Larf? – I nearly cried


The other night they showed ‘Red Ball Express’. No great shakes, one of the low budget US post-war b/w’s – in this case 1952. However, because of that it does have a lot of genuine war-time footage spliced in. :thumright:

I accept the plot is going to be ‘woolly’, gung-ho, tearjerker etc, but one scene is priceless. The convoy is held-up because the area is mined – “heavily mined” according to the MPs by the enormous crater in the road . There's all the gee shucks etc, and the reminder that the war depends on them, and hero Jeff Chandler proclaiming they can clear a path with machinegun fire to detonate the mines, when, one good ‘ole boy jumps in a truck and drives on through – 50-60 men looking on. He skirts around the crater, ends up 90 degrees left (so the camera can get a good shot), stops, and shouts back ”OK you heroes, this way to the front”. Then, he jumps out the cab??? :shock: Why, because he has to set-off a mine and get blown to bits otherwise there’s no hero pathos. :skull:

OK, so there’s the pathos, but next is the real killer. All those 50-60 men who stood in awe of proceeding into the minefield, now go rushing into it to see if there’s anything left of him? :rofl:

Have you got a war film scene that stretches logic too far?



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No 9

I have not seen that film but would like to know if the cast were white (obviously Jeff C was) because the Red Ball Exprerss used mainly black drivers.

Quote from a wikipedia type entry

"They also principally used blacks because they were not used in the combat at all."

One of the major features of the Red Ball Express was this was the first occasion that blacks had been given a major role to play in the war effort. The White yanks did not want them in combat as they did not want a ready trained black army back in the good ole USofA after the war.

Therefore much has been made by the black americans about the RBE, and quite rightly too.

It would be interesting to see how the film portrayed the drivers.


The black/white relationship is an essential part of the film Auld-Yin, the driver I mentioned is played by a black actor and the cast includes the 25 year old Sidney Poitier.

Also there’s the yet-to-be-famous Hugh O’Brien, aka ‘Wyatt Earp’ (complete with Buntline Special) in the fifties ‘hardcore’ TV western series (1955-1961, 226 Episodes). I digress…… :silent:

"Buffalo" Soldiers saw combat in Italy , and fought well, exceptionally well in some situations. The battle of Sommocolonia, in which Lt. John Fox
was killed is one example

Fox requested "Expend all on me" to buy time for his troops to effect a tactical withdrawl and re-org. He died , was awarded the Bronze Star at the time, as seems to have been common in WW2. This was upgraded in the 80's to the DSC and finally upgraded by Clinton to the CMOH , which he should have had in the first place.

First Lieutenant John R. Fox
Citation: For extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Sommocolonia, Italy on 26 December 1944, while serving as a member of Cannon Company, 366th Infantry Regiment, 92d Infantry Division. During the preceding few weeks, Lieutenant Fox served with the 598th Field Artillery Battalion as a forward observer. On Christmas night, enemy soldiers gradually infiltrated the town of Sommocolonia in civilian clothes, and by early morning the town was largely in hostile hands. Commencing with a heavy barrage of enemy artillery at 0400 hours on 26 December 1944, an organized attack by uniformed German units began. Being greatly outnumbered, most of the United States Infantry forces were forced to withdraw from the town, but Lieutenant Fox and some other members of his observer party voluntarily remained on the second floor of a house to direct defensive artillery fire. At 0800 hours, Lieutenant Fox reported that the Germans were in the streets and attacking in strength. He then called for defensive artillery fire to slow the enemy advance. As the Germans continued to press the attack towards the area that Lieutenant Fox occupied, he adjusted the artillery fire closer to his position. Finally he was warned that the next adjustment would bring the deadly artillery right on top of his position. After acknowledging the danger, Lieutenant Fox insisted that the last adjustment be fired as this was the only way to defeat the attacking soldiers. Later, when a counterattack retook the position from the Germans, Lieutenant Fox's body was found with the bodies of approximately 100 German soldiers. Lieutenant Fox's gallant and courageous actions, at the supreme sacrifice of his own life, contributed greatly to delaying the enemy advance until other infantry and artillery units could reorganize to repel the attack. His extraordinary valorous actions were in keeping with the most cherished traditions of military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
Vernon J. Baker's award is another one where you're left thinking - "How the hell did he not get the Medal?

It seems there were a good few post war upgrades of medals after segregation of troops was rescinded.

I think Black US Soldiers finally served as infantry in the ETO during the Ardennes campaign?


I believe some 900k black Americans served in WWII, but none were assigned combat roles till the government changed policy in 1944. The 92nd Div. was the only formation of this size (@15’000) assigned a combat role which was in Italy with the first ‘black’ regiment entering combat in August ’44. Majority of enlisted men were from the ‘deep south’, hence by default typically poorly educated cotton-pickers – i.e. illiterate. Junior officers were educated and usually had attended military college, some before the war – senior officers were almost exclusively white. Gen. Clark, US V Army, had some 16 nationalities to orchestrate.

Daniel Gibran headed a study group commissioned by the US to look into why, of the 294 WWII winners of the MoH, none were black. Based on their evaluation of 10 men, in 1997 Clinton’s admin issued 7.


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