Black American Troops In WWII–A Startling Statistic
Rick Atkinson’s 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning An Army at Dawn is about the American WWII invasion of North Africa. Unlike the British Army at Dunkirk, the American Army included a number of black soldiers in separate black regiments.
In Reconsiderations: Fun facts & fascism, New Criterion, March 2015, reviewer Sarah Ruden said that “Atkinson always picks the perfect politically incorrect fact (such as the V.D. infection rates according to American ethnic group)…”.
But she didn’t say exactly what that was.
I looked it up. According to Atkinson
Within hours, the Americans had once more made the town theirs. Chaplains celebrated a mass to honor St. Patrick’s holy day. Later in the week, Patton claimed as his headquarters the yellow brick gendarmerie with its blue tile floor. In an abandoned mine shaft, soldiers on patrol discovered ore cars, which they rode down the tracks like a roller coaster, shrieking in merriment. Madame LaZonga and her “daughters” [Evacuated earlier–she said they were her daughters ] soon returned from Tébessa to reopen the bordello, contributing to venereal disease rates in Tunisia that had reached 34 cases per 1,000 white soldiers and a staggering 451 per 1,000 black soldiers.
Wow! That is staggering.
Patton ordered the brothel off-limits to U.S. units, but French colonial troops offered to rent their helmets and tunics as disguises. The II Corps provost marshal and intelligence chief both reported that when asked by a sentry if he was out of uniform, one patron in a kepi answered, “No, suh, ah sure isn’t. I’se a Moroccan.” [Emphasis added.]
I have a couple of theories about the difference in VD rates, but I’ll frame no hypotheses and just report it. As for the sentence in dialect above, not only was 1945 not the Current Year, but 2002 wasn’t either.