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Hidden History: the 6888th Moved the Mail


Near the Buffalo Soldier Monument at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is another monument to another, and far less-known, group of African-American soldiers: the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, whose work is one of the untold stories of World War II.


The 6888th, or 'Six Triple Eight' as they referred to themselves, was a Women's Army Corps unit of over 800 members who were sent to Europe to clear up a backlog of several million letters and packages sent to soldiers; some of them had been delayed as long as two years, seriously impacting morale.

P1320466In Birmingham, England, February 1945

Despite racist attitudes from some fellow soldiers and deep skepticism from army leaders that they could do the job, they created indexing systems, worked around the clock in shifts. In three months they had cleared the backup in England, which they were given six months to do. They then moved on to Rouen, France, clearing that backlog as well.

P1320466-001In Rouen, France, May 27, 1945

With the war ended, the 6888 was demobilized with little fanfare or recognition of the role it had played; that only came much later. In 2009, the unit was honored at the Women in Military Service Memorial at Arlington, in 2018, the monument at Fort Leavenworth was unveiled, and in 2022 the unit was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

For a unit that delivered the mail so quickly, recognition took a long time to arrive! For a fuller story of the 6888, follow this Wikipedia link.


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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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