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Thread: Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

  1. #1
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    Default Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

    Hi everyone,

    I was hoping that someone on here could answer some questions I have about the 599th Port Company (Transportation Company). Apparently it was an all-Black Army unit in England during WWII. My questions are: Could Puerto Ricans be considered "black" by 1940's standards? Would a Puerto Rican man have been promoted to Sergeant, or were minorities never promoted to higher ranks, even in all-black or asian units, etc? I really don't know much about this subject and I need to learn more because I am doing some research for a lady and don't have much to go on except for his name, rank and serial number. I've found two possible army enlistment records with two separate years of birth to look into. There is very little information on the 599th on the internet. If someone has a research book and could look into it for me, I'd appreciate it. The lady I'm helping never met her grandfather, since her mother was a "war baby". For some reason, mother and daughter never moved to the States from England, and the only thing she has to go on is the address on a letter he sent her Grandmother. Thanks in advance for any help.

    Francesca
    Last edited by Francesca1973; 05-03-2009 at 04:31 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

    Francesca

    Hi.

    Long time no see.

    The 'induction by race' table here indicates that Puerto Ricans were classified separately from Negroes. http://www.history.army.mil/documents/WWII/minst.htm

    Maybe it's possible that Puerto Ricans served with Negro units, perhaps as officers who I believe were always white (although the table doesn't class Puerto Ricans as white).

    There are resources on Negroes in WWII here. http://www.au.af.mil/au/aul/bibs/afhist/afwwii.htm
    http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/11-4/index.htm
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

    Thanks for the reply! I'll go and check out the links. oh, and I've been busy
    with my new baby daughter, so I haven't had time to post lately...
    Last edited by Francesca1973; 05-10-2009 at 10:57 AM.

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    Default Re: Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

    Thanks for the reply! I'll go and check out the links. oh, and I've been busy
    with my new baby daughter, so I haven't had time to post lately...
    Nice to see you again, I shall erase you of my MIA list

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    Default Re: Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

    you should go to this site and contact them they will be able to help you allot.

    www.5thplatoon.org

    I am the Thread killer!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

    Quote Originally Posted by Francesca1973 View Post
    Hi everyone,
    Would a Puerto Rican man have been promoted to Sergeant, or were minorities never promoted to higher ranks, even in all-black or asian units, etc?

    Francesca
    To clarify races other than white were promoted to NCO ranks in the US Army. In 'race' units all the enlisted up through the Sgt Major would usually be black or Asian. White NCOs were common only during the intial training of the unit.

    Puerto Ricans were usually not clasified as 'Negro', however some would be due to their darker skin color. Also light skinned Afro Americans could & sometimes did pass as Puerto Rican. A similar thing to Afro Americans who would 'pass white' by saying they were decended from Italian or Spanish Immigrants.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

    Minorities were promoted to higher ranks. Both my grandfathers were black, and went to howard university before the war. They both were in ROTC and were 2nd lts when war broke out. I have a link I found of my one grandfather who had a quite impressive military career. He was an infantry captain in italy of an all black company.

    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/fdavison.htm

    Here is an excerpt:

    In an interview with the Washington Evening Star in 1968, Davison described what it was like to be a black company commander during World War II:

    "I was going to be the best captain in the area. If I had to work twice as hard, then I'd work twice as hard. I don't like to be whipped by anything, and I don't like to admit that anybody is better than I am."

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Question about African American (Black) Army Units in WWII

    Hi Francesca, the 599 PC were based at Maghull then Seaforth and worked Liverpool docks, they then went to the south of England before going out to the east at the end of the war. Your friend has all the info she needs to get her Grandfather's records from the US militery archive. See this site for help tracing US service men (free) gitrace.org
    The US army did not allow mixed marriages at that time and if the man was from the South it was against the race laws there too.

    Corrina

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