By Nyesha Stone
During World War II, there was an all-female, African American Battalion in the United States Army that served in Europe known as the 6888 CPDB, or the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. While overseas, 6888 CPDB were in charge of sorting and directing mail to nearly seven million soldiers in the European Theater of Operations.
Seventy-four years ago, 6888 CPDB was sent to Europe and in less than a month, the women of that unit will be honored in a documentary titled The Six Triple Eight. The documentary will be screening on June 6 at the Milwaukee County War Memorial from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Once Wisconsin native and Producer James Theres found out about 6888 CPDB he contacted the 9th and 10th Calvary (Horse) 6888th Monument Committee and asked for assistance in making the Six Triple Eight documentary, which is how Army Colonel (Retired) Edna Cummings, producer of the documentary, got involved. Cummings who managed the outreach for the 6888th monument.
According to Cummings, when the women arrived in Europe, they traveled to Birmingham, England, where they cleard a multi-year backlog of more than 17 million pieces of mail in three months—instead of the six-month time frame that they were given. Afterwards, they cleared backlogs in Rouen and Paris France. At the end of WWII, the commander, Major Charity Edna Adams was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, making her that highest ranking African American female in the Army.
Cummings hopes The Six Triple Eight documentary gives the women the recognition they deserve.
“The Six Triple Eight story is part of American History with a compelling narrative that extends beyond racism and sexism,” said Cummings. “It highlights how a strong leader formed, performed, and exceeded expectations by implementing and sustaining a self-sufficient administrative and logistical operations in a wartime environment.”
Anna Mae Robertson was a member of the 6888 CPDB, enlisting from the State of Arkansas in March 1943, but has resided in Wisconsin shortly after she was honorably discharged from the military in December 1945. Evelyn Ross and Alice Woodson were also members of the 6888 CPDB, enlisting from the State of Wisconsin.
Here are a few honors awarded to 6888 CPDB, according to Cummings:
• 6888th Monument dedicated at Fort Leavenworth, KS – November 30, 2018
• Army Meritorious Unit Commendation (their only unit award) – February 20, 2019
• Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Bill introduced (Senate Version) – February 28, 2019
• Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Bill introduced (House Version) – June 5, 2019 (expected date)
• Blue Plaque dedication by the US Ambassador (London) in Birmingham, England – May 13, 2019
The Six Triple Eight will screen on June 6, 2019 at Milwaukee County War Memorial, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information on the screening, visit https://warmemorialcenter.org/.
For more information on the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, visit https://armyhistory.org/6888th-central-postal-directory-battalion or https://history.army.mil/html/topics/afam/6888thPBn/index.html.