2
   

Where have all the black soldiers gone?

 
 
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 01:07 am
African-Americans written out of Pacific war in Clint Eastwood's new film, veterans say:
"We're always left out of the films, from John Wayne on."
"They didn't want blacks to be heroes. This was pre-1945, pre-civil rights."


http://i11.tinypic.com/4hnb85s.jpg
http://i11.tinypic.com/40ner0h.jpg

Report in today's The Guardian: Where have all the black soldiers gone?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,763 • Replies: 20
No top replies

 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 01:45 am
I am in the middle of reading the article.......but, probably quite irrelevantly, I find occurring to me that US war films almost universally delete anybody but Americans. Thus, it looks in most US films as though that country fought WW II all alone, This irks every other country involved beyond measure...except kids too young and ill educated to know the truth.



However, I do think that eliminating AMERICAN blacks from an AMERICAN film hits an especially low low, in this supposedly new age.


This excerpt is awful:

Melton McLaurin, author of the forthcoming The Marines of Montford Point and an accompanying documentary to be released in February, says that there were hundreds of black soldiers on Iwo Jima from the first day of the 35-day battle. Although most of the black marine units were assigned ammunition and supply roles, the chaos of the landing soon undermined the battle plan.

"When they first hit the beach the resistance was so fierce that they weren't shifting ammunition, they were firing their rifles," said Dr McLaurin.

The failure to transfer the active role played by African-Americans at Iwo Jima to the big screen does not surprise him. "One of the marines I interviewed said that the people who were filming newsreel footage on Iwo Jima deliberately turned their cameras away when black folks came by. Blacks are not surprised at all when they see movies set where black troops were engaged and never show on the screen. I would like to say that it was from ignorance but anybody can do research and come up with books about African-Americans in world war two. I think it has to do with box office and what producers of movies think Americans really want to see."........


and this:

Mr Durden, too, is wearied but unsurprised at the omissions in Eastwood's film. "We're always left out of the films, from John Wayne on," he said. Mr Durden ascribes to both the conspiracy as well as the cock-up theory of history. "They didn't want blacks to be heroes. This was pre-1945, pre-civil rights."

A spokesperson for Warner Bros said: "The film is correct based on the book." The omission was first remarked upon in a review by Fox News columnist Roger Friedman, who noted that the history of black involvement at Iwo Jima was recorded in several books, including Christopher Moore's recent Fighting for America: Black Soldiers - the Unsung Heroes of World War II. "They weren't in the background at all," said Moore. "The people carrying the ammunition were 90% black, so that's an opportunity to show black soldiers. These are our films and very often they become our history, historical documents."

Yvonne Latty, a New York University professor and author of We Were There: Voices of African-American Veterans (2004), wrote to Eastwood and the film's producers pleading with them to include the experience of black soldiers. HarperCollins, the book's publishers, sent the director a copy, but never heard back.

"It would take only a couple of extras and everyone would be happy," she said. "No one's asking for them to be the stars of the movies, but at least show that they were there. This is the way a new generation will think about Iwo Jima. Once again it will be that African-American people did not serve, that we were absent. It's a lie."



Aargh:

We set up an ammunition dump and the Japanese spotted it because they were firing mortars. There was black powder and smoke everywhere. It's unbelievable what you can smell. Men losing their legs ...

"On the second night we were hit again by mortar fire. All of a sudden the dump was burning. I said the whole dump's going to go soon, and we couldn't put the fire out. We made our way to the beach ... when I got to the beach my eyes were burning and the dispensary put something on my face. Two days later they start ammunition drops from planes. They started dropping the ammo in multi-coloured parachutes like an ice-cream canopy. So you've got to chase ammunition with the enemy firing on you. Oh, Lord. My platoon leader put us in for a commendation but that never got anywhere. It was beyond the call of duty.

"Our last involvement was when we turned back a banzai attack ... the last battle on Iwo Jima. There were army people there who had come after us to repair the airfield who were living in tents ... they came out of their holes with their swords drawn, high-hollering 'Banzai!' The Japanese cut the guy ropes and they were running them through the canvas with their swords. When they came through our area, we were still sleeping in the dirt. We cut them down. It was the black soldiers that did it. It's never been recognised.
0 Replies
 
najmelliw
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 02:05 am
When I read this, (and it is sad indeed) I couldn't help but think about Paul Verhoeven's latest movie, a dutch production called Zwartboek
(blackbook). The great thing about this movie is that it shows that in the war as well, people were people. Not every german was a thug, and every resistance fighter a hero. It can easily be the other way around as well...
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 02:18 am
najmelliw wrote:
When I read this, (and it is sad indeed) I couldn't help but think about Paul Verhoeven's latest movie, a dutch production called Zwartboek
(blackbook). The great thing about this movie is that it shows that in the war as well, people were people. Not every german was a thug, and every resistance fighter a hero. It can easily be the other way around as well...


"Black book" at wikipedia
0 Replies
 
detano inipo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 07:34 am
btw, the name John Wayne stands for the greatest All-American war hero and glorious typical Super-American. That he never served in a war is almost forgotten.
.
A 'smoke-and-mirrors' hero.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 09:41 am
During the American Civil War, more than 175,000 Americans of African ancestry served with the Federal armies. They formed USCT regiments--United States Colored Troops. There were also a handful of blacks who served in the Confederate States armies--and even blacks don't want you to know about them.

In the spring and summer of 1864, Meade's Army of the Potomac, with Grant in attendance and cracking the whip, pushed Lee's Army of Northern Virginia from the line of the Rappahanock River to Richmond, and then quickly transferred over James River, forcing Lee to conform and to establish a line south of Richmond, around the town of Petersburg. Meade tried a massive attack south of Petersburg, but incredibly, with Grant looking on and offering no comment, Meade told his corps commanders to attack when they were ready, since he couldn't rely upon them to coordinate their efforts. The Confederates only managed to stop them when troops literally jumped off of trains and immediately began firing on the Yankees--it was that close.

The Confederates dug in and the Federals were forced to do the same--trench warfare began (it had already been seen in the seige of Knoxville, Tennessee, a Unionist stronghold in the heart of the South). General Ambrose Burnside had commanded the Federal defense of Knoxville, and after the seige was lifted, he joined Meade, commanding the "right wing," with the First and the Ninth Corps. The First Corps was so bled down by previous service (the first Brigade of the First Division of First Corps had suffered 80% casualties at Gettysburg), that it was much reduced, and its ranks were filled with newly conscripted, poorly-trained and rather unenthusiastic white troops. The Ninth Corps was made up of three huge divisions, one of them formed from USCT regiments--enthusiastic black troops with white officers, and many of them veterans. A regiment of Pennsylvania coal miners applied to Burnside to dig a "sap" (a tunnel under the enemy lines) in which they would place a "mine" (a chamber filled with explosives). Burnside approved the idea, and everything went downhill from there.

Burnside had once commanded the Army of the Potomac, but had been relieved after the battle of Fredericksburg. Meade had been his subordinate then, and hated him. When Burnside applied to the Chief Engineer of the army for assistance, he was given the cold should. Nevertheless, Burnside persevered. While the white boys (most Irishmen who were only slightly less despised than the black troops) dug the sap, and eventually constructed an underground mine containing 8,000 pounds of black powder, the three divisions of colored troops marched off to some old entrenchments behind the lines, and trained for three weeks to assault the Confederate lines. They were taught to stop at the crater, and to file to either side to overrun the shocked Southern defenders on either flank of the crater.

The night before the planned attack, just at the end of the staff meeting in which Burnside was giving his final orders to his subordinates, a staff officer from Meade's headquarters arrived with an incredible order. The USCT regiments were to be held in reserve, and a division of white troops, mostly unexperienced, were to make the attack. The commander of this division was later cashiered when it was charged that he remained in the rear of Federal lines during the attack, and was drunk all day.

Because of the lack of support from the army engineers, Burnside did not have an electric detanator, and his engineers were forced to rely upon old-fashioned "slow match" fuses (the kind you see in the movies which burn and splutter). The explosion did not go off when intend, and two volunteers who went into the sap found that it had burned out at a splice, and were forced to check all the splices, and to relight the fuse. The mine was finally exploded just before dawn. It was heard as far away as New York and Cleveland where people were awakened in the dark. It rattled windows and sent crockery tumbling off shelves in Washington (100 miles away) and Baltimore (more than 150 miles away).

In the event, it probably did not matter. The white troops were late to advance, and when they reached the Crater, rather than going around it, they decided it was a defensible position (for chrissake, it was 30 feet deep!) and filed into it. The V Corps, to the left (south) of Burnside was to advance to support the attack, but they didn't budge. Anecdotal accounts say they refused to fight with "n*ggers." On the right of the Crater (south) on the Confederate line, General Mahone decided to take the chance, and withdrew his division, marched up the Jerusalem Plank Road, and then attacked the Crater.

By about Noon, it was obvious that the attack was bogged down, and the USCT regiments were finally released. They advanced almost at a run, but as they attempted to move around the Crater, army staff officers cursed them, and drove them into the Crater. The Confederates had finally arrived, and the Crater had become a shooting gallery--Federal troops, black and white, were shot down as they milled in the bottom of the Crater. With heroic elan, the black troops formed on their own, and launched one bayonet attack after the other at the Confederates, which resulted in fierce and bloody fighting. Before Mahone showed up, the only defense behind the Crater had been a 16 gun battery on the Jerusalem Plank Road--at dawn, they could easily have been overrun; now, they simply increased the rate of the slaughter. One Southern nurse in Petersburg reported that wounded Confederates were brought in with wild-eyes, screaming about "the n*ggers," and clutching muskets which had to be pried from their hands, and which were covered with blood, brown flesh and kinky black hair.

This ended Burnsides career. It also ended the lives of thousands of Federal troops, half of them black Americans from the USCT regiments. Meade deserved as much censure as Burnside, and probably more--but he continued in his command. Mahone became the hero of the battle on the Southern side. The seige and the trench warfare continued.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 09:45 am
An account of the Battle of the Crater from the perspective of two USCT regiments.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 09:47 am
Thanks, Set!

-----

Another film just out is Rachid Bouchareb's new war film, 'Days of Glory' ("Indigenes" ['Natives'] in French) which tells the little known story of the 300,000 Arab and north African troops who helped liberate France and Italy during World War II. (Got 2 million spectators within three weeks - although not running in the main theatres!)
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 09:58 am
The problems that black soldiers faced in the United States Army can be seen in the history of the 24th Infantry Regiment. Formed originally as one of the United States Colored Troops regiments, it was still a segregated regiment at the time of the Korean War, nearly a century later.

This site has an account of the charges levelled against the 24th Infantry during the Korean War.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 10:02 am
A brief account of black American troops in France in the Great War. Black American troops from Harlem fighting with the French were the first troops to reach the Rhine in 1918.
0 Replies
 
timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 04:29 pm
Sadly, inexcusably, and undeniably, the contributions of other-than-WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) to America's birth, defense, and development largely is ignored, or at the very least underacknowledged. That such would be so is a cultural embarrassment.


I've seen Flags of Our Fathers, and I noted the absence of another significant set of contributors - THESE FELLAS.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 04:31 pm
dlowan wrote:
I am in the middle of reading the article.......but, probably quite irrelevantly, I find occurring to me that US war films almost universally delete anybody but Americans.

Hogan's Heroes? No German guards?
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 04:52 pm
dlowan wrote:
I am in the middle of reading the article.......but, probably quite irrelevantly, I find occurring to me that US war films almost universally delete anybody but Americans. Thus, it looks in most US films as though that country fought WW II all alone, This irks every other country involved beyond measure...except kids too young and ill educated to know the truth.

Well, let's be fair: Patton, for instance, did not ignore the British. Indeed, it taught us that we won the war despite their contribution to the war effort.

dlowan wrote:
This excerpt is awful:

Melton McLaurin, author of the forthcoming The Marines of Montford Point and an accompanying documentary to be released in February, says that there were hundreds of black soldiers on Iwo Jima from the first day of the 35-day battle. Although most of the black marine units were assigned ammunition and supply roles, the chaos of the landing soon undermined the battle plan.

I think we need a bit of perspective here. From what I've read, there were around 900 black soldiers at Iwo Jima. That's out of a total of 70,000 marines who were involved in the battle. In other words, black troops represented about 1.2% of the American forces.

I haven't seen the movie, but I'm guessing that it doesn't attempt to depict the entire American combat force engaged in the battle. As such, it is inevitable that it would show only a small portion of that force, and it just so happens that there were no blacks in that portion -- which is understandable given that black troops represented such a small percentage of the total.

That doesn't diminish the role played by blacks in the battle, it just puts it into some sort of perspective.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 04:55 pm
My ex once wrote a treatment about Buffalo Soldiers, long years before I ever heard of anything about them in the media. There was a reason his writing and my salaried support of it went nowhere, as he usually had black characters with character in his writing, being a white boy raised in south LA. He wasn't William Goldman, or equivalent, not saying that. But market orientation was a problem back then. Not to whine, if only things would move forward from the cages of memory

I gather Eastwood's movie makes a leap towards the nature of war. I see there's a big gap in that re the folks there at the time. Eastwood filmed some of it in low light, people undecernible.. I presume the argument would be that no one was featured, that being part of the point. But still, never mind featured, how about 'there'.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 05:35 pm
Thomas wrote:
dlowan wrote:
I am in the middle of reading the article.......but, probably quite irrelevantly, I find occurring to me that US war films almost universally delete anybody but Americans.

Hogan's Heroes? No German guards?



Oh, the BADDIES get to be from other countries.


And you're just being purposely obtuse.

Der hass neffer been a lack off Germans und Yapanese in American war Vilms.
0 Replies
 
flyboy804
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 06:04 pm
There was no shortage of African-American soldiers in "Glory". In fact the theme of the film was the Civil War company in the Union Army composed entirely of volunteer black troops. The officers (of course) were all white. Needless to say, one of the main themes of the film was the difficulty of gaining acceptance by the rest of the army. If I remember correctly Denzel Washington got a supporting actor Oscar for his performance.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 06:22 pm
Glory (an excellent movie, made with considerable care to get the historical details correct) told the story of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment of United States Volunteer Infantry. As such, they were a considerably different group than one would have found in the ordinary United States Colored Troops regiments. The 24th Infantry, which i have already mentioned, was originally formed from men who had been slaves in Maryland before the war.

The men of the 54th Massachusetts were all free men before the war began, and most were literate, and most had at least decent jobs before they decided to "join up," and a few were actually relatively affluent. The men of the USCT regiments had little to lose, and much to gain by serving in the United States Army. The men of the 54th Massachusetts had a great deal to lose, and i think it speaks highly of their individual characters that they were willing to risk it when the did not have to.

That was a good movie to bring up, Flyboy, i greatly enjoyed it. Their attention to historical detail was significant, and it was the first motion picture in which i particularly remember having seen Morgan Freeman. The detail was carried down to the point that when they showed the assault on Fort Wagner, you could see the stakes in the sand--artillerists at a fixed position such as that would train their guns, and then put stakes in the ground at various distances (distinguished by the rags tied to them) for the various ranges at which they would fire. It was one of the most accurate war movies i've ever seen about the Civil War (Gettysburg was full of horsiepoop, as was the novel Killer Angels on which it was based). The only other war movie i would genuinely recommend is John Huston's 1951 classic version of The Red Badge of Courage, with the genuine war hero Audie Murphy as "The Youth," and the famous war-time and political cartoonist Bill Mauldin (long a personal friend of Murphy) as "The Loud Soldier." Dismayed by early test showings, the studio hacked it up, but it is still a great motion picture.

Of course, being made in 1951, there's not a black face anywhere in The Red Badge of Courage. Flyboy is right, though, Washington got that Oscar, and Glory is well worth seeing.
0 Replies
 
timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 06:41 pm
Another vote for Glory here - helluva good flick, and correct in detail down to appropriate trouser piping and accurately reproduced regimental buttons and buckles on uniforms; the versimilitude folks on that job acquitted themselves well.
0 Replies
 
detano inipo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 07:36 am
At the end of WW2, most US military truck drivers were black. I remember being impressed no end with their driving skills.
.
A long convoy of trucks would stand on a highway, the white officer in charge would give a hand signal from the first truck. All the trucks would start at the same instant and speed. In no time they would roll at top speed with no gaps between trucks. It was uncanny and a pleasure to witness that skill and discipline.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 08:21 am
Re: Where have all the black soldiers gone?
Walter Hinteler wrote:
African-Americans written out of Pacific war in Clint Eastwood's new film, veterans say:
"We're always left out of the films, from John Wayne on."
"They didn't want blacks to be heroes. This was pre-1945, pre-civil rights."

Not just war movies, Westerns too. I remember an old article in National Geographic describing the Old West. One point they made was that a third of the Cowboys were black, and an even greater share of the railroad workers were Chinese. You never see those in the movies.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » Where have all the black soldiers gone?
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 09/25/2022 at 12:22:39