101. 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion Monument

This monument is part of the Buffalo Soldier Commemorative Area located at 290 Stimson Ave, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027

Dedicated in 2018, this monument celebrates the 6888th, commonly referred to as the “Six Triple Eight,” which was a battalion of the WAC, or Women’s Army Corps, during the Second World War that consisted of 855 Black women. After African American organizations petitioned for Black women to be permitted to serve overseas, the 6888th deployed from Georgia to the United Kingdom in February 1945, on a voyage that entailed the constant threat of Nazi U-boat attacks, one of which only barely missed the ship after they docked in Glasgow. Once safely arrived in the United Kingdom, the women oversaw the sorting of millions of mail parcels heading to soldiers stationed in Europe during WWII, many of which lacked proper addresses or full names. This was arduous labor mostly taking place inside cramped warehouses and hangars in the industrial city of Birmingham where mail had been piling up for six months, yet they persevered. The 6888th went through more than 65,000 parcels per shift until they cleared the entire backlog three months ahead of schedule. They then transferred to the liberated French town of Rouen in May of 1945, where they continued to sort mail but now with the aid of some French civilians and German POWs. By the end of the war, the 6888th had processed a whopping 17 million pieces of mail. However, the 6888th’s soldiers also found ways to make their difficult life near the frontlines of the war more bearable. For example, they opened a snack bar and they operated quite independently, with their own jiu-jitsu-trained unarmed military police force.

The Commander of the 6888th Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charity Adams, played a major role in boosting morale amongst her troops, whose duty focused entirely on the morale of others. She did her best to ensure that her women were shielded from the brunt of the higher leadership’s prejudice and was even court-martialed after refusing to allow a visiting white general into the women’s quarters while two of the shifts were sleeping. After the end of the war, she earned her master’s degree from the Ohio State University and worked in various administrative positions dealing with veterans’ affairs and academics, including organizing the distribution of G.I. Bill benefits. She also studied in Europe and continued to participate in civic projects for the rest of her life until her death in 2002.

One cannot understate the importance of mail on the front. As the 6888th’s motto states, no mail results in low morale. Without any connection to their loved ones, soldiers lose hope, which can have drastic individual and wider consequences, especially during war. The 6888th helped alleviate this problem while simultaneously overcoming discrimination for both their race and gender. Furthermore, the women of the 6888th had to make many personal sacrifices of their own. Aside from the tough work, they left behind their friends and families for months to accomplish their mission. Three soldiers even died in a tragic accident while on duty with the 6888th and are among the only four women buried in the Normandy American Cemetery. The 6888th received the Congressional Gold Medal for their service in 2022 and achieved recognition for their incredible and long-undervalued achievements in the Second World War.

Sources

Cummings, Edna W. and James William Theres. “The SixTripleEight: No Mail, Low Morale.” The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. The National World War II Museum, February 9, 2021. https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/the-sixtripleeight-6888th-battalion.

Fargey, Kathleen. “6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion.” U.S. Army Center of Military History, February 14, 2014. https://history.army.mil/html/topics/afam/6888thPBn/index.html.

Hymel, Kevin M. “6888TH CENTRAL POSTAL DIRECTORY BATTALION.” On Point 14, no. 4 (2009): 22–25. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26360021.

Kindy, David. “All-Black, All-Woman WWII Unit Awarded Congressional Gold Medal.” Smithsonian Magazine, March 23, 2022. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/all-female-black-battalion-in-world-war-ii-to-get-congressional-gold-medal-180979664/.

Kurtz, Jackson. “Honoring the Only All-Black Women Army Corps Battalion, the ‘Six Triple Eight.’” KMBC, February 24, 2022. https://www.kmbc.com/article/honoring-the-only-all-black-women-army-corps-battalion-the-six-triple-eight/39195853.

Spring, Kelly. "Charity Earley" National Women's History Museum. 2017. www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/charity-earley.

Walker, Lawrence E. Sweet Georgia Brown. United States: PureHistory, 2015.

Women of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. “The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion Monument.” Accessed May 19, 2022. https://www.womenofthe6888th.org/the-6888th-monument.