Sunday, March 21, 2010

92nd Division - Black Infantry Regiments

The combat record of the Infantry regiments in the 92nd Division finally showed even the most ardent racist that segregated units with White officers were not effective. One reason the Army high command supported integration in 1948. From The Marshall papers:

To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

February 14, 1945 Radio No. F-26834. Rome(?), Italy

Top Secret, Eyes Only

The 92nd Division, holding 22 miles on the left of the Fifth Army front in ITALY, has been given a final tryout in a 3 day local offensive, heavily supported by air, plentiful ammunition and tanks. It met little opposition in most parts of the front but the Infantry literally dissolved each night abandoning equipment and even clothing in some cases. The Artillery appears excellent, also the Engineers, and other divisional troops. The command and staff are superior. But as matters now stand, the division is not only of little value but weakens the front by necessitating the putting of other divisions in rear to provide the necessary security against a local German thrust through to LEGHORN and supply lines, divisions that should be otherwise disposed in the center of the Army.

We cannot afford this wastage of effort and jeopardy of the front, therefore, I am proposing the reorganization of one negro Infantry regiment from the pick of the three; the assignment to the division of a converted (White) anti-aircraft regiment here with additional selected personnel. A third Infantry regiment of dependable quality is urgently required. Could you possibly spare the Japanese regiment to be transferred without equipment, utilizing transportation otherwise returning from MARSEILLES empty after movement of Canadians. This would give us a useful divisional weapon capable of strong thrusts. Address reply to reach my EYES ONLY in WASHINGTON Friday night.

As a result the 92nd Division went back into action with 1 Japanese-American Infantry Regiment, 1 white Infantry Regiment, and 1 Black Regiment (made up of the best from the original 3). The other two Black regiments were used as "security" and "engineers".

Meanwhile, 2,500 black volunteers were doing an excellent job in integrated infantry platoons in the ETO.

No comments: