A historic all-Black women’s battalion is getting its due appreciation, more than 70 years after it was disbanded with no recognition. This recognition is coming by way of a parade celebration and a new documentary.
The 6888 Central Postal Directory Women’s Army Corps Battalion made history during World War II. According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, more than 800 Black women took on the task of sorting through millions of pieces of unattended mail for American soldiers.
The women tackled the parcels and letters when they arrived in England in February 1945. Later, they sailed to France where they continued sorting through the piles of mail.
The unit was nicknamed the “Six Triple Eight,” and was honored during a Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C.
It was reported by The Washington Post that three veterans from the unit: 95-year-old Deloris L. Ruddock, 96-year-old Indiana Hunt Martin, and 98-year-old Maybelle Rutland Campbell were featured at the event in Washington. Indiana Martin remembered her WWII service this way according to an NBC4 report.
“We worked on the mail. You should have seen the pile; oh gosh, boxes falling apart,” Martin recalled to NBC4 of digging through the mail with hundreds of other history makers.
A documentary that chronicles the battalion’s dedication to getting letters from home to American soldiers is set to be screened just weeks later.
On June 6, “The Six Triple Eight” will play at the Milwaukee County War Memorial, according to the Desert Sun.
Anna Mae Robertson is one of the women interviewed in the Jim Theres filmed documentary. She is one of seven surviving members of the unit. She is also set to appear during the screening.
“We worked in shifts around the clock. You had to find the right name and address,” the 95-year-old Anna disclosed to the Desert Sun on how the battalion got to work on the six-month mail backlog. “You just managed.”
Swiftly developing a system upon their arrival to England to track down the 7 million American soldiers who had spread out through Europe was part of the work. Parcels containing homemade goods were eaten by rats and mice, also some mail was only addressed to “Junior, U.S. Army,” the newspaper reported.
The battalion additionally also had to return mail addressed to soldiers that were killed in the war. Still, according to the publication’s report, 855 women processed 65,000 pieces of mail as they worked eight-hour shifts in less-than-stellar conditions. The buildings where they worked were unheated despite the winter season. The lights in the buildings were shut off because of attacks coming each night from V-2 rockets and German pilots.
Their hard work meant the mail was disseminated in three months when it had been backlogged for double that amount of time.
The Six Triple Eight continued their work clearing mail in France with French civilians and German POWs working by their side in June 1945.
The unit’s commander, Major Charity Edna Adams, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, at the end of WWII, the Milwaukee Courier reported. This made her become the highest ranking African-American female in the Army.
The battalion had long returned home to the U.S by early 1946 but there was no fanfare celebrating their contributions. There was no parade, formal ceremony or any kind of official recognition given to them.
But in 2014, thanks to the efforts of Democratic Wisconson congresswoman Gwen Moore, Robertson accepted the Women’s Army Corps Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, the Honorable Service Lapel Button WW2 and World War II Victory Medal, the Desert Sun reported.
The surviving battalion members now also have Memorial Day 2019 to look back on as a remembrance of their meritorious service.
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