All-Black, All-Female WWII Battalion To Receive Congressional Gold Medal – Our Time Press

“They never received a greeting,” said the daughter of one of the women.

By Deena Zaru
ABC News

An all-female, all-black battalion that served overseas in World War II is on the final leg of a long journey to finally gain recognition. National Archives and Records Administration
The only all-black, all-female battalion to serve in World War II in the United States and Europe is set to receive the Congressional Gold Medal after President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill into law on Monday.

Members of the 6888th Central Postal Battalion march in a parade honoring Jean D’Arc, France. The 6888th Central Postal Battalion was the only all-African American battalion in the WAC as well as the only all-African-American female battalion sent overseas during World War II. (National Archives and Records Administration)

The bill, which was co-sponsored by the entire New Hampshire delegation, aims to honor the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, known as the “Six Triple Eight” – a group of black women who lifted the spirits of millions of people sorting and delivering the mail. for US military and civilians in Europe and the United States.
ABC News has contacted the White House but it’s unclear when the ceremony will take place.

“We helped each other. We worked with each other,” retired Maj. Fanny Griffin McClendon, who served as a supervisor in the battalion, told ABC News last month after the Senate passed the bill, which now has was signed into law by Biden.
Only six members of the battalion are believed to be alive today, including 101-year-old McClendon.
“It never occurred to me that we would even be considered for a medal of any kind,” McClendon said.
The battalion returned from the war with little fanfare, but some have been advocating for the women of “Six Triple Eight” to be honored for years.
“They never had a parade, they never had a salute,” said Brenda Partridge-Brown, the daughter of Willie Bell Irvin, who served in the battalion.

Private Ruth L. James checks in soldiers at the gate during an ‘open house’ after the battalion sets up its facilities in Rouen, France. (National Archives and Records Administration)

Partridge-Brown told ABC News last month that she only learned her mother was in the battalion after a Google search 20 years after her mother’s death.
“I can’t explain to you what I felt that day. My heart almost stopped,” she said.
The battalion, created in 1944, eventually included 824 enlisted black women and 31 officers from the Women’s Army Corps, Army Service Forces, and Army Air Forces.
The battalion was created at a time when there was a shortage of trained postal officers and the mail was beginning to pile up, according to the US Army’s Center of Military History.

For example, in February 1945 in Birmingham, England, warehouses were filled with millions of undelivered pieces of mail.

WACs sort packages at the 17th base post office in Paris. The 6888th Central Postal Battalion was the only all-African American battalion in the WAC as well as the only all-African-American female battalion sent overseas during World War II. (National Archives and Records Administration)

“Servicemen noticed they weren’t getting mail from home, and Army officials reported that the lack of reliable mail delivery was hurting morale,” according to the Army’s Center of Military History. US, with a general predicting it would take six months to process a backlog of mail, including Christmas parcels.

It was then that the American army turned to the Women’s Army Corps, created in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Only white women were initially admitted, but following a push from first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights leader Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, black women were eventually admitted, although segregation continued. be continued, according to the ACMH.

As a result of recruiting efforts, the “Six Triple Eight” Battalion was created under the command of Major Charity Edna Adams, who would later become a Lieutenant Colonel and change her surname to Earley after her marriage.

The battalion trained at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia, according to the ACMH, and embarked on its first trip to Britain on Feb. 3, 1945.

The women endured harsh working conditions, including intense cold, and even faced racial prejudice and gendered treatment, including “hostility and personality-questioning rumors spread by soldiers white and black men who resented black women. Army,” according to the ACMH.

For Partridge-Brown, honoring women and their contributions to their country is long overdue.
“It just means the world to me to know that my mother’s service was not in vain,” she said.
ABC News’ Faith Abubey contributed to this report.

NEXT WEEK
Audrey Edwards: My mother was a member of the “Triple Eight”

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