. This division was administrative. Each soldier continued to be assigned to a branch of the Army, for example, Infantry, Artillery, or Air Corps, a title retained as the name of an Army branch.
23Memo, CofAC for G—3, 31 May 40, sub: Employment of Negro Personnel in Air Corps Units, G-3/6541-Gen-527.
24USAF Oral History Program, Interv with Maj Gen Noel F. Parrish (USAF, Ret.), 30 Mar 73.
25William H. Hastie, On Clipped Wings: The Story of Jim Crow in the Army Air Corps (New York: NAACP, 1943). Based on War Department documents and statistics, this famous pamphlet was essentially an attack on the Army Air Corps. For a more comprehensive account of the Negro and the Army Air Forces, see Osur, Blacks in the Army Air Forces During World War II.
26For a detailed discussion of the black training program, see Osur, Black in the Army Air Forms During World War 11, ch. 111; Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 461-66; Charles E. Francis, The Tuskegee Airmen: The Story of the Negro in the U.S. AirForce (Boston: Bruce Humphries, 1955).
27Memo, CofAS for ASW, 12 Jan 43, ASW 291.2.
28Ltr, Walter White to Gen Marshall, 22 Dec 41, AG 291.21 (12-22-41).
29See C-279, 2, Volunteer Division Folder, NAACP Collection, Manuscripts Division, LC.
30Ltr, CofS to Dorothy Canfield Fisher, 16 Feb 42, OCS 20602-254.
31Draft Memo (initialed E.W.C.) for Gen Edwards, G-3 Negro File, 1942-44. see also Lee. Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 152-57.
32 Ltr, Paul v. McNutt to SW, 17 Feb 43, AG 327.31 (9-19-40) (1) sec. 12
33Ltr, SW to McNutt, 20 Feb 43, AG 327.31 (9-19-40) (1) sec. 12.
34Ltr, McNutt to SW, 23 Mar 43, AG 327.31 (9-19-40) (1) sec. 12.
35The danger was further reduced when, as part of a national manpower allocation reform, President Roosevelt removed the Bureau of Selective service from the war Manpower Commission’s control and restored it to its independent status as the Selective service System on 5 December 1943. see Stimson and Sandy. On Active Service, pp. 483-86; Theodore Wyckoff, ``The Office of the Secretary Of War Under Henry L. Stimson,’’ in CMH.
36Strength of the Army, 1 Jan 46, STM-30, p. 60.
37Memo, Dir of Mil Pers, SOS, for G-1, 12 Sep 42, SPGAM/322.5 (WAAC) (8-24-42). See also Edwin R. Embree, "Report of Informal Visit to Training Camp for WAAC's Des Moines, Iowa" (c. 1942), SPWA 291.21. For a general description of Negroes in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, see Mattie E. Treadwell, The Women's Army Corps, United States Army in World War II (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1954), especially Chapter III. See also Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 421-26.
38Inactivation of the, 2d Cavalry Division began in February 1944, and its headquarters completed the process on 10 May. The 9th Cavalry was inactivated on 7 March, the 10th Cavalry on 20 March 1944.
39Ltr, SW to Rep. Hamilton Fish, 19 Feb 44, reprinted in U.S. Congress, House, Congressional Record, 78th Cong., 2d sess., pp. 2007-08.
40War Department Pamphlet 20-6, Command of Negro Troops, 29 February 1944.
4lArmy Service Forces Manual M-5, Leadership and Me Negro Soldier, October 1944, p. iv
42Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, p. 84; for a full discussion Of morale, see ch. Xl. see also David G. Mandelbaum, Soldier Groups and Negro Soldiers (sakeley university of California Press, 1952); Charles Dollard and Donald Young, "In the Armed Forces," Survey Graphic 36 (January 1947):66ff.
43Memo, G-1 for Cots, 18 Jut 42; DF, G-1 to TAG, 11 Aug 42. Both in AG 334 (Advisory Cmte on Negro Trp Policies, I I Jul 42) (1).
44The committee included the Assistant Chiefs of Staff, Gel, of the War Department General Staff, the Air Staff, and the Army Ground Forces; the Director of Personnel, Army Service Forces, General Davis representing The Inspector General, and an acting secretary. The Civilian Aide to the Secretary of War was not a member, although Judge Hastie's successor was made an ex officio member in March 1943. See Min of Mtg of Advisory Cmte, Cal J. S. Leonard, 22 Mar 43, ASW 291.2 NTC.
45See, for example, Memo, Recorder, Cmte on Negro Troop Policies (Col John H. McCormick), for CofS, sub: Negro Troops, WDCSA 291.2 (12-24-42).
46Memo, Hastie for SW, 22 Sep 41, sub: Survey and Recommendations Concerning the Integration of the Negro Soldier Into the Army, G- I /15640-120.
47On 16 January 1942 the Navy announced that "in deference to the wishes of those for whom the plasma is being provided, the blood will be processed separately so that those receiving transfusions may be given blood of their own race." Three days later the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine, who was also the President's personal physician, told the Secretary of the Navy, " It is my opinion that at this time we cannot afford to open up a subject such as mixing blood or plasma regardless of the theoretical fact that there is no chemical difference in human blood." See Memo, Rear Adm Ross T. Mclntire for SecNav, 19 Jan 42, GenRecsNav. See also Florence Murray, ed., Negro Handbook, 1946-1947 (New York: A. A. Wyn, 1948), pp. 373-74. For effect of segregated blood banks on black morale, see Mary A. Morton, "The Federal Goverornent and Negro Morale, " Journal of Negro,Education (Summer 1943): 452, 455-56.
48Eli Ginzberg, The Negro Potential (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956), p. 85. Ginzberg points out that only about one out of ten black soldiers in the upper two mental categories became an officer, compared to one out of four white soldiers.
49Memo, DCofS to CG, AAF, 10 Aug 42, sub: Professional Qualities of Officers Assigned to Negro Units, WDGAP 322.99; Memo, CG, Vll Corps, to CG, AGE, 28 Aug 42, same sub, GNAGS 210.31.
50Brig Gen B. O. Davis, "History of a Special Section Office of the Inspector General (29 June 1941 to 16 November 1944)," p. 8, in CMH.
51Ltr, TAG to CG, AAF, et al., 1 3 May 42, AG 29 1.2 1 (3-3 1 -42).
52Stimson’s comments were not limited to overseas areas. To a request by the Second Army commander that Negroes be excluded from maneuvers in certain areas of the American south he replied "No, get the Southerners used to them!," Memo, ACES, WPD, for CofS, 25 Mar 42, sub The Colored Troop Problem OPD 291.2. Stimson’s comments are written marginally in ink and initialed "H.L.S."
53Memo, G-1 for TA,G, 4Apr42, end Revised proposals, 22 Apt and 30Apr42. AllinG-I/15640-2
54Memo, Civilian Aide to SW, 17 Nov 42, ASW 291.2 NT.
55See, for example, AAF Central Decimal Files for October 1942-May 1944 (RG 18). For an extended discussion Or this subject, see Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, ch. Xl-XIII.
56Memo, Brig Gen B. O. Davis for the IG, 24 Dec 42, IG 333.9-Great Britain.
57Memo, ASW for CofS, 3 Jul 43, sub: Negro Troops, ASW 291.2 NT. The Judge Advocate General described disturbances of this type as military "mutiny." See The Judge Advocate General, Military Justice, 1 July 1940 to 31 December 1945, p. 60, in CMH.
58Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, p. 83.
59Ltr, TAG to Dr. Amanda V. G. Hillyer, Chmn Program Cmte, D.C. Branch. NAACP, 12 Apr 41, AG 291.21 (2 - 28 - 41) (1).
60Research Branch, Special Service Division, "What the Soldier Thinks," 8 December 1942, and "Attitudes of the Negro Soldier," 28 July 1943. Both cited in Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 304-06. For detailed analysis, see Samuel A. Stouffer et al., Studies in Social Psychology in World Warr 11, vol. I, The American Soldier: Adjustment During Army Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949), pp. 556-80. For a more personal view of black experiences in World War 11 service clubs, see Margaret Halsey's Color Blind: A White Woman Looks at the Negro (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946). For a comprehensive expression of the attitudes of black soldiers4 see Mary P. Motley, ea., The Invisible Soldier: The Experience of the Black Soldier, World War II (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1975), a compilation of oral histories by World War II veterans. Although these interviews were conducted a quarter of a century after the event and in the wake of the modern civil rights movement, they provide useful insight to the attitude of black soldiers . toward discrimination in the services
61Office of War Infor,mation, The Negroes' Role in the War: A Study of White and Colored Opinions (Memorandum 59, Surveys Division, Bureau of Special Services), 8 Jul 43, in CMH.
62Special Services Division, "What the Soldier Thinks, " Number 2, August 1943, pp. 58-59, SSD 291.2.
63Dollard and Young, "In the Armed Forces," p. 68.
64New York Times, December 2, 1943.
65Gibson, a lawyer and a graduate of the University of Chicago, became Judge Hastie's assistant in 1940. After Hastie's resignation on 29 January 1943, Gibson served as acting civilian aide and assumed the position permanently on 21 September 1943. See Memo, ASW for Admin Asst (John W. Martyn), 21 Sep 43, ASW 291.2 NT-Civ Aide.
66Memo, Gibson to ASW, 3 Nov 43, ASW 291.2 NT. See also New York Times, December 2, 1943.
67For discussion of Gibson's attitude and judgments, see Interv, author with Evans, 3 Jun 73.
68Memo, Chmn, Advisory Cmte, for CofS, 3 Jul 43, sub: Negro Troops, ASW 291.2 NT. This was not sent until 6 July.
69Memo, CofS for CG, AAF, et al. 13 Jul 43, sub: Negro Troops, WDCSA 291.21.
70Memo, Advisory Cmte for CofS 16 Mar 43, sub: Inflammatory Publications, ASW 291.2 NT Cmte Memo, CG, 4th Service Cmd, ASP, to CG, ASP, 12 Jul 43, sub: Disturbances Among Negro Troops, with attached note initialed by Gen Marshall WDCSA 291.2 (12 Jul 43).
71Memo, J. J. McC (John J. McCloy) for Gen Marshall, 21 Jul 43, with attached note signed "GCM," ASW 291.2 NT.
72Min of Mtg of Advisoq Cmte on Negro Troop Policies, 29 Feb 44, ASW 291.2 Negro Troops Cmte; Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 449-50.
73Memo, ASW for SW, 2 Mar44, inclosing formal recommendations, WDCSA 291.2/13 Negroes (1944).
74Pogue, Organizer of Victory, p. 99.
75Memo, CG, AGE, for CG,s,
Second Army, et al., n.d., sub: Efficiency Ratings of Commanders of Negro
units Scheduled for Overseas Shipment, GNGAP-L 201.61/9.
76WD PAM 20-6, Command of Negro Troops, 29 Feb 44.
77The Army Service Forces published a major supplement to War Department Pamphlet 20-6 in October 1944, see Army Service Forces Manual M-5, Leadership and the Negro Soldier.
78Ltr, TAG to CG, AAF, et al., 8 Jul 44, sub: Recreational Facilities, AG 353.8 (5 Jul 44) OB-S-A-M.
79Actually, the use of officers, clubs by black troops was clearly implied if not ordained in paragraph 19 of Army Regulation 210-10, 20 December 1940, which stated that any club operating on federal property must be open to an officers assigned to the post, camp, Or station. For more on the Freeman Field incident, see Chapter 5, below.
80Memo, Secy, Advisory Cmte, for Advisory Cmte on Special Troop Policies, 13 Jun 45, sub Minutes of Meeting, ASW 291.2 NT.
81Ltr, Actg SW to Gov. Chauncey Sparks of Alabama, I Sep 44, WDCSA 291.2 (26 Aug 44).
82Ltr, ASW to Herbert B. Elliston, Editor, Washington Post, 5 Aug 43, ASW 291.2 NT (Gen).
83Ltr, USW to Roane Waring, National Cmdr, American Legion, 5 May 43, SW 291.2 NT. Integrated hospitals did not appear until 1943. See Robert J. Parks, "The Development of Segregation in U.S. Army Hospitals, 1940-1942," Military Affairs 37 (December 1973): 145-50.
84Ltr, ASW to SecNav, 22 Aug 45, ASW 291.2 NT (Gen).
85Ltr, William Hastie to Lee Nichols, 15 Jul 53, in Nichols Collection, CMH; see also Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 15-00; Army War College Misc File 127-1 through 127-22, AMHRC.
86As published in Mobilization Regulation 1-2 (1938 and May 1939 versions), par. 11d, and 15 Jul 39 version, par. 1 3b.
87Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, p. 50.
88TAG Ltr, 26 Apr 41, AG 352 (4-10-41) M-M-C.
89Davis, "History of a Special Section Office of the Inspector General."
90Eleven of these were candidates at the Infantry School, 2 at the Field Artillery School, 7 at the Quarter master School, and 1 each at the Cavalry, Ordnance, and Finance Schools. Memo, TAG for Admin Asst, OSW, 16 Sep 41, sub Request Of the Civ Aide to the SW for Data Relative to Negro Soldiers, AG 291.21 (9-12-41) M; Memo, TAG for Civ Aide to SW, 18 Nov 41, sub Request for Data Relative to Negro Soldiers Admitted to OCS, AG 291.21 (10-30-41) RB.
91Ltr, Hastie to sw, 8 May 41, ASW 291.2 NT.
92Memo, ACotS, G-3, for CofS, 12 May 41, sub Negro Officers; Memo, ACofS, G-3, for ACofS, GCol Wharton), 12 Jun 41, same sub. Both in WDGOT 291.2.
93Pogue, Organizer of Victory, p. 96.
94Memo, Hastie for ASW, 5 sep 41, G-l/15640-120; Ltr, Hastie to Nichols, 15 Jul 53; Tab C to AG 320.2 (11- 24 - 42).
95Telg, Walter White, NAACP, to SW and President Roosevelt, 23 Oct 41, AG 291.21 (10-23-41) (3) Ltr, Edgar w. Grown to President Roosevelt and SW, 15 Oct 41, AG 291.2 (10-15-41) (I). see also Memo, ACofS, G-3, for CofS, 23 Oct 41, sub Negro Officer Candidate Schools, G-3 /43276.
96Ltr, Horace Wilkinson to Rep. John J. Sparkman (Alabama), 24 Aug 43, Ltr, TAG to Rep. John Starnes (Alabama), 15 Sep 43. Both in AG 095 (Wilkinson) (28 Aug 43). See also Interv, Nichols with Ulysses Lee, 1953.
97Ltr, SGS to sent Carl Hayden (Arizona), 12 Dec 41, AG 352 (12-12-41). see also Memo, ACofS, G-3, for Cots, 23 Oct 41, sub: Negro Officer Candidate Schools, G-3 /43276.
98Dollard and Young, ``In the Armed Forces."
99Memos, Hastie for ASW, 4 Nov 42 and 15 Dec 42; Ltr, Maj Gen A. D. Bruce, Cmdr, Tank Destroyer Center, to ASW, 31 oec 42. All in ASW 291.2 NT (12-2-42).
100For a detailed discussion, see Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, Chapter XXII.
101Ltr, Lt Gen John C. H. Lee to Commanders of Colored Troops, come, 26 Dec 44, sub: Volunteers for Training and Assignment as Reinforcements, AG 322X353XSGS.
102Revised version of above, same date. Copies of both versions in CMH. Later General Eisenhower stated that he had decided to employ the men "as individuals," but the evidence is clear that he meant platoons in 1944, see Ltr, D.D.E. to Gen Bruce C. Clarke, 29 May 63, in CMH.
103The 92d Division was assigned to the Mediterranean theater.
104Davis, "History of a Special Section Office of the Inspector General, " p. 19.
105ETO I&E Div Rpt E-118, Research Br, The Utilization of Negro Infantry Platoons in White Companies, Jun 45; ASP I&E Div Rpt B-157, Opinions About Negro Infantry Platoons in White Companies of Seven Divisions, 3 Jul 45. For a general critique of black performance in World War 11, see Chapter 5 below.
106Memo, CG, ASF, to ASW, 11 Jul 45, ASW 291.2 NT.
107The percentage of high school graduates and men scoring in AGCT categories I, II, and III among the black infantry volunteers was somewhat higher than that of all Negroes in the European theater. As against 22 percent high school graduates and 29 percent in the first three test score categories for the volunteers, the percentages for all Negroes in the theater were 18 and 17 percent. At the same time the averages for black volunteers were considerably below those for white riflemen, of whom 41 percent were high school graduates and 71 percent in the higher test categories—figures that tend to refute the general's argument. See ASF l&E Div Rpt B-157, 3 Jul 45.
108Msg, Hq ComZ, ETO, Paris, France (signed Bradley), to WD 3 Jul 45. For similar reports from the field see, for example, Ltr, Brig Gen R.B. Lovett, ETO AG, to TAG, 7 Sep 45, sub: The Utilization of Negro Platoons in White Companies; Ltr, Hq USFET to TAG, 24 Oct 45, same sub. Both in AG 291.2 (1945).
109Memo, CofS for ASW, 25 Aug 45, WDCSA 291.2 Negroes (25 Aug 45).
110Ltr, ASW to SecNav, 22 Aug 45, ASW 291.2 NT (Gen).
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