Pathfinders visit site of WWII racial tensions, reflect on military solidarity

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason W. Cochran
  • 501CSW/PA

A plaque detailing the fighting that took place in the village of Bamber Bridge was officially presented to members of the 501st Combat Support Wing on Oct. 5, 2023.

On June 24, 1943 violence broke out after an incident, stemming from a segregation policy in the village’s pubs, unfolded between white and black U.S. servicemen. It resulted in the death of one black serviceman and the prosecution of several more.

The history of this event was shared with 501st CSW personnel where they learned more about the clash, saw the incident site and were given deeper context about the circumstances leading up to the battle.

"It was a super unique and interesting opportunity for us to learn more about this event that has ties to the origins of the 501st Combat Support Wing and the earliest diversity and inclusion measures," said Col. Valarie Long, 423d Air Base Group commander. "It was great to see how far we've come as a force and I'm sure it will be an amazing memory for everyone who attended."

As a result of the Battle of Bamber Bridge, subsequent MP patrols during that time were racially integrated as a step to enhance military cohesion and prevent further violence. The incident has been historically recognized as an early catalyst for change in the military’s approach to racial equality.