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You're right, I was thinking contemporary figures of a quarter billion inhabitants.

While we are on the topic of minority service, and have you on the line, is it correctly perceived that there are one or more native Canadian groups enjoying one type of special status or other? I mean, were inuits accepted for service/drafted? How about other groups, any special rules?

Cheerio

Dandelion

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African American soldiers comprised between 6 and 9 percent of the Army during World War II (6 percent in 1942, almost 9 percent in 1945). In 1942, 48 percent of African-American soldiers were assigned to the Service Forces; by 1945, that figure had increased to 75 percent. In 1945, African American soldiers made up 44 percent of the Quartermaster Corps, 33 percent of the Transportation Corps, and 20 percent of the Corps of Engineers – the three branches with the highest number of unskilled labor jobs. Percentages in the combat arms ranged from 1 to 5 percent in 1945, although they were higher in earlier years.

Among the ways African American soldiers were directed into service units was through the use of standardized tests. In the early 1940s, levels of education for African American males lagged far behind their white counterparts, although there had been significant gains since World War I. Partly as a result, African American recruits tended to score lower on the Army General Classification Test. Educational levels don’t explain everything, however; the conditions under which the tests were given and the attitudes of the testers also varied according to race.

One result of this process was that 33 percent of African American registrants were classified as 4-F compared to only 16 percent for white registrants. Almost all of the difference was attributable to failure to meet minimum educational requirements.

Few distinctions were made among African American soldiers, however, when assigning them to units. Those who were high school graduates were assigned to about the same branches as those with only a grade school graduation.

The proportion inducted among African Americans of military age was also substantially lower for those living in the South than those living in the North.

Note too that starting in 1944, the percentage of African American soldiers serving overseas as a portion of their total strength was higher than the number of white soldiers.

The preceding information is from Stouffer et al., The American Soldier, vol. I, pp. 489-502.

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Originally posted by Dandelion:

And the UK issue has been only partially illuminated. What did they hear when appearing before the recruiter?

A couple of links that might give something of the flavour of the times:

http://www.mb007a2628.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/gis.htm

http://www.blackpresence.co.uk/pages/armed_forces/ww2.htm

While there may have been a deal of private racial prejudice in British society during WW2, the legal position was one of equality before the law (even in South Africa, Apartheid did not become law until after WW2). The links above make it fairly clear that many in the UK were unpleasantly surprised by the racism evident in the US Army's treatment of black GIs.

As has been mentioned previously, British society included many fewer members of the "visible minorities" before the Empire Windrush immigration. There was more in the way of obvious racial segregation in overseas possessions; I think it is James Lucas' "The British Soldier" that mentions that Port Said railway station had something like thirteen separate lavatories, for such categories as British officers, British other ranks, female Britsh officers, female British other ranks, Indian officers, Indian other ranks, and so on and so forth. The Indian Army was, of course, a completely separate organisation from the British Army, although British battalions were brigaded with Indian Army battalions, and British officers were commissioned into the Indian Army (often regarding themselves as professionally superior to the British Army officers who looked down on them socially).

All the best,

John.

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AFAIK, NZ had a policy of segregation in the armed forces, though I think it was a bit more complex that "you're black so you can't fight for us". IIRC, it had to do with issues of soverignty, independance, and fighting for a foreign King.

Anyway, trhe upshot was that most NZ Army units were all-white, with the obvious exception being 28 (Maori) Bn. Chapter 1 of that book should outline things in a bit more detail if you're of a mind to delve into it.

That policy ended shortly after WWII, and the NZ Army has been throughly integrated ever since, and a far better force for it.

As an aside, while training with the Aussie Army a few years ago I couldn't help noticing that it was an overwhelmingly European force. That is without doubt due to 'soft' factors rather than any official policy, but it was very strange. In one particular unit, there was a single Aboriginal - and he was the only guy to offer me a brew!

Regards

JonS

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Originally posted by Dandelion:

You're right, I was thinking contemporary figures of a quarter billion inhabitants.

While we are on the topic of minority service, and have you on the line, is it correctly perceived that there are one or more native Canadian groups enjoying one type of special status or other? I mean, were inuits accepted for service/drafted? How about other groups, any special rules?

Cheerio

Dandelion

Inuit were called Eskimos then, and it probably never occurred to anyone to draft them, but I would have to research it - never gave it a thought, personally.

Native soldiers in Canada, like in the US, were stereotypically thought to be good scouts and sharpshooters. In World War One, some of our highest ranking snipers were Natives (true snipers , using telescopic sights and spotters). I don't know if this was the chicken and the egg or not - were they good because they were Indians, or were they put into the position because they were Indian and therefore considered to be good as a result of that? I honestly don't know.

Tommy Prince was our most famous Native soldier; he served in the Devil's Brigade in WW II, won the MM and the American Silver Star, and returned to the Army for Korea. Like many Natives, and war vets in general, he turned to drink after his wars and never adjusted to civil life.

Farley Mowat refers to an Indian in his unit who had worked for the CPR, so everyone called him "Steam Injun". It was fashionable for whites in the Canadian and US Armies to mock racial minorities. I remember growing up with Ukrainian jokes, an offshoot of the Polish jokes that were de rigeur in past generations.

Different times.

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Jon there wasn't a policy of segregation as such in the NZ army.

However in WW1 and before it was not seen as "acceptable" for Maori to be fighting against European enemies.

In WW2 it was a Maori demand that the Maori Bn be solely Maori - not a racial policy on the part of the Govt - see http://www.nzetc.org/etexts/WH2Maor/c1.html.

the Maori saw the need for a European commander, but insisted that all other officers could be recruited from Maori veterans from the WW1 pioneer Bn and serving territorials, etc - they were not anti-white so much as pro-Maori. However the Govt got its way and senior officers were mostly Pakeha at formation.

There were already Maori and part Maori officers & NCO's in the regular army.

[ October 05, 2004, 07:32 PM: Message edited by: Mike ]

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Speaking of CMAK omissions and East Africa, I was reading up on the 1940 Somaliland campaign and saw that there were MarkVIB tanks due from India [crewed by Indians, that is, as far as I can tell], as well as some Scottish troops, but they didn't make it in time to defend Berbera. So the Italians got Somaliland and the MarkVIB got left out of CMAK until the North Africa campaigns. I'd use an alternative but there are none.

http://www.battlefront.co.nz/Article.asp?ArticleID=116&hl=somaliland

Note: This is a different Battlefront---they make miniatures.

[ October 07, 2004, 05:11 PM: Message edited by: Dave Stockhoff ]

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I am so happy to see a positive conversation on the realities of African American soldiers in WW2. I thought I would have to respond with some answers, but I am glad many grogs came with very good answers.

I am a member of the board of directors of the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum here in Houston, Tx. In the museum we try to preserve, promote, and perpetuate the history, tradition, and outstanding contributions of African Americans toward the defense of the US.

So Dandelion, if you need so info, let me know. And the Buffalo Soldiers scenario is okay, glad it was made, but would love to see more. The man who is the focus of that scenario is a personal hero of mine.

BigMik1

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Originally posted by Dandelion:

You're right, I was thinking contemporary figures of a quarter billion inhabitants.

While we are on the topic of minority service, and have you on the line, is it correctly perceived that there are one or more native Canadian groups enjoying one type of special status or other? I mean, were inuits accepted for service/drafted? How about other groups, any special rules?

Cheerio

Dandelion

You know what, there were some groups like the Mennonites, Hutterites and Quakers who got deferments, IIRC. Some of them were ethnic Germans, there are still Hutterite colonies here where German is the primary tongue. That wasn't the reason though, they were deferred on account of religious beliefs; they were also strong farmers, so I suppose it made sense to keep them on the land - if that was the official reasoning or not, I don't know.
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A couple of years ago I found a book entitled 'Our War', about the different minorities in the British armed forces. Unfortunatly it is out of print but it had fantastic photos and first hand accounts from veterans. Most of the stories abotu 90% recall being treated extremely well in wartime Britain. One story sticks out in my mind was the Sikh RAF pilot who was allowed to skip to front of lines because of his status. He even talks about the RAF really trying to find him a special helmet to accomodate his turban. By the Dorosh, I would love to see that photo of the Black Canadian in a kilt.

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As someone else observed the black population of Great Britain was much lower then than now, but I'm not sure how many folks from the West Indies volunteered for service and what capacities they served in.

EDIT: stopped being a lazy bugger and did a bit of searching and found this....

http://www.mgtrust.org/index.htm

Which is all about the contribution made by the West Indies,Africa and India to Britains war effort in WWII. Suffice it to say they made a major contribution ranging from combat roles through to logistics.

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Originally posted by BigMik1:

I am so happy to see a positive conversation on the realities of African American soldiers in WW2. I thought I would have to respond with some answers, but I am glad many grogs came with very good answers.

I am a member of the board of directors of the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum here in Houston, Tx. In the museum we try to preserve, promote, and perpetuate the history, tradition, and outstanding contributions of African Americans toward the defense of the US.

So Dandelion, if you need so info, let me know. And the Buffalo Soldiers scenario is okay, glad it was made, but would love to see more. The man who is the focus of that scenario is a personal hero of mine.

BigMik1

Nice sig BigMik1...

and while we're on the topic of African Americans' service in the US Forces, don't forget the bunch collectively known as the Tuskegee Airmen who developed an impressive history once they were permitted to fly.

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Originally posted by SpitfireXI:

I would love to see that photo of the Black Canadian in a kilt.

I don't think this is WWII-related, but I once heard a story that due to unexpected mortalities the lairdship of one of the branches of the Clan Campbell devolved on the line of a younger son who had moved to Nigeria and married a local. Consequently the Laird of that particular branch was a black Nigerian easily recognizable at formal clan gatherings. In all fairness, the story was related to me by a malicious Sassenach who was in his cups.

A bit more on topic, weren't there Gurkha units in Italy and North Africa ? They were a bit like the Moroccan Goumiers, but with a special (and terrifying) predeliction for hand-to-hand combat with their traditional weapon, for which they had an elaborate (and unauthorized) weapons drill.

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On related note, how about some female faces to represent rear area Russian troops or maybe later war German AA gunners? I *think* females were used quite frequently in such roles and could have been exposed to ground combat. Anyone have some sources on this?

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Originally posted by Philippe:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by SpitfireXI:

I would love to see that photo of the Black Canadian in a kilt.

I don't think this is WWII-related, but I once heard a story that due to unexpected mortalities the lairdship of one of the branches of the Clan Campbell devolved on the line of a younger son who had moved to Nigeria and married a local. Consequently the Laird of that particular branch was a black Nigerian easily recognizable at formal clan gatherings. In all fairness, the story was related to me by a malicious Sassenach who was in his cups.

A bit more on topic, weren't there Gurkha units in Italy and North Africa ? They were a bit like the Moroccan Goumiers, but with a special (and terrifying) predeliction for hand-to-hand combat with their traditional weapon, for which they had an elaborate (and unauthorized) weapons drill. </font>

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Originally posted by poppy':

In 1957 I was going through tech training in Memphis Tenn and one of the most infuriating confrontations that I have ever had was when on the way back to the navel base the bus driver over my objections ordered a black sailor to the back of the bus and me a white sailor to the front of the bus. I have never forgotten this experience.

Read Colin Powell's book. (written post General days/before Sec of State days) In the early 60's as a young US Army Officer he suffered some of the same indignities in the south. We've come along way here in the states but still a ways to go.
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Originally posted by Vixen:

On related note, how about some female faces to represent rear area Russian troops or maybe later war German AA gunners? I *think* females were used quite frequently in such roles and could have been exposed to ground combat. Anyone have some sources on this?

The Russians used women as tank crew and snipers in combat for certain. There are pictures of these not just references.

The Germans did use women in the AA units and as clerks in rear areas as well. I know of at least once instance when the German women got into the front lines. They were in a truck that was ambushed by an American tank unit. They were all killed within a moment never knowing what hit them. This was during the battle for the Ruhr Pocket. As the Allied armies advanced in the Flak Belt they would have encountered German women in combat. They also encountered boys as young as eight.

Good Hunting.

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There is a new book on the 761st Tank Battalion. It was done by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton. It's called Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes. Here is a summary of the book:

Brothers in Arms recounts the extraordinary story of the 761st Black Panthers, the first all-black armored unit to see combat in World War II.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar first learned about the battalion from family friend Leonard "Smitty" Smith, a veteran of the battalion. Working with acclaimed writer Anthony Walton, Abdul-Jabbar interviewed the surviving members of the battalion and their descendants to weave together a narrative based on their memories and stories, from basic training through the horrors on the battlefield to their postwar experiences in a racially divided America.

Trained essentially as a public relations gesture to maintain the support of the black community for the war, the battalion was never intended to see battle. In fact, General Patton originally opposed their deployment, claiming African Americans couldn't think quickly enough to operate tanks in combat conditions. But the Allies were so desperate for trained tank personnel in the summer of 1944, following heavy casualties in the fields of France, that the battalion was called up.

While most combat troops fought on the front for a week or two before being rotated back, the men of the 761st served for more than six months, fighting heroically under Patton's Third Army at the Battle of the Bulge and in the Allies' final drive across France and Germany. Despite a casualty rate that approached 50 percent and an extreme shortage of personnel and equipment, the 761st would ultimately help liberate some 30 towns and villages, as well as the Gunskirchen Lager concentration camp.

The racism that shadowed them during the war and the prejudice they faced upon their return home is an indelible part of their story. What shines through most of all, however, are the lasting bonds that united them as soldiers and brothers, the bravery they exhibited on the battlefield, and the quiet dignity and patriotism that defined their lives.

BigMik1
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Brothers in Arms is a very good read.

It is a remarkable story about a group of men who did great things despite the fact that almost everyone in power believed them to be sub-standard, and sometimes even sub-human.

While Brothers in Arms clearly wasn't written with the intention of being the kind of detailed tactical unit history that grogs love so much, it does have some very interesting tactical tidbits about how a late war US Army Tank actually deployed and fought.

So it's great social and military history. What more could you ask for??

IIRC, the book also mentions in passing a couple of other all-black combat units that were formed and actually saw combat before the end of the war.

As far as 761st scenarios for CM, there are some interesting engagements recounted in Brothers in Arms that could be made into CM scenarios. I actually had this very idea myself while I was reading it, but since the book is not a detailed tactical history, you would need additional sources to do things right. Unfortunately, I lack the references for this kind of thing. . .

Cheers,

YD

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The short answer is, probably yes.

Unfortunately, getting your hands on that kind of stuff takes a bit of work an patience. Someday, I'll have time for projects like that. . .

IIRC, a couple of other works have been written about the 761st. I think one of them was called "Come out Fighting" or something like that. I'd like to get my hands on it.

I don't know if any of these sources actually contained detailed enough info about terrain, OOB and tactical engagement to actually create an historical scenario as an official unit history certainly would.

You could definitely get enough stuff out of Brothers in Arms to do some decent "Semi-historical" scenarios. The battalion basically drove 76mm Shermans, with M5A1 lights in the recon company, and Sherman 105s in the Arty platoon, for its entire service. Brothers in Arms gives enough of an idea about the numbers of tanks involved in specific engagements, as well approximate composition of accompanying infantry, and basic description of enemy forces and terrain to do "inspired by historical events" type scenarios.

Cheers,

YD

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On a related note, are there any scenarios in CMAK or CMBO that deal with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (= Nisei-American Regiment) ? Reading about these troops is pretty heartbreaking when you realize that back home many of their families had been packed off to concentration camps (in Arizona or New Mexico, or some place like that).

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Originally posted by Philippe:

On a related note, are there any scenarios in CMAK or CMBO that deal with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (= Nisei-American Regiment) ? Reading about these troops is pretty heartbreaking when you realize that back home many of their families had been packed off to concentration camps (in Arizona or New Mexico, or some place like that).

There are two of them. One is called "For the familiy honor" by Rune and it came with the CD. The other is called "Proof of Honor" by Jwxspoon and is currently being played in the ROW IV finals.
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