Black Soldiers Built the ALCAN (Alaska-Canada Highway)...

5fish

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Here is a little bit of history lost... three link sto tale the story...


In the following article independent historians Christine and Dennis McClure describe the role race played in the construction of the Alaska-Canada (ALCAN) Highway during World War II. The highway, constructed in eight months, stretched 1,600 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska. It was built by 11,000 soldiers in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. About one third of the soldiers were African Americans organized in three newly formed Negro Regiments, the 93rd Engineer General Service Regiment, 95th Engineer General Service Regiment, and the 97th Engineer General Service Regiment. The 388th Engineer Battalion, formed around a cadre from the 93rd, remained in Yukon in 1943 to build the Canol Road from the Highway to Norman Wells. The account also highlights in particular experiences of these black soldiers which are described further in their new book on the subject, We Fought the Road.

Here is this....


Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. Temperatures of sixty below zero and dropping. More snow than a southerner or northerner could ever imagine..and the people... where are the people?

So describes the welcome which greeted the black men of the 93rd, 95th, 97th (Regiments) and 388th Battalion (Separate) of the Corps of Engineers assigned to Alaska. "Their 3,695 troops accounted for slightly more than a third of the 10,607 engineers on the highway." These soldiers made a major contribution to the war effort which, until recently, was not recognized.

The building of the ALCAN has been described in the same vein as the building of the Panama Canal, a feat which most people believed couldn't be done. Faced with innumerable odds, the soldiers persevered and accomplished what no others could, build a highway in record time through some of the roughest terrain in the U.S. Known as the ALCAN (Alaska-Canada Highway), once built, this road was to become the only overland route which strategically linked the north to the remainder of the United States and facilitated the construction of airstrips for refueling planes and supply routes. Among the adverse conditions which these courageous men overcame were:

* an extremely harsh climate for many men who had only known the southern U.S. climate and others who had experienced only mildly cold weather;

* insufficient clothing and accommodations, because the men were in the cold for months dressed in warm weather clothing and living in tents. The white soldiers were usually housed in the sturdier quonset huts and on the air bases;


Here is more...


Seventy-eight years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of its most ambitious assignments of World War II—the Alaska-Canadian (Alcan) Highway. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Alcan Highway became a high priority. Eight engineer regiments were assigned: 18th, 35th, 340th, and 341st, and Black 93rd, 95th, 97th, and 388th reluctantly added.

snip...

The Black regiments—many of whom knew only Southern weather—overcame adverse conditions and harsh climate with insufficient clothing and accommodations. Many top Army personnel feared the Black regiments. Jim Crow Laws were followed in the Army, which enforced discriminatory policies of segregation and isolation. As a result, the Black regiments’ camps were built in isolated areas away from towns and had cloth tents as living quarters, while the White soldiers were housed in Quonset huts under much better conditions.

snip...

The crowning achievement of the 93rd was the 70-mile road from Carcross to the Teslin River. On June 16, 1942, the bulldozers cut through the woods to Johnson’s Crossing, completing the road to Teslin River in just 1.5 months. To accomplish this, the 93rd had to build or rebuild bridges, install culverts, and grade and widen the existing road.

They accomplished all of this with hand tools, picks, shovels, axes, and hand saws. They operated bulldozers and drove trucks while struggling through muskeg, mud, mosquitoes, gnats, food shortages, and broken bones. From June 5, 1942, to October 1, 1942, the 93rd built 240 miles of road, including upgraded roads, new culverts, and four new bridges


snip...

The 95th was the best trained of the four Black regiments. It was the first to learn how to drive Caterpillar bulldozers at the Engineer Replacement Center (ERTC) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. They were also the most educated regiment, consisting of high school and university graduates mostly from Baltimore and Washington.

At Sikanni Chief River, the 95th was challenged to build a bridge in five days. The regiment bet their paychecks they could get it done in four. At noon on Friday, June 24, 1942, the bridge was completed—in just three days. The bridge was tested, and a large keg of beer and liquor was provided to celebrate the amazing feat.
 

Matt McKeon

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Here is a little bit of history lost... three link sto tale the story...


In the following article independent historians Christine and Dennis McClure describe the role race played in the construction of the Alaska-Canada (ALCAN) Highway during World War II. The highway, constructed in eight months, stretched 1,600 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska. It was built by 11,000 soldiers in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. About one third of the soldiers were African Americans organized in three newly formed Negro Regiments, the 93rd Engineer General Service Regiment, 95th Engineer General Service Regiment, and the 97th Engineer General Service Regiment. The 388th Engineer Battalion, formed around a cadre from the 93rd, remained in Yukon in 1943 to build the Canol Road from the Highway to Norman Wells. The account also highlights in particular experiences of these black soldiers which are described further in their new book on the subject, We Fought the Road.

Here is this....


Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. Temperatures of sixty below zero and dropping. More snow than a southerner or northerner could ever imagine..and the people... where are the people?

So describes the welcome which greeted the black men of the 93rd, 95th, 97th (Regiments) and 388th Battalion (Separate) of the Corps of Engineers assigned to Alaska. "Their 3,695 troops accounted for slightly more than a third of the 10,607 engineers on the highway." These soldiers made a major contribution to the war effort which, until recently, was not recognized.

The building of the ALCAN has been described in the same vein as the building of the Panama Canal, a feat which most people believed couldn't be done. Faced with innumerable odds, the soldiers persevered and accomplished what no others could, build a highway in record time through some of the roughest terrain in the U.S. Known as the ALCAN (Alaska-Canada Highway), once built, this road was to become the only overland route which strategically linked the north to the remainder of the United States and facilitated the construction of airstrips for refueling planes and supply routes. Among the adverse conditions which these courageous men overcame were:

* an extremely harsh climate for many men who had only known the southern U.S. climate and others who had experienced only mildly cold weather;

* insufficient clothing and accommodations, because the men were in the cold for months dressed in warm weather clothing and living in tents. The white soldiers were usually housed in the sturdier quonset huts and on the air bases;


Here is more...


Seventy-eight years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of its most ambitious assignments of World War II—the Alaska-Canadian (Alcan) Highway. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Alcan Highway became a high priority. Eight engineer regiments were assigned: 18th, 35th, 340th, and 341st, and Black 93rd, 95th, 97th, and 388th reluctantly added.

snip...

The Black regiments—many of whom knew only Southern weather—overcame adverse conditions and harsh climate with insufficient clothing and accommodations. Many top Army personnel feared the Black regiments. Jim Crow Laws were followed in the Army, which enforced discriminatory policies of segregation and isolation. As a result, the Black regiments’ camps were built in isolated areas away from towns and had cloth tents as living quarters, while the White soldiers were housed in Quonset huts under much better conditions.

snip...

The crowning achievement of the 93rd was the 70-mile road from Carcross to the Teslin River. On June 16, 1942, the bulldozers cut through the woods to Johnson’s Crossing, completing the road to Teslin River in just 1.5 months. To accomplish this, the 93rd had to build or rebuild bridges, install culverts, and grade and widen the existing road.

They accomplished all of this with hand tools, picks, shovels, axes, and hand saws. They operated bulldozers and drove trucks while struggling through muskeg, mud, mosquitoes, gnats, food shortages, and broken bones. From June 5, 1942, to October 1, 1942, the 93rd built 240 miles of road, including upgraded roads, new culverts, and four new bridges


snip...

The 95th was the best trained of the four Black regiments. It was the first to learn how to drive Caterpillar bulldozers at the Engineer Replacement Center (ERTC) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. They were also the most educated regiment, consisting of high school and university graduates mostly from Baltimore and Washington.

At Sikanni Chief River, the 95th was challenged to build a bridge in five days. The regiment bet their paychecks they could get it done in four. At noon on Friday, June 24, 1942, the bridge was completed—in just three days. The bridge was tested, and a large keg of beer and liquor was provided to celebrate the amazing feat.
Very interesting! I heard about the Alcan, but know almost nothing about it.
 
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