Good Conduct Committee Agenda, 1942
Agenda for the Good Conduct Committee, appointed by Special Order No. 56, Headquarters V Army Corps (Reinf), August 3, 1942.
1 To avoid friction between whites and negroes through a frank discussion of the current situation.
2. To establish means and methods of accomplishing this end through soldier committees and the education and control of soldiers of each race by non-commissioned officers of their own race.
B. Some subjects for discussion.
1. Whites must respect girls going with negroes.
Negroes must respect girls going with white soldiers and civilians. Neither race must interfere with or "cut in on" soldiers of the other race in company with girls.
2. One race must not attend dances given for the other race. Dances must not be crashed.
3. In the following places, where both races attend, rights must be respected. Races should not intermingle, i.e., sit at same table: Cafes, Restaurants, Bars.
4. Red Cross activities and services are available for both races. First come, first served. Red Cross will show no partiality.
5. In hostels, and dormitories, where beds are available, whites and negroes should ask to be given accommodations with their own race. In lavatories and wash-rooms where facilities are jointly used, each race must respect the rights of the other.
6. In private parties where the girls invite the soldiers, situations may develop where both races are invited. The soldier should inform the girls that mixing of the races at parties is not advisable and should discourage invitations which lead to mixed parties.
7. At public or military shows, there will be no segregation by the military; if civilian officials provide separate accommodations for whites and negroes, their wishes and arrangements should be respected.
8. Negroes must preserve the honor and integrity of the race through good behavior and avoidance of any act that might lead to arguments or brawls. Whites must acknowledge this and respect this, and conduct themselves in such manner as to avoid any argument, quarrel, or brawl.
9. What steps can be taken to bring the above matters to the attention and insure compliance of both races?
a. Draw up a code or set of rules to govern the soldiers of each race in their dealings with the other, the code to be liberal but cover all points on which racial difficulties might develop.
b. Organize company committees of N.C.O.s to explain the situation and the code to their men and to control them in their social or "off duty" contacts and actions.
V Army Corps
Washington County Free Library
A Good Conduct Committee was established by Major General Hartle in August 1942 to deal with the interracial problems within the American troops in Northern Ireland and to govern relations with the more liberal United Kingdom. The committee was supervised by Col. Maurice J. Meyer, Special Services Officer. Lt. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a personal letter to General Hartle dated August 25, 1942, commended Hartle on his plans for dealing with the interracial problems among the American troops in Northern Ireland. Eisenhower stated that he sent Hartle’s document to other commanders for possible adoption as general practice. According to Graham Smith’s When Jim Crow Met John Bull, it became the custom for black and white U. S. soldiers to meet to discuss racial issues.
The British welcomed the black servicemen which angered white servicemen who were accustomed to ‘Jim Crow’ practices towards the black race in the United States. Although the British sided with the blacks over racial issues and were generally against the U. S. policies governing race, British officials requested their soldiers acquiesce to U. S. racial policy to maintain cordial relations with their allies.
Guidance on how to handle race relations was almost exclusively for military personnel and not civilians [Smith, 118]. Special Order No. 54 from Headquarters V Army Corps (REINF), August 3, 1942 outlines the rules. These rules stressed observing separation of the races whenever possible. At private military affairs separation was to be observed. At public affairs the military would not segregate but would yield to local custom and arrangements.
Some U. S. military officials supported complete segregation to the point of large distances between camps so the races would not mix. Others supported, unsuccessfully, keeping the blacks in camp with various diversions [Smith, 104]. Gen. Eisenhower in July 1942 advocated a ‘separate but equal’ policy in Great Britain [Smith, 102]. Commanders were encouraged to minimized friction between the races by announcing dances by 'organization' as a discrete way of segregating entertainment [Smith, 104]. Whenever possible white and black troops were sent to different areas or towns for military leave. When not possible, leave weas given for different days (i.e. ‘Black Tuesday and White Wednesday’) [Smith, 107]. This resulted, according to Smith, in discrimination against whites as well as blacks in unequal access to quality historical sites and recreational facilities for both races. (Smith 114-115).
For a comprehensive history of this subject refer to Graham Smith, When Jim Crow Met John Bull: Black American Soldiers in World War II Britain, New York and London: St. Martin’s Press, Inc., 1987.
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library
United States. Army, Biography; World War, 1939-1945, United States; Hartle, Russell P.