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Entertainment
Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Publication: Historical Archives.
Posted by
760a631d0dea2ae92cb6e9f7b157b927
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A Different Kind of Easter Egg

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Where:
Germany
When:
10-Mar-45
Summary:
African-American soldiers fought in WWII, although they were still segregated from their white brothers-in-arms. Some reported that they were treated with more kindness by the German citizenry than by their own countrymen back home.
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A Different Kind of Easter Egg


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  Where:
Germany

  When:
10-Mar-45

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Next Photo
or read more about below

World War II was a long and arduous fight for every soldier that was involved, and morale was quite low for many as the war lingered on for several years. Because of that, a lot of soldiers focused on the little things that could brighten their day, which included writing messages on their guns, planes, armor or basically anything else that had the chance to be written on. One of the more unique forms of writing that you’ll see on military equipment is here, as these two soldiers have prepared their own special type of Easter egg, though it’s probably not one that you’d want to find.

For these two, the morale for the Allies was actually becoming quite high at the time, which could be why the smiles are so big. This photo was taken on April 1, 1945 on Easter Sunday in what would be the final month in the reign of Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler. The men you see here are Private First Class Joseph Jackson and Technical Sergeant William E. Thomas of the 969th Artillery Battalion. Writing on their shells was nothing new, and it was more for themselves than anything, as the enemy wouldn’t be able to even read the messages if the artillery fire was successful.

The lives of these two had changed rather quickly in the months that were leading up to this photo. Both Jackson and Thomas were part of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion toward the end of 1944, but the Battle of the Bulge caused the battalion to suffer heavy casualties, moving them to their new division. No matter which group they were with, the artillery battalions were the ones that were giving support for the air units that were fighting against the Axis.

This also happened to be a rare sight, as African Americans weren’t commonly used in battle during World War II. African American women were extremely rare, as there were only a few dozen nurses that were deployed for World War II, and the men were segregated into their own battalions such as this one, which mainly consisted of anti-aircraft. There was, however, a famous group of pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen that became one of the groups that has been referenced in pop culture to this day in films such as “Red Tails”.

All in all, there were around 120,000 African Americans fighting for the United States overseas, with desegregation coming three years after the end of World War II. Since many had been working away from the frontlines, the amount of deaths was quite small at just over 700 in total. This accounted for less than one percent of United States military deaths during the war, with many of the soldiers receiving medals that included several Medal of Honor recipients.

When Jackson and Thomas were taking part in the war on this holiday Sunday, it marked the beginning of the end for Hitler. While these two were in Europe, the big story of that day happened in Japan as the U.S. engaged in the Battle of Okinawa. In Germany, the Allies had started to invaded from the East and West, slowly making their way toward the capital. In the days that followed, several German forces had been surrounded and overrun, with Austria, the Slovak Republic and Italy also feeling the insurgence of the Allies.

The battle had become centralized to just a few locations throughout Europe and Japan during this month, which was overseen from a United States perspective by Harry S. Truman as he became President following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Several concentration camps in Germany were soon liberated, and the end was nearing for the Nazis. Less than three weeks after these men wished Hitler a happy Easter with their powerful artillery shells, the Allied forces celebrated his birthday by heavily bombing Germany.

Just one day after his birthday on April 21, the Soviets had made their way to Berlin, with Hitler hiding out in his bunker. With an intense battle waging above him, Hitler was unable to come out as he could hear his war being lost. Some of Hitler’s closest confidants had tried to seize power as Hitler was in his bunker and surrender to the Allies, but he caught wind of this and had these men either removed from the Nazi party altogether or even killed. However, Hitler unintentionally surrendered on the final day of the month.

That was when he took his own life in his bunker with his wife Eva Braun, whom he had just married the day before. With that, second in command Joseph Goebbels was appointed the leader of Germany, but he would last for just one day before taking his own life. With that, Germany was ready to surrender, marking the end of World War II in Europe while Japan eventually surrendered after a pair of atomic bombs were dropped by the Americans. The official end of the war came on September 2, 1945.

The integration of African American soldiers in the United States came in July 1948, though it would take some time for full desegregation. There had still been many all-black units in the Army, which continued on until after the Korean War. After Presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson were in charge, further integration was put into place, becoming more of what it is today. Now, it’s estimated that nearly 30 percent of women that are in the active duty of the military are African American, as well as 17 percent of active duty men.

While the treatment of African Americans in the military has thankfully changed, one thing that’s fortunately stayed the same is the fact that soldiers are still writing on their artillery shells. Whether it simply be for testing or getting involved in active battles, there’s always something special for a soldier that has a message to write on their equipment. Of all of the messages that have been written to this point, there’s still perhaps none better than the famous “Easter eggs for Hitler”.