Photo History of the Black 95th Engineer General Service Regiment in World War II

Alcan17

Railway Station Press is publishing the Photo History of the Black 95th Engineer General Service Regiment in World War II.  Volume One is at the printer and Volume Two will be ready early next year. The photo above is the Army Post Office 998 based in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

The 95th Engineer General Service Regiment was formed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia in April of 1941. It consisted of African American troops mostly from the southern United States and white officers. In 1942 they were sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to train for deployment in North Africa. Instead, they were one of three black engineer regiments (along with four white regiments) sent to British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska to build the pioneer road from Fort Dawson, British Columbia to Fairbanks, Alaska called the Alcan (Alaska) Highway. The 95th was assigned the section from Fort St. John north to Fort Nelson, British Columbia. The Peace River was a major obstacle to cross. My father who was from Minnesota, Lt. Stuart Bradley (later Captain), was the supply officer. It turned out to be one of the coldest winters on record.

The next assignment for the 95th began in July of 1943 and was in England and Wales to build training and invasion camps in preparation for D-Day. Two weeks after D-Day in 1944 the 95th crossed the English Channel into Normandy, France. Their task then turned to repairing damaged train tracks and bridges, often destroyed by the Germans as they retreated. After some time in Liege, Belgium they were on the border with Germany during the Battle of the Bulge in the late winter of 1944 and found themselves close to the front line. Once in Germany they traveled as far east as Gera, which later became part of East Germany, before being pulled back to France.

They were kept at Camp Lucky Strike for 45 days waiting for a ship back to the United States when most units only spent a week at most, in the camp. There were two reasons for this; combat units were needed for a possible transfer to the Pacific, and they were waiting for a ship just the right size for the 95th as white soldiers did not want to share a ship with black troops. They finally shipped out on August 5th, 1945 and arrived back in United States on August 12th.

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