"THIS IS OUR
Ollie Stewart at Normandy
by: Todd Steven Burroughs
From Black Press USA
The Negro press distinguished itself during
II, both on the frontline and the home front. It was virtually the
only public source where Negroes could read of their own war exploits.
Among those Negro newspapers covering World
War II with its own personnel was The Afro-American. Its overseas
correspondents included Max Johnson, Vincent Tubbs, Art Carter, Elizabeth M.
Phillips, Herbert M. Frisby and Ollie Stewart. Below is an excerpt of one of
Stewart's articles, under the subhead "Normandy Beachhead," written
after the 1944 D-Day invasion of the French beaches of Normandy by the Allies.
The excerpt is taken from "This Is Our
War," a collection of AFRO World
War II articles the company
self-published in 1945. For more information on the AFRO and World War II,
check the AFRO's Website at www.afroam.org.
Stories of heroic deeds by Colored troops
have come to me from every angle since my arrival on a Normandy beachhead
exactly one month after departure from the U.S.A.
Leaving from England, Colored soldiers loaded
us on a boat, other accompanied us over, and still others unloaded us and much
equipment on the beach they helped win from the enemy during the first few days
of the invasion.
I am writing this beneath an apple tree by
the roadside, with fat cattle grazing nearby, unmindful of the trucks rushing
to the front with men and supplies, of the incessant pounding of artillery not
far up the road.
All last night, guns shook the ground on
which I slept. Our Long Toms slugged it out with German 88's in a duel that has
I am staying with a quartermaster outfit
whose medical officer is Capt. Charles I. West of Washington, brother of Maj.
John B. West. In the next tent is Warrant Officer Vincent Piedra of New York.
The outfit already has five purple hearts for
wounds resulting from enemy action, awarded to Staff Sergeant Leo Chenault,
Indianapolis; Pfc. Clordie Caldwell, Kings Creek, N.C.; Pfc. Wilfert Fox,
Jonesboro, N.C.; Pfc. Arlander Barker, Chicago, and Pfc. Austin Anderson,
Another unit has among its personnel Cpl.
John Hawkins of Pine Bluff, Ark., who shot down a German plane on D-Day while
landing under fire with a trucking company. Hawkins used a 50-calibre machine
gun mounted on the truck to down the raider, which was attempting to strafe a
The Nazi pilot bailed out and was later
Pvt. George McClain, 2263 E. 95th Street,
Cleveland, Ohio, helped captures a German on D-Day soon after landing. The same
day he went to the front before he knew it--driving a load of infantrymen up
the road into a town still held by the Germans, but he made a quick turn and
fled under fire by both sides.
Everywhere I go are tales of our lads who
waded ashore in water up to their necks, with their trucks waterproofed, to
take part in the assault that forced Jerry [ apparently Allied slang for the
German soldier] from his strong points.
are still saying, "I don't know how we did it, after seeing how Jerry was
dug in." All along the beach were concrete pillboxes, barbed wire and gun