August 1, 1944 – Encountering integrated Brazilian troops

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 in Good Giants Blog

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After a lengthy train ride and uphill hike, you flopped down and were soon asleep on the ground.

Morning revealed your location to be a wooded area surrounded by steep hills. It was like being inside a large dust bowl. The soil was so powdery that a cloud was raised with each step. The area was referred to as “The Crater” and was probably the site of an extinct volcano. Some of the truck drivers from the port battalion told you that the King of Italy had once used the area as a hunting ground. Setting up camp was the first priority. Some downed a can of C-rations before setting off to work. Combatting the dust was quite a problem, but you found that the principles you had learned in Louisiana and Arizona worked just as well in Italy.

The Brazilian troops were integrated, blacks and whites moving together.

Your neighbors, however, were a surprise. You learned that the hearty young men in purple trunks pounding past your camp on bare feet were members of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force. You saw immediately that the Portuguese-speaking Brazilians were integrated, black and white moving along together. That was a revelation. You also saw many-starred soldiers in green uniforms, who were partisan Italians fighting with the Allies. You admired the Italians’ ability to carry with ease a pack that resembled your duffel bags. Later, you grew suspicious when you noticed that your duffel bags had begun to disappear.


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