Washington, D.C. Washington Photo Co., [ca. 1941-1942]. Panoramic photograph, 10 x 30 1/2 inches, with captions printed below the image. Minor scuffs to edges, two slight creases (not affecting image). Very good. Backed on later flexible board. Item #WRCAM55297
An unidentified panoramic photograph (possibly a proof) of an early African- American quartermaster training unit, likely at Camp Lee (now Fort Lee), Virginia in late 1941 or early 1942. The recruits are accompanied by the cadre of non-commissioned officers and their predominantly-white officers, with names of all printed below. In all, 240 trainees are shown and named. This unit would have been one of the first African-American training units to form at Camp Lee. The soldiers in this photograph were nearing the end of their training when the image was taken. They soon would be deployed overseas or around the United States, working to store, transport, and distribute food, fuel, clothing, and ammunition necessary to supply the army's combat divisions. Camp Lee was established during World War I as a training site and during World War II was expanded to provide training for quartermasters and related support specialists. Although some black soldiers saw combat during World War II, the majority were assigned to all-black quartermaster and engineer units, providing logistical support and distributing supplies and ammunition to troops around the world. President Truman finally desegregated the armed forces in 1948 with Executive Order 9981, and the last all-black unit was disbanded in 1954. African-American World War II Army panoramas are scarce in the marketplace.