6888th Facts

“IT IS NOT ABOUT BEING RIGHT OR WRONG, IT IS ABOUT BEING ACCURATE!”   

Updated 23 February 2022 


HELP CELEBRATE THE 6888th 
FACTS AND INTERESTING TIDBITS ABOUT THE 6888th  

Frequent conflicting and interesting information

Major Dominic Johnson, USA (Ret)  
 

Strongly recommend each person research for themselves! 

PROBLEM: Often times conflicting comments, information and data are contained in speeches, books and print media that do not match official records. Where possible we have cited some of these key issues, and provided references to support each. However, the final decision whether to use this information below is up to the writer and/or speaker. It is not who is RIGHT, but what is CORRECT! 

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  1. 7 million or 17 million the number of letters the 6888th sorted/redirected?

  2. 6888th was comprised of ALL the Black WACs in the army this group included Hispanic and Puerto Rican.

  3. The number of individuals assigned to the 6888th--enlisted plus officers is 817 vs 855.

  4. The 6888th was the only WAC unit, White or Black, Deployed overseas.

  5. The First WAC unit deployed overseas? The Black unit deployed overseas?

  6. There 6888th was the first Postal Battalion in the army. There was a white postal unit.

  7. The 6888th Broke records sorting, repackaging and redistributing letters and parcels.

  8. The 6888th remained in the European Theater of Operations from 2 Feb until departed Le Havre France on 2 Mar 46 and arrived at New York on 8 Mar 46.According to the Army’s Data Card for the unit its mission in the Communications Zone in France began 4 Mar 1945 and ended 15 Feb 1946. (See attached Women’s Army Museum Letter dated 8/7/2020

Who were the Primary Advocates for women serving in the Army?

  • First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.
     

 

When was the Women Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) formed?

Bill created in May 1941.

  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Bill into Law on May 15, 1942.

  • May 16, 1942 Oveta Culp Hobby sworn in as the first WAAC Director

  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation, July 1, 1943 dropping the word Auxiliary and renaming the women the Woman Army Corps (WAC). Giving women all the rank,

 

When and how the 6888th was formed

  1. LTC Charity Adams, the FIRST of Three Commanding Officer of the 6888th: basically, described it in her book. “The bottom line, they were drawn across from 26 locations across the united states. But there is no room on the monument to list all the locations.”

  2. In November 1944, despite the slow recruitment of volunteers, a battalion of eight hundred and seventeen (later eight hundred and twenty-four) enlisted personnel and thirty-one officers, all African American women drawn from the WACs, the Army Service Forces, and the Army Air Forces, was created which was eventually designated as the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The 6888th battalion was trained for their overseas mission at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. http://www.blackpast.org/aah/6888th-central-postal-directory-battalion-1945-1946

Who was the first Black Woman Commissioned in the Women Army Auxiliary Corps?

(Page 43, in Charity Adams’ book One Woman’s Army, was the first African-American woman to be commissioned into the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, on 29 Aug 1942. “I was very happy on that day. The fact that I had been the first Negro woman to receive a commission in the WAAC was nearly as impressive as the fact the we had arrived… There was a historic change that took place at our graduation. Traditionally, at army graduations exercises the candidates are presented according to the company roster, which is the way were listed in the program. For our graduation the class was presented by platoons, which meant that The Third Platoon, the “colored girls,’ came last in the First Company.” My name was Adams and, alphabetically, I would have been the first WAAC officer to be commissioned (In the history of the Army). An official copy of that Graduation Program we believe support Charity’s claim provided in a separate document. Both files are too large to send as one attachment.)

What was the size of the 6888th; Officers and Enlisted:

Most common answer: 824 Enlisted, 31 Officers. Some writings from 6888th members say there was 32.

NOTE: Our researcher has found the names of 32 officers assigned to the 6888th.

Other Press Releases:

I have seen varying numbers for the members of the 6888th across the board. I have press releases that say 738 women plus 23 officers; another article says 677 women plus 24 officers; and then I have an unofficial history that says 824 women plus 31 officers. I would assume that last one accounts for your 855, which would include the officers. Ali Kolleda, Archivist, U.S. Army Women's Museum.

Integration of WACs into the Regular Army

Congressional Bills to establish the WAC as a permanent part of the Army were introduced in Congress in 1946, 1947 and 1948, when the Women's Armed Services Integration Act finally passed. 1948. Mr. Dominic Johnson, researcher

FALSE: The 6888th was the only All Black Women Arm unit deployed overseas during WWII. The 6888th was not the only Black unit deployed during World War II, The Black nurses (not a WAC unit) were deployed to Liberia in 1943, and a group of Black Nurses also landed in the European Theater of Operations on 15 Aug 1944.

 

The 6888th was the only WAC unit Deployed to Europe during WWII

Not True: White WACs were deployed to every theater of operations. The first WAC unit sent overseas was the 149th Post Headquarters Company, which was sent to North Africa in 1943. Again, the 6888th was the first and only Black WAC unit sent overseas. Ali Kolleda, Archivist, U.S. Army Women's Museum.

The 6888th was the only All Black Women (WAC Unit) deployed overseas during WWII.

 

TRUE: They were the FIRST and ONLY All Black WAC unit deployed overseas. A Black Female nursing were deployed to Liberia in 1943, but they are not a WAC unit. When talking and writing about the 6888th their Army Branch (Women Army Corps) should be included. It is not correct to say that the “6888th is the only all Black Female Army Unit (Their Branch of

Service should be injected) to be deployed overseas during WWII.” Without WACs being included the reader does not know whether these women were part of the Air Corps, Service Corps, Artillary Corps, JAG Corps etc.).

1. Deployed from FEB 1945 to MAR 1946.

2. Arrived in England late in the evening on Feb 12, 1945 by train from Glasgow Scotlant. PAGE 138, Charity Adams’ book, One Woman’s Army. Attached is an article of the Ft Hauchua Paper saying they arrived on 12 Feb 1945. 3. Stationed in: Birmingham, England, Rouen, France and Paris, France.

4. Clear up 2-3-year Mail Backlogs in these locations.

5. Mail stored in Aircraft hangars size Warehouses, old manufacturing plants and buildings.

FALSE: The 6888th Sorted 7 million pieces of mail.

This is written in several writings we have researched. This is incorrect. The number 7 million is mentioned twice in Charity Adams’ book.

  1. Page 148: The estimated number of personnel in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) “Only the War Department knew the exact number. Checking the number the CAC Historian at a Fort researched the records. Seven Million is the total number of US Personnel paerticipating in WWII, Of this number approximately three million was in the ETO>

  2. Page 149: The number of names in the Postal Tracking Files/Directory. This number contains some duplications because each military personnel and other individuals were required to manually update and send in their location changes each time they moved. For some this would have several times a day. The actual number of letters and parcels sorted by the 6888th was closer to 17.5 million over the three-month period while in England . See below page 149 from Charity’s book, One Woman’s Army:

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Charity Adams Book

One Woman's Army

(page 149)

The 6888th Broke All Records Sorting, Repackaging and Redistributing letters and Parcels. Ref Charity’s book One Woman’s Army, 1st paragraph page 151, Charity wrote: “I quote from a booklet, The WAC, endorsed by Lt. Col. Anna W. Wilson, European Theater of Operations

WAC Staff Director, written late in 1945: “The 6888th Central Postal Directory Bn, first Negro WACs to be sent overseas, were assigned to the First Post Office in February 1945. The unit broke all records for redirecting mail.”

 

Supporting this statement is this caption from the back of a photo I obtained from the National Achieves in Maryland during my late March 2018 visit there. The photos shows other postal units members with large mail bags around them sorting mail in Dec 1944, two months before the 6888th (10) At the completion of their mission in FEBRUARY 1946, the remaing 189 members departed La Harve, France on MARCH 02, 1946 AND ARRIVED IN NEW YORK on MARCH 09, 1946. States. The 6888th was discontinued on March 9, 1946, at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

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Charity Adams Book 

One Woman's Army

(page 151)

The 17 million-plus pieces of mail sorted and redirected by the 6888th on pertains only to their 3-month stay in Birmingham, England. That number is also an extrapolation based on the numbers given in the below references. They state that each of the three 8-hour shifts sorted and redirected an average 65,000 pieces

a. US Army Center of Military History Article dated 12 March 2015. Refer to the link below. https://history.army.mil/html/topics/afam/6888thPBn/index.html.

b. LTC Charity Adams's (6888th Commanding Officer) book: One Woman's Army, A Black Officer Remembers The War; 1980, page 151, para 2, states: " The unit broke all records for redirecting mail/ "...three...eight-hour shifts averaged MORE THAN 65,000 pieces of mail. (See page 151 Above)

Notes: LTC Adams quoted from a booklet endorsed by, LTC Anna W. Wilson, European Theater of Operations WAC Staff Director. LTC Wilson was in a position to know and would not have endorsed something that was not true. .

c. In Birmingham, England the ladies worked 24 hours a day, in eight-hour shifts.

d. US Army Center of Military History Article para 9: states: Each shift sorted 65,000 pieces of mail, the same figures used in LTC Charity Adams’ book. Thus:

e. EXTRAPOLATION:

(1) Each shift: 65,000 X 3 Shifts-----------------195,000 per day.

(2) 195,000 X 90 days In England)-------------17,550,000 divided by 3 months equal =5,850,000.

** The 6888th arrived in Feb 1945 and left in early May 1945 for Rouen, France 3-months—90 days.

** 17 million does not include the number of letters sorted and redirected in Rouen and Paris.

Comments: Hopefully, citing official/primary sources and military documentation give credibility to what the numbers seven million and 17 million numbers represent. But as always, it is the responsibility of the writer/user to do their own verification and research.

There were countless African American units serving across the United States. Maj Harriet West was in charge of ensuring the correct treatment of these units. Her files here list dozens of units. The most well-known are the two at Fort Huachuca, AZ, but the one you mentioned in your last email was at Fort Devens. There were others at Fort Knox, Camp Bragg, and so on. Ali Kolleda, Archivist, U.S. Army Women's Museum.

 

 

Installations Where Black WAC units served during World War II (Not All Inclusive)

  1. Amarillo Army Air Field, Texas 

  2. Camp Beale, California

  3. Camp Forrest, Tennessee

  4. Camp Maxey, Texas

  5. Camp Stoneman, California 

  6. Douglas Army Air Field, Arizona

  7. Fort Benning, Georgia

  8. Fort Bragg, North Carolina

  9. Fort Des Moines, Iowa

  10. Fort Devens, Massachusetts

  11. Fort Huachuca, Arizona 

  12. Fort Jackson, South Carolina 

  13. Fort Knox, Kentucky

  14. Fort McClellan, Alabama

  15. Walla Walla Army Air Field, Washington

  16. Gardiner General Hospital, Illinois

  17. Halloran General Hospital, New York

  18. Thomas E. England General Hospital, New Jersey

  19. Wakeman General Hospital, Indiana

  20. Fort Ord, California

  21. Fort Riley, Kansas

  22. Fort Sheridan, Illinois

  23. Geiger Field, Washington

  24. Kearns Field, Utah

  25. Lemoore Army Air Field, California

  26. Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio

  27. Sioux City Army Air Base, Iowa

  28. Fort Lewis, Washington

  29. Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia

6888th and Black WACs Interesting Facts and Incident

1. Charity Adams was part of the Marksmanship team at Wilberforce University, Ohio.

2. Her Professor of Military Science was then Colonel B. O Davis, later became the FIRST Black Army General. He was assigned to the Wilberforce in that position several times.

3. The 6888th won both a softball and Basketball Championship.

4. The 6888th donated $4,503.70 to the United Negro College Fund. Page 185, One Woman’s Army

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5. The first all Black female unit deployed: Note; There was an all 404th, and the first African-American female medical (NOT A WAC unit) unit to deploy overseas with the 25th Station Hospital Unit to Liberia in 1943

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6. According to the writing on the back of the photo, the lady in the center is Marva Louis, Joe Louis’s first wife. They married twice. There is no record of her being in the Army. Based on the uniforms/hair it is thougt that they might be doing some type of recruitment promotion.

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Photo taken at Comiskey Park in Chicago, 1942??

(Joe Louis’ Wife-Marva in the Center.) Mrs. Louis was not in the Army This photo is not of Military Army Unit. We believe this to be a Publicity Event to recruit more Black Women.

8. The First Negro WAC to marry on Foreign Soil: "Chaplain William T. Green reads the benediction at the marriage ceremony of Pfc. Florence A. Collins, a WAC of the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion, to Cpl. William A. Johnson of the 1696th Labor Supervision Co. This is the first Negro marriage to be performed in the European Theater of Operations." Rouen, France. August 19, 1945."

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9. Three WACS were killed in an automobile accident while official duty when their jeep turned over. They wre: PFC Mary H. Bankston, PVT Mary J. Barlow, and SGT Debres Brown. The army did not funds to bury them, so the 6888th members took up a collection, and several members in the unit were familiar with mortuary duties.

NOTE: The daughter of the Second Couple to get married in Europe lives in Maryland and attended the 30 Nov 2018 6888th Monument Dedication at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

-6-

One WAC in uniform was beaten by policeman in Kentucky: Three African American members of the Women's Army Corps (WAC) were beaten by police officers for sitting in the waiting room for whites at the Greyhound bus station in Elizabethtown, KY. One of the women, PFC Helen Smith of Syracuse, NY, was taken to jail and released a few hours later, bleeding from her injuries. PFC Georgia Boson, from Texas, and Pvt. Tommie Smith, were also beaten. The women continued on their return to Fort Knox. When they arrived on base, they were summoned by the commanding officer, then lectured about obeying the supposed segregation laws of Kentucky pertaining to public buildings and transportation. The women were court-martialed. They were defended by Lieutenant W. Robert Ming, base legal officer at Godman Field under Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. The charges were later reduced to disorderly conduct

 

 

10.BLACK WACS COURTS MARTIALEDDid not Signed Up to Be Hospital Orderlies (See Article Below) When the Black women enlisted they expected to do the same jobs as the White WACs., but many in the army did not see things that way. One 98-year old living 6888th vet told me recently that although she was qualified to be a driver a White male soldier, even though he may not be a qualified driver. had to be in the vehicle when she drove.

Lovell General Hospital, Massachusetts (Where the Courts Martialed Incident Started)

New Book about 3 6888th Members Courts Martial. Another book: scheduled for release Apr The WACs court martialed at Fort Devens were assigned to the Lowell General Hospital there. You can see the attached newspaper articles below about them. There were dozens of black WAC units during the war, and they were never consolidated into one black unit. At the peak of the war, approximately 4,040 black WACs were serving and there were only ever between 800-900 in the 6888th. The 6888th wouldn't have been designated until the end of 1944/beginning of 1945. They left for England on February 3, 1945.

NOTES:

1. The article says there were four WACS courts martialed.

2. There is doubt that these ladies were assigned to the 6888th

 

 

The 6888th had already deployed to Europe in early Feb and arrived on Valentine’s Day, 12 Feb 1945. Do not believe These ladies were or would have been assigned to the unique 6888th unit.

 

Regarding the number assigned to the 6888th the number varies. Most common number is 855 (824 Enlisted and 31 Officers). As shown below Black WACs were stationed in many places around the country. To form the 6888th individual members were selected these commands to form the 6888th and go to Fort Oglethorpe, GA for training with gas masks and things for war. Normal WAC training did not include these areas.

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THE APACHE SENTINEL, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1945

FT Huachuca, AZ Paper Says the unit arrived late on 12 . 1945. The Il de Fleur ship that departed FT Shanks, NJ on 03 Feb 45, Landed in Glascow, Scotland earlier that day on 12 Feb 1945. This is a conflict I must resolve with Charity Adams’ book on page 138.

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Note: Ms. Patridge Brown’s mother, Ms P. Brown lives in Georgia and she and her family came to the 30 Nov 2018 Dedication. Records show that her mother enlisted in Tallahassee, Florida. The daughter is writing a book about her mother.

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SEE Separate Document—OFFICIAL PROGRAM FOR THE FIRST WAAC OFFICERs” CANDIDATE SCHOOL GRADUATION

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US Army MUC Permaent Order