No mailing it in: Black female battalion remembered as heroes for unique World War II task

Group helped sort 65,000 pieces of mail a day for U.S. military members

Image courtesy National Archives. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images). (Getty)

Now this is a group of brave, selfless and hardworking women.

Back in 1945, Red Cross workers and warehouses in England became overloaded with mail and packages addressed to U.S. military members.

Knowing the morale boost that mail gave soldiers and also loved ones back home, Army officials needed help with the post, and a group of 855 women came to the rescue.

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, often referred to as the “Six-Triple-Eight,” was the only all-Black, all-female battalion stationed overseas in World War II, and the women were tasked with sorting the mail.

The group left the United States on Feb. 3, 1945, for a nearly two-week journey to the United Kingdom, arriving in Glasgow, Scotland on Feb. 14.

From there, the group took a train to Birmingham, England, and began the priceless and historic work.

Led by Lt. Col Charity Edna Adams and operating under the motto, “No mail, no morale,” the group split up into three shifts that worked seven days a week to whittle down a pile of mail that was stacked up to the ceiling of a temporary post office.

Handling an estimated 65,000 pieces of mail a day, the group finished a six-month task to get rid of the backlog in about three months.

Conditions weren’t easy, given the group had to wear coats and long underwear in unheated, dimly lit buildings.

But it was a sacrifice that couldn’t have meant more to soldiers in need of a boost from letters back home, and the efforts of the group haven’t gone unnoticed.

In 2009, the battalion was honored at Arlington National Cemetery at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

In 2018, a monument in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was erected in honor of the battalion.

Five members were present at the ceremony, which dedicated a monument that features names of those in the battalion and the work the women did.

This story was first published in 2020. It has since been updated.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.