African-American Soldiers in World War I
African-Americans have fought for the United States since the American Revolutionary War, and in every subsequent war. During World War I, about 350,000 blacks enlisted in the United States Army. Most served in segregated units; many in service jobs, but some were allowed in combat and proved themselves admirably.
World War I
Did you have any relatives who fought in World War I?
The most notable all-black unit was the Harlem Hellfighters of the 369th Regiment. It was assigned to the French army and fought admirably. The soldiers were never captured and never gave up ground even when losing up to one third of their men that the Germans nicknamed them "Hellfighters." The entire regiment received the Croix de Guerre medal of honor from the French Government.
When the all black unit, the 92nd Division arrived in France in 1918, the British refused to train them. General Pershing, angered by the discrimination, had the French train the unit. The French were so impressed they wanted to have the 92nd Division attached to the French army. The War Department refused and the unit went on to fight in the Meuse-Argonne offensive in September 1918.
African American Officers
African-Americans in the United States protested the obvious discrimination within the Armed Forces as blacks were segregated and not allowed to serve in the Army Air Corps or the Marines. Even in the Navy, African-Americans were only allowed to serve in the mess.
There were few black officers and in response to the African-American protests, the Army allowed blacks into officer's training in Des Moines, Iowa and by October 1917, over 600 blacks became officers.
© 2014 MH Bonham