This All Black Female Battalion Played A Significant Role In Europe During World War II

WAC Military. ImgCop/Flickr.

The segregation came in, for all women, with the pay. Even if they were smarter or better equipped to handle war than some males, they would receive less compensation than the male soldiers. However, the segregation would continue for African American women as they could not be in the same military unit as white women. On top of this, the government has placed a limit on how many African American women the army admitted. This severely limited African American women in the military during World War II, but it would not keep them from making history.

Another Problem Arises As The Women Train

With World War II raging on in Europe, another problem started to arise: a backlog of mail. By the beginning of 1945, Birmingham, England’s warehouses became filled with mail intended for the military personnel of all divisions. Soldiers, nurses, and other military staff in World War II were not receiving their letters. Christmas packages still sat in the warehouses waiting to be sent to their receiver. Part of the problem was some of the mail was addressed poorly with “Buster, United States Army” or a common name, such as William Smith.

During World War II, several Penn State Altoona students and faculty joined the war effort. While these members of the college community were stationed overseas, Robert Eiche, the first director of the Altoona Undergraduate Center, corresponded with them via letters such as this one. Marissa Carney/Penn State.

Soon people started wondering who would take care of the backlog of mail. While the Adjutant General’s report stated the postal division had a plan to handle such a delay, the whole system was in chaos by this point. By this time, the United States army had transferred several white women over to Europe to aid in various divisions. After much discussion, the European theater stressed the need for the War Department to send African American military personnel to help aid with the postal problem.

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion

The War Department quickly responded, and soon an African American female military unit went off to make history in Europe. What became known as the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion started with 817 African American women. This group of military personnel, which later grew to 824, came from several military divisions including the Army Service Forces, Women’s Army Corps, and the Army Air Forces. The War Department appointed 31 women from the 824 to become officers of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion.

Given the nickname “Six Triple Eight,” The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion quickly became further organized for their mission. They received a headquarters for administrative staff and Companies A, B, C, and D service staff support. On top of this, a first lieutenant or a captain would command all units. The War Department appointed Charity Edna Adams for this position. The Six Triple Eight then went off to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, where they trained for their mission.