B-17 Nine-O-Nine

Sep 292012

On CourseHere’s something interesting from On Course!, class 45-14B at the San Angelo Army Air Field.  This class trained at least fifteen black cadets to be bombardiers.  Assigned to Flight 6, they are pictured along with their Bomb-a-dears (wives, sweethearts and children) starting on page 57.

That they are pictured at all, especially with their family members, shows the base was somewhat ahead of its time.  They were still segregated, but they appear in the book like any other cadets.  A cartoon on page 67 emphasizes the situation.  It’s humorous, but still not quite right.

Bombardier Cartoon

Here are two bombardier cadets.  Both have a circle around an eye from looking through the bomb sight so long.  The white cadet has a black circle while the black cadet has a white circle.  It’s a subtle bit of humor that a bombardier would understand.

This cartoon shows comaraderie and shared experience between two men of different race.  Yet still, the black cadet is drawn in blackface, the stereotypical way to illustrate black people back then.  So it’s sort of a mixed message:  Inclusive on the one hand and perhaps a little insulting on the other.

I’d be interested to hear from any veterans who want to share their thoughts on race relations in the Army Air Forces during World War II.

  One Response to “Mixed Race, Mixed Message”

  1. Mike, This is a great slice of WW2 humor…..Thanks for allowing us to see it!

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