posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 01:00 AM
Over the weekend my dad was talking to me about the first African American regiment to ever be deployed in WW1, The Harlem Hellfighters. aka The Black
They were known to be totally fearless in battle, while instilling fear in their German opponents. Literally they had guys crying all the way back to
their mommas for some Lebkuchen. Unfortunately, since racism was still very prevalent back in the US then they ended up fighting a lot with the French
units. After being detached and seconded to the French, they wore the Adrian helmet, while retaining the rest of their American uniform.
One Medal of Honor and many Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded to members of the regiment. Considering only 6,185 Distinguished Service
Crosses were awarded at that time that is pretty amazing. Also from what I understand it of course took the veterans (mainly their families) a long
time for them to even get recognition.
A noteworthy soldier was Pvt. Henry Lincoln Johnson, who earned the nickname "Black Death" for his actions in combat in France. In May 1918 Johnson
and Pvt. Needham Roberts fought off a 24-man German patrol from their position. After they depleted their ammo, Roberts resorted to his rifle as a
club and Johnson battled with a bolo knife! The French government awarded these two and their regiment the Croix de Guerre with silver star for the
taking of Séchault. By the end of the war, 171 members of the 369th were awarded the Legion of Honor.
A little known fact is that one soldier from the 369th division, James Reese Europe became famous throughout Europe, being the first to introduce the
until-then unknown music called jazz to British, French and other audiences, and starting a worldwide demand for it!
Pretty interesting tidbit of history to learn about, he was discussing this to me after watching the WW1 tanks specials on The History Channel, which
is a must see as well!
Peace for the week all.